For over two decades, Helen Lee Bouygues, founder and president of the Reboot Foundation, has helped struggling organizations turn things around. She teaches people to address organizational problems by improving their critical thinking.
“Too many business leaders are simply not reasoning through pressing issues [or] taking the time to evaluate a topic from all sides,” says Lee Bouygues. “Leaders often jump to the first conclusion, whatever the evidence.”
These poor thinking habits can lead to declining profits, lost clients, and low team morale. The good news is critical thinking is a learned trait. Anyone can improve their critical thinking by building three simple habits.
1. Question Assumptions
When the stakes are high, Lee Bouygues encourages business leaders to question their assumptions. This doesn’t mean second-guessing yourself but instead double-checking the foundation of your beliefs. If a retail chain assumes their customers have more disposable income than they actually do, they can overprice items and lose out on millions in sales. This is when marketing research or “secret shoppers” come in handy. When you’re sitting down to come up with a long-term plan for the company, make sure you’re building that plan on facts, not your own assumptions.
2. Reason Through Logic
Over 2,000 years ago, Aristotle introduced the formal practice of logic. If you’re about to make a decision based on a given argument, pay attention to the logic “supporting” the argument. Is the argument supported by evidence all the way through? Does all the evidence support and create a strong conclusion? If not, then the argument is not logical. Sound logic is key to critical thinking.
3. Diversify Thought
In other words, step out of your echo chamber. We like to surround ourselves with like-minded people, and while that may help make sure everyone is working toward a common goal, it can also mean you’re not getting different points of view. This can cause you to miss a potential mistake or error you simply cannot see. Reach out to different branches of your company or connect with different levels of the team to escape your usual thinking. This can help you gain better insights.
While some decisions can be made on gut instinct, it pays to be critical about those decisions in the long run.
Thanks for reading,
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