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February 1, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

Five Types of Critical Thinking for Business

This type of strategic leadership requires five different types of thinking. Knowing when and how much to utilize each one is the hallmark of great leaders.

  1. Critical thinking is the mental process of objectively analyzing a situation by gathering information from all possible sources, and then evaluating both the tangible and intangible aspects, as well as the implications of any course of action.
  2. Implementation thinking is the ability to organize ideas and plans in a way that they will be effectively carried out.
  3. Conceptual thinking consists of the ability to find connections or patterns between abstract ideas and then piece them together to form a complete picture.
  4. Innovative thinking involves generating new ideas or new ways of approaching things to create possibilities and opportunities.
  5. Intuitive thinking is the ability to take what you may sense or perceive to be true and, without knowledge or evidence, appropriately factor it in to the final decision.

Source: Here

I think that list of 5 is certainly helpful.  Here is a list of 8 more types of thinking (note that 6 and 7 are part of 4 above):

  1. Self-reflective Thinking (self and organization)–how to think about the past.
  2. Vision and Strengths Thinking–how to think about the future.
  3. Relational Thinking–thinking about humans/thinking about relationships.
  4. Emotionally Intelligent Thinking–EQ about self & EQ about others  (human thinking)
  5. Team/group/culture Thinking–thinking about where we are going as a team.  (this includes motivation and values thinking)
  6. Audience Listening and Sensing–Market thinking, audience thinking, and customer thinking–empathy.  Also feedback loops and overall listening.
  7. Design Thinking–innovation that is human centered.  Based on the work at IDEO and Stanford and elsewhere.
  8. Service Design Thinking–Innovation in process & service
  9. Problem solving–in terms of people (lets say conflict)
  10. Productivity and Process Thinking–Productivity & schedule & time thinking (time management)
  11. Mindset Thinking–mindsets of an employee.  This overlaps with many of the others, and certainly with the EQ and culture questions.
  12. Growth Thinking–Mentorship, coaching, and development thinking–growth & development

Its worth noting that these categories aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.

Others might include hiring people & hiring firms (consultants, coaches, and outsourcers).

[I’m curious when people say critical thinking if they really mean “tactics and strategy”–that is strategic thinking.]

I’m curious to what extent legal-oriented critical thinking

Also, I think the EQ, relationship, values, and design thinking pieces could all be integrated into the larger picture of critical thinking.

What are your thoughts on what critical thinking is conceptually or as a process or as part of a business or organization?  How has critical thinking helped you?  How did you learn critical thinking?  What is the best way to learn critical thinking in your opinion?

A working definition of critical thinking, albeit from an academic rather than a business context.  It perhaps describes the passion behind critical thinking:

Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way.   People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, empathically.    They are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked.   They strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and sociocentric tendencies.   They use the intellectual tools that critical thinking offers – concepts and principles that enable them to analyze, assess, and improve thinking.   They work diligently to develop the intellectual virtues of intellectual integrity, intellectual humility, intellectual civility, intellectual empathy, intellectual sense of justice and confidence in reason.   They realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they can always improve their reasoning abilities and they will at times fall prey to mistakes in reasoning, human irrationality, prejudices, biases, distortions, uncritically accepted social rules and taboos, self-interest, and vested interest.   They strive to improve the world in whatever ways they can and contribute to a more rational, civilized society.    At the same time, they recognize the complexities often inherent in doing so.   They avoid thinking simplistically about complicated issues and strive to appropriately consider the rights and needs of relevant others.   They recognize the complexities in developing as thinkers, and commit themselves to life-long practice toward self-improvement.   They embody the Socratic principle:   The unexamined life is not worth living , because they realize that many unexamined lives together result in an uncritical, unjust, dangerous world.

~ Linda Elder, September, 2007


Leave a Comment
  1. compassioninpolitics / Feb 1 2017 8:38 pm

    Overall this notion of critical thinking in terms of analytical thinking includes:
    1) Comparison and contrast
    2) Categories & definition
    3) Identify tradeoffs
    4) Options and alternatives
    5) Criterial thinking
    6) Decision-making process itself (comparing & weighing–advantages and disadvantages)
    7) Assumptions & misconceptions
    8) Examining data and evidence

    I think a full understanding has to include critical thinking and problem solving together. They are both parts of the process:

  2. compassioninpolitics / Feb 1 2017 8:40 pm

    Paradigm thinking might be another category.

    Ethical thinking & ethical leadership is another category.

    Opportunity/maximization thinking (ROI thinking)

    Accountant thinking/Mathematical thinking

    Data and evidence thinking

    Inference and intuition thinking

  3. compassioninpolitics / Feb 1 2017 8:41 pm

    Habit and process thinking

    Value and principle thinking (part of both culture & character & ethical thinking)

    How do you assess risk versus reward?

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