Critical Thinking: What it is and how to master it
What exactly is critical thinking? It’s a very business-speak title, so you’re forgiven for not knowing. Critical thinking is a group of soft skills which you use every day. These are leadership skills, so you’re already honing your expertise without even knowing. Awesome!
When you break critical thinking down, it’s the ability to think clearly and rationally. It’s being able to understand logical connections between ideas. It’s using your ability to reason. It’s questioning things in a way that’s active rather than passive. As a critical thinker, you identify, analyze, and then solve problems rather than tackling them with instinct and intuition.
What are the 8 elements of critical thinking?
A good way to polish your critical thinking further is to work on these eight core components.
- Analysis: being able to break information down to gain a better understanding of it
- Interpretation: to form an opinion on the information you have analyzed.
- Inference: to be able to draw conclusions based on the evidence available to you.
- Evaluation: the ability to make decisions based on the available information.
- Explanation: clear communication of your findings, reasoning, and/or hypotheses.
- Self-regulation: the ability to monitor and manage your ways of thinking.
- Open-mindedness: considering other options and opinions.
- Problem-solving: defining what the problem is, its cause, generating ideas, and choosing a solution.
Why critical thinking is important
Crucial to any business? People who can analyze vast amounts of information and draw conclusions that make better decisions for the future. While machines can gather and interpret massive amounts of information, the ability to analyze and act on this data is still a skill only humans possess.
Both while studying at Hult and in your career, you’ll put your critical thinking skills to the test across multiple real-world scenarios. You might find you need to analyze things like if an existing firm is operating at optimum efficiency or not. Or perhaps which demographics should you target in your marketing? Which is the best direction for you to strategically innovate your product or service? Critical thinking is part of your everyday business.
Also, it’s not just the creativity to invent new things that disrupts industries. It’s the ability to critically assess the opportunity—and the risk—that these new developments offer to society. Take the societal changes brought on by the invention and expansion of the railroad. What were the new business opportunities and challenges? How can we apply these learnings to the emerging technology of today? These are all critical thinking examples.
#2 Critical thinking is the second most important skill in the workplace, according to the World Economic Forum
And 60% of companies think that new grads lack critical thinking skills.
How to be a critical thinker
There are three simple habits you can work on to strengthen your critical thinking skills. The first? Question assumptions: yours, your firm’s, and your colleagues. Test things out. Do surveys, engage with consumers–whatever it takes to get data to validate any hypotheses.
Second, reason through logic. There are plenty of ways you can do this. For example, you might be considering becoming a buyer or merchandiser. When factoring in what to sell, you need to reason through logic. For example, rather than selling the same things globally, it would be wise to do your research on each territory and its consumers’ tastes. What sells in the US may not sell in Europe. And that product may differ altogether to what flies off the shelves in the UK.
Third, collaborate with others to seek out diversity of thought. Listen, discuss, and explore different beliefs. Widen your professional and social circles. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can both help you learn valuable and different perspectives and broaden your open-mindedness.
Don’t forget the idea that practice makes perfect. Start practicing your critical thinking skills with greater awareness. You can learn and build on these each day.
Gain your critical thinking skills and leadership experience at Hult
Hult’s MBAs have leadership skills, like critical thinking, baked into their curriculum. Take, for example, the Financial Management MBA, where you’ll develop the knowledge, skills, critical-thinking abilities, and behaviors required of any manager.
Hult’s Global Strategy MBA also covers critical thinking. The MBA teaches you to be able to think and act strategically without losing agility. Strengthen your critical-thinking skills and develop the business acumen to be able to assess key challenges and opportunities in a global environment.
Master more leadership skills to stand out even more
Amazingly, 60% of companies think that new grads lack critical thinking skills. That alone should have you off studying! There’s plenty more you can do to convince those future employers differently. We’ve identified seventeen more leadership skills you can learn with ease and practice.
Better still, these are all straightforward to learn. Think skills like communication, active listening, creative thinking, and team building. These are all things that you can apply to your everyday. Speaking with family, friends, and the people you meet gives you a chance to try things out. Think of every project as an opportunity to demonstrate your leadership skills–you’ll be an expert before you know it.
Hult offers a range of highly skills-focused and employability-driven business school programs. Get the right skills to succeed in any business environment with Hult.