A report on the Future of Jobs by the World Economic Forum compares the skills priorities of 2015 with the ones predicted by 2020.
I am pleased to see Critical Thinking jumping to number 2 in the list, just below ‘Complex Problem Solving’ (that requires a great deal of critical thinking until the robots take over and think more critically than us, that is)
In these Daily Thoughts I have endless parroted about Critical Thinking and many times said that is in short supply in our organizations. Alpha males (and females) are keen to do and act and produce faster than their brains can think critically. The others may have a different pace but they are prone to perhaps shortcut, use whatever information is available and declare it good, and then, there you go. Caricatures as these may be, the fact is that Critical Thinking is even seen as suspicious in many quarters as a risk to slow down and super-analyse. But Critical Thinking is about the discipline of questioning and avoiding mental traps that we all have. And if you do these well, not only you wont slow down but quite the opposite.
Critical Thinking is a meeting point of Psychology, Philosophy and Education and, as such, you need to borrow from these disciplines to be able to apply in the organization. But it is very doable and train-able
By the way, number 3 in the list is ‘Creativity’, which requires a great deal of lateral thinking and a ‘what if’, as critical thinkers do.
I believe that imagination and creativity are certainly something natural in some people, nature or nurture, but that it can be ‘institutionalised’. Not speaking for myself, one does not have to be an athlete to go to the gym. I am not an athlete. I don’t go to the gym. But in fact, gyms are full, I am told, of non athletes, but people who need and want to exercise. Equally, going to gym once a month may be social but nothing else. Again, discipline, discipline. Critical Thinking needs to be embedded in the culture, not just left for the Grand Strategic Decisions.
Injecting Critical Thinking discipline in the organization is a good investment. It is unfortunate that the producer of the survey in Davos have not managed to get much Critical Thinking in the water supply of the World Economic Forum itself.