We are all busy, but not as busy as our approach to decision making would suggest. Many important decisions are left until the last minute, forcing a quick decision when it was not originally necessary. As a result quick decisions are often poor quality decisions. The occasional successful outcome and a hectic lifestyle convince us to continue to make hurried choices, even though many of the problems we are solving today are the result of the “quick fixes” of yesterday. In order to arrive at consistently high-quality decisions, we need to slow down. Our thinking needs to be dissected. Sources of information need to be questioned and assumptions should be verified. Using the steps in this white paper as a guide will help you overcome the common weaknesses in decision analysis.
We need to ensure that our thinking is balanced, our logic sound and our information sources are complete and correct. The techniques for doing these things are the role and function of critical thinking. Critical thinking helps to reveal the gaps in our knowledge and imperfections in our reasoning that also stem from conscious or unconscious assumptions and mental shortcuts. To arrive at better decisions, it is necessary to ensure that our reasoning is consistent and methodical.
The tools of critical thinking provide a format for questioning the reasoning and logic of the inputs to the decision-making process. The intention of critical thinking is to separate the known from the unknown and the subjective from the objective. Ask questions about all aspects of the problem.
- What are the sources of information?
- Is there bias in the information?
- What is the point of view of the person(s) interpreting the information?
- What concepts are inherent in the reasoning being used in the evaluation of options?
- Have all possible options been considered?