Critical thinking is a part of general thinking process. During the thinking process ideas, assumptions, hypotheses, beliefs and premises are born as the result of working out psychological and biological reactions. Critical thinking consists of three important steps or stages. These stages are: becoming aware that certain assumption exists, making this assumption explicit and final steps are making sure in its accuracy. So, critical thinking assumes critical evaluation of any assumptions, which appear during our thinking process. In order to evaluate them critically, we ask ourselves several questions. Is this assumption true? Are there any special conditions, which make it true? Are there any special conditions, which make it false?
There are some general mistakes concerning critical thinking. Usually we tend to treat word “critical” negatively. We believe that critical evaluation brings negative effect trying to destroy any assumptions finding only their counterparts and blunders. In reality critical thinking is rather positive process, which creates more realistic perspective. Critical thinking is a very important process, because it includes realistic evaluations of unchecked facts and assumptions. Very often unchecked facts or information lead to wrong decisions and poor consequences. In personal communication and close interactions critical thinking can help to understand the position of other people and imagine what consequences can have our actions not only for them, but for us also.
Problem solving process includes:
- setting up the problem;
- defining negative sides of the problem, main difficulties and limitations;
- defining positive sides of the problem, what can be used in order to resolve it;
- finding new ideas, brainstorming, etc, aiming to escape negative sides and use positive ones;
- choosing the best variant most suitable for the problem resolved, building a ranking list of solutions, starting from the most effective ones.
There are several forces which influence the process of decision making. These forces can be divided into two major groups. The first group includes objective forces, which can not be influenced by the problem solver. These forces include the problem to be solved such as costs, risks, losses; its positive sides and limitations. Another type of forces consists of subjective forces, which are influenced by the personality of problem solver, his skills, attitude to the problem and his or her sensory input.
Three main tools of team decision making include: brainstorming, affinity grouping and multivoting. Brainstorming is usually described as a tool which assumes generating many options to one specific purpose. The main goal of this tool is to generate several ideas using collective mind. Multivoting lets to choose the most suitable options from all propositions. This tool is suitable for choosing the most preferable options from the long list of different ideas. Affinity grouping includes forming groups or categories of options from all the ideas achieved during the brain storming.
Ethics must direct all human actions and decisions, including critical thinking and decisions making. It means that we must always take into account ethical norms when making decision. Competence as the ability to recognize an ethical issue should accompany all the decision making processes. We should be aware that during decision making we can meet so called moral dilemmas – the situations which don’t have one definite answer. In these situations the decision should be made being aware about possible wrongdoings and their consequences. It’s important to remember that ethic and moral values should be treated as the highest human achievements and should be always kept in mind when making decision.
There are several ways to estimate the results of our decisions. We can estimate economic value, which can be give in direct and indirect values. Direct value can be measure in currency and indirect value can be composed of not material things, which still bring profit to the problem solver or organization. Indirect values may include positive or negative influence on reputation, label price, goodwill, etc.
Decision makers should always consider the possibility of undesirable result. Decision making process usually implies risks and choices between several perspectives. The risk of choosing the wrong perspective or wrong strategy always accompanies any process of decision making. It’s necessary to consider and estimate all possible risks and bad consequences of the decision.
It’s not possible to make a 100% perfect forecast of all the nuances when making the decision. Choosing the alternative, decision makers have to base some part of their assumptions on predictions and forecasts. Mistakes or changes in the forecasted information can case different results. The more precise data and information is used while making the decision, the less probability of contingencies is. In the situation when there is no possibility to skip uncertain data or predictions, its necessary to call the percentage of contingencies when choosing the alternative.
Critical or evaluative thinking can become a perfect tool for making the right decisions. It can be used either for group or for individual decision making. It can be used for the profession of manager as this profession assumes taking a lot of decision and their critical evaluation and right understanding of the situation could bring a lot of profit and prevent undesirable loses.
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