What’s Critical about Thinking?

Have you ever seen sacred cows  consume innovation at its roots? I have.

Wherever you hear the catchword critical thinking discussed, you find new definitions. The only part people seem to hold in common is that you should wield critical thinking to solve problems.

brainpowered tools

brainpowered tools

Have you noticed it doesn’t work that way in reality? In fact critical too often trumps thinking, and cynicism tends to toss toxins into the mix to prevent thoughtfulness of any kind. How so?

Critical thinking claims to challenge personal thought, yet often gets expressed in cynical put- downs stated in toxic tone. What’s supposed to be reflective change converts into blaming others. What claims to question assumptions, tends to deliver opinions as facts. What’s touted as diverse approaches, gets represented as one way to the top. What lifts banners to ambiguity comes off as hierarchies for guarding elite views at the top. 

In an era where innovation is craved, civility is rare, and diversity is paramount, a shift in approach would jump-start leadership for improved workplaces for mind-bending renewal. Renewal that treats people as capital, leaders as facilitators, knowledge as shared, workplaces as caring communities, and innovation as the engine to move us all forward.

Brainpowered tools for leading innovation offer more than “critical thinking,” at the Mita Brain Center, where we:

  • question possibilities
  • target improvements
  • expect quality
  • move multiple intelligences as resources, and
  • reflect on growth possibilities.

Here’s the skinny:

1. Rather than tell or deliver, brainpowered tools help to question and wonder.

2. Rather than critique for mistakes, brainpowered tools target improvements.

3. Rather than foster similarity, brainpowered tools expect quality differences.

4. Rather than talents at the top, brainpowered tools move multiple intelligences.

5. Rather than end with tests, brainpowered tools reflect in innovation celebration.

Mita Brainpowered tools all find roots in current theories yet must be expressed in tools that build innovation that raises motivation and achievement for all. Brainpowered tools are needed to open new job opportunities and sidestep traditions that cling to status quo stagnation.

What do you see, when people call for critical thinking at the core? Is it time to rethink critical thinking, and consider alternatives in brainpowered tools to lead innovative improvements where you work?

8 Comments

  1. This is a very timely post. I fully agree that a focus on “critical thinking” is part of what has led us to the place where many have forgotten the need to behave respectfully in the workplace. Thank you for bringing this issue forward and for explaining it in a compelling way!

  2. eweber says:

    Linda, many thanks for your concern on this topic too, and for your own work in the area of ethical leadership.

    In my upcoming book written collaboratively with Robyn McMaster, for a newly design MBA leadership course, Lead Innovation with the Brain in Mind, I have written a full chapter of ethics at the core of all great leadership. It appears to me that while we all call for critical thinking – as it it were gold, and then pass around rocks – as if they were gems, we’re also missing the chance to be ethical.

    Enjoyed your site at http://leadingincontext.com/ and look forward to learning more about your work.

    By choice I collaborate all leadership with my senior VP (Dr. Robyn McMaster) and that too gives me a new perspective on the delights of leading together with another great soul! Great to meet!

  3. While it may certainly be true that discourse about thinking tends to become personal and nasty, perhaps part of the problem is our failure to recognize the multi-definitional nature of language.

    A great number of English words have mutliple meanings depending on the context. Look at the common words fire, load, and hike, for example. Critical is also a word with multiple definitions. Readers are expected to figure out from the context which one applies.

    Critical is often used in the negative sense of fault-finding, but it’s Greek roots carry the idea of making judgments based on standards. In everyday parlance, critical can also be used as a synonym for crucial.

    Because teach writers and writing teachers, I’m particularly sensistive to the need to read beyond definition #1 to be sure the meaning I know is, in fact, the one the writer intended me to apply.

  4. eweber says:

    Thanks Linda. Would you agree that discourse solve more diverse problems and opens unique segues when it includes multi-definitional nature of humans in general.

    You make a great point about differences of meaning – yet acting as if only one existed. I did an extensive search for this post – to see how universities and well respected organizations were defining critical thought as a tool. Few defined it clearly and most omitted any definition. Yet all seemed to call for critical thinking as it it was the flour in toast.

    Evidence in our lack of civility – which gets dubbed as intelligence by users, shows the danger of critical as negative sense of fault-finding.

    How many dart throwers stop to think of it’s Greek roots carry the idea of making judgments based on standards.

    Loved your notion of reading beyond any 1 definition. Parallel exists in Mita brainpowered approaches, where we lead in 5 unique ways which help to rethink the assumptions and reframe approaches to ensure they root in theories that include a wider expansion of perspectives.

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