Critical Thinking During and Post COVID-19, Part II.
In the second part of his webinar series on Critical Thinking, Dr. Jim White reiterated his objectives for this series:
1. Understanding components of critical thinking
2. Utilizing non-linear thinking
3. Employing logic
4. Recognizing what it means to be a critical thinker
5. Evaluating the information used in critical thinking skills
6. Identifying the benefits of critical thinking
7. Revising perspective when necessary
8. Comprehending problem-solving abilities
This series is extremely important for many reasons, Dr. White said, not the least of which is because we are heading to the polls in November. We should be able to analyze and make critical decisions when we elect political leaders; and, it’s equally important to use critical thinking to make sound business and career decisions.
“Using linear, or vertical, thinking means solving a problem in a step-by-step fashion by arranging the premises in a straight line.”
That’s the safe and comfortable approach, Dr. White said. Over the past 45 years he has observed that many of us resist leaving our comfort zone. Why? Primarily because of laziness: staying in our comfort zone is safe and easy, but is not necessarily the best place to be.
Then there’s non-linear, or lateral, thinking, characterized by expansion in multiple directions rather than in a straight line. The concept has multiple starting points from which we can apply logic to a problem. Non-linear thinking requires stepping out of our comfort zones and seeing information or circumstances from a different perspective and making the invisible visible.
Dr. White talked about “getting in the zone” like athletes, for instance – that is, an area set apart in some way – but we must get out of a set zone and stretch our thinking. Don’t jump to conclusions, he suggested. Listen to what is being said. Keep an open mind. Take the time to acquire and study the necessary information. Use logic to gather the necessary facts to come to a conclusion. This is the process scientists, governors, business owners, the president, and we should use to navigate COVID-19 and determine how to move forward.
Expect and initiate change, he continued, or risk getting left behind. Like the bumper sticker says: Be the Change You Wish to See. If we don’t change within our organization, we will be left behind. It takes a lot of energy to maintain the status quo, like a duck paddling furiously to resist the current. But change is a necessity. It sets us free. It’s the standard course of our lives.
This is especially true for business leaders: when we look at the mission of our organization – not only to give a return to shareholders, but also to affect and impact millions of people on a daily basis in a positive way. Business leaders (and political leaders) must embrace critical thinking and change to accomplish this… and to avoid becoming obsolete.
In his military training, Dr. White recalled, he was taught to pivot, to spin on a dime, to “escape and adapt,” since there is no such thing as a perfect set of circumstances. Similarly, the species that is capable of adapting well is the species that survives.
This is the time to think carefully: not to sit on the sidelines and criticize those on the front lines, but to understand, as we start the process of opening our economy up after quarantine, that it’s vital to communicate the severity of this very contagious virus.
“Our nation is at risk if we fail to adapt and if we fail to employ critical thinking. We must embrace the challenges in front of us and make solid decisions.”
Next week, the series on critical thinking continues with a discussion of logical thinking and how we check the components of arguments.
Dr. White is hosting his regular Webinar Series. His next webinar goes live on May 26th at 6:30 PM EST. The topic of the webinar is “Critical Thinking – During and Post COVID-19, Part III.” Dr. White’s objective is to teach you the skills to evaluate, identify, and distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information. It will lead you to be more productive in your career, and provide a great skill in your everyday life during and post COVID-19.