Перейти к основному содержанию

Как нанять и взрастить критических мыслителей / How To Hire And Develop Critical Thinkers

Как нанять и взрастить критических мыслителей / How To Hire And Develop Critical Thinkers

от Евгений Волков -
Количество ответов: 0

Как нанять и взрастить критических мыслителей / How To Hire And Develop Critical Thinkers via @forbes


How To Hire And Develop Critical Thinkers

I write on leadership and its new challenges in the age of networks. 

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Are there too many “alternate facts” and "decisions-by-Twitter" in your company? Do you need more people who can pick apart a specious argument? Weigh the pros and cons of a vendor’s pitch? Analyze constructively assumptions behind next year’s strategic plan?

Maybe your enterprise is suffering from a serious lack of critical thinking.

If so, how do you find, hire and develop more good people who can think that way?

Everybody’s Asking That Too

First, welcome to the club.  Leaders everywhere are seeking sharp critical thinkers. Advertised job postings requiring the skill have doubled since 2009. And a recent Davos World Economic Forum report lists the same capability as #2 in the top ten skills for the global economy in year 2020 (up from #4 ranking in 2015; and both lists have “complex problem-solving” as #1.)


So just as you already know, and probably were afraid to hear: critical thinking is only becoming more critical.

Some help in making sense of it all is now on the way: The Critical Advantage, a lively and informative book  about critical thinking by William Gormley, Professor of Public Policy & Government at Georgetown University. Mercifully concise, this volume (published by the Harvard Education Press) is a sparkling read that’s both big-picture and practical, with bite-size samplings of history, a little brain science, and well-guided tours of critical thinking in education, work, and civic life. (Don't be deterred by a misleading subtitle emphasizing "schools"--the book goes way beyond educational reform.)

Professor William Gormley, Georgetown University (photo, by permission: Trellace Lawrimore)


Why Now?

I began my recent conversation with Bill Gormley by asking, why now? Why the urgent need for critical thinking today?

His answer invoked the familiar cocktail of accelerating technological and socio-economic change.

“Today’s global and interconnected society is exposing us to more different people, with different views, and mounting amounts of new information. We need tools but also the human capability to sift through it all, and evaluate everything coming into our lives. And it’s not just about assessing this or that argument. We also need critical thinking to help set priorities and be adaptable to all the change coming at us.”

“In the age of Twitter, our attention spans are getting shorter. Better critical thinking can help us preserve something fundamentally precious: serious human conversation.”

Alarm bells appropriately sounded, I next asked the Georgetown prof to elaborate on his book--and provide some “application specifics”  for building more critical thinking into organizations. Here's what I learned.

A Road Map

1.Begin by understanding what critical thinking actually is. No, it’s not just criticizing other people’s ideas, or being a smart aleck. It’s a generative contribution to good decision-making, and more.

Gormley’s capsule definition is a mouthful, but every piece counts: “An open-minded but focused inquiry that seeks out relevant evidence to help analyze a question or hypothesis.”

Which is to say, critical thinking is about asking tough questions, considering and re-considering your own views in light of evidence presented, and connecting what you know to what you’re learning as arguments unfold. So if you sit through someone’s Powerpoint prez, what gets you to your final judgment—“That rings true,” or “Frankly, I’m not really convinced”—is your critical thinking. You use it to question the presenter, understand the assumptions, test and revise in your own mind what might make the best answer.

You do it every day, and probably don’t think about it enough. And some people do it better than others. Do you?

Gormley distinguished critical thinking from other cognitive abilities for the workplace. “It’s a complement to creative thinking, which is much more about novelty and inspiration, vs. analysis and weighing of arguments. Both have to be brought together to do problem-solving. Problem-solving typically leverages critical and creative thinking to find a solution to a particular issue. In the end, it’s helpful to imagine an overlapping Venn diagram among different kinds of thinking. The best performance results from  harnessing all three of them.”

(Note to readers: You might enjoy comparing and contrasting this discussion with my previous posts on creativity and problem-solving).

(Photo: Shutterstock)

2. Mindset matters as much as intellect. We moved from definitions to more serious implications when Bill further peeled apart the concept.

“By my view there are three elements of critical thinking: doubt, self-doubt, and the search for good evidence.”

His first element was obvious enough: “doubt” means being skeptical, or  “recognizing flaws in arguments, pointing out weaknesses in a particular case, being willing to speak up and point those out.” Doubt pairs nicely with his third element too: “distinguishing good evidence from bad, evaluating the sources of evidence, and the like.”

Gormley’s real breakthrough was his second element: not just “doubt” but “self-doubt” too. Here the concept borrows from theories of emotional intelligence and embeds leadership behavior of a special kind. “To be a great critical thinker you also have to be humble, and open-minded about your own views as much as those you are listening to. You have to be willing to admit you might be mistaken, and that what you believe might have to change—if the evidence warrants it.”

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Note also another subtle reference to leadership behavior in the first element, about being doubtful of others. If you're going to make a challenge, voice a specific critique, you have to have organizational courage--and that  sometimes means “speaking truth to power.”

3. The real challenge today is forging collaborative critical thinking. As Gormley continued, he added another all important nuance. Criticism must be both civil and constructive.

“When you challenge someone else, raise doubt about their conclusions or evidence, you have to do it respectfully. Self-doubt is  important because you need to communicate you’re not making a personal attack—that you too might be wrong, just as you think they could be wrong.”  The Georgetown professor stressed the point because so much work is now done collaboratively. Thus the real trick is to operate with critical thinking across teams and groups, building a culture of people using it as a shared--and respectful--problem-solving tool.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

“The old model of critical thinking was something like the Rodin statue—man sitting on a rock, alone, head bent over, deep in thought. But just as great ideas are increasingly the work of group collaboration, critical thinking also has to become a group capability. The new leadership challenge is how to socialize ‘constructive doubt’—for yourself and your entire team.”

4. Use simulations to screen job candidates for the skill. Though The Critical Advantage is not an HR handbook, the author had a few crisp ideas about harnessing his concepts to the search and hiring of critically-competent talent.

“First, absolutely mention the specific skill in your job postings— and the more you can actually define what you’re really looking for, the better.”

“Once you have candidates, screen them for their actual critical thinking abilities. Various written tests exist, but they tend to be narrow and academic. Better instead to engage would-be hires in a situational interview.”

“For example, ask candidates to talk about a decision or challenge in their former job, or more generically, something they wrestled with earlier in their life. Best of all might be to give them a specific challenge in your business today—and then ask how they would break it down. Listen for how they think about evidence, how much skepticism and also self-doubt they admit as they work through the situation for you. Focus less on their overall ‘answer’ than the thinking process they follow, and the style and personal demeanor they bring to the discussion.”

5. Use your own leadership practice to model and shape the capability. Gormley implicitly invoked the classic wisdom of “be the change you want to see,” emphasizing the all-important role for leadership.

“Whether you hire new people or are developing existing team-members, start by modelling the behavior yourself. Show doubt, self-doubt and respectfully challenge others. Ask about evidence and sources for an argument or plan. Make sure your own presentations highlight and evaluate evidence when driving to a conclusion."

"When someone you work with does the right thing, praise him or her to show the way. And watch out for critical thinking that gets personal and negative. You need to correct that right away.”

(Photo: Shutterstock)

“There are other organizational strategies to follow, too. For example, organizing skill-building workshops (e.g., the role play methodology of different thinking styles called ‘DeBono’s Hats’); creating evidence-based templates and protocols for presentations and meetings; and even organizing the layout of your office space to encourage more mixing of different people. Steve Jobs famously set up the bathrooms in Pixar so the engineers and artists would bump into each other more often—which built some new relationships, enhanced both the creative and critical thinking of the organization.”

6. Don’t just hire for the skill—build a longer term talent pipeline. Having done a lot of research on public schooling, Gormley was quick to underscore the value of education—and why building skills for critical thinking ideally starts at a young age.

“Schools are the rock of Gibraltar for this skill. Nobody spends more thinking time with kids than their teachers. Unfortunately, most of what passes for skill-building in classrooms is tasking the best achieving kids to analyze literary or historical texts—and it ends there. That can be valuable—but it isn’t reaching as many kids as it can, and what’s missing so often is building critical skills directly related to workplace needs.”

“There’s no reason that has to wait until people join the workforce. In many ways that’s too late. Apprenticeships, internships, career academies (schools within schools that deliberately blend academic and vocational learning), and other educational connections between companies and schools are great ways to bring the critical thinking needs of a job into a school, and school-based learning to the work of business. The most strategic companies are investing in bridging the realms of work and education to build and access the future talent they need.” 

(Photo: Shutterstock)

7. Strengthening the capability strengthens our society too.

Gormley finished by reflecting upon the benefit of better critical learning for America’s civic culture.

“Social media is now wrapping us all in cocoons of belief systems that we share only with other people like us. We’re getting more polarized and losing the self-awareness to ever doubt our own opinions. Nor can we respectfully critique—and learn from—others. We need to free ourselves from the technologies that are imprisoning us, and emphasize technology that liberates us. We have to do that somehow, if we’re going to think critically with one another as citizens in a democracy.”

(Photo: Shutterstock)

всего слов - 1852