I guess we’d all agree that everyone needs critical thinking and problem-solving– be it a vegetable vendor deciding which street to sell on which day and at what price, or a little baby crawling and trying to reach a toy out of the many sprawled on the floor in front of him, or a forex trader deciding when to exit the dollar or the yen. Yet, it is one of the most ignored and under-emphasized skill sets that gets developed in us. Typically, we are a bunch of traditional problem solvers – using past data to solve current problems. In fact, in a lot of cases, we do not spend time understanding the problem and simply go ahead and “solve the symptoms”.
After having struggled with this concept for long enough, I believe that critical-thinking based problem solving involves at least the following inter-related skill sets:
- Clarity of thought (to look at the big picture and segregate the problem from its symptoms)
- Creativity (to go beyond the obvious but not losing sight of the problem itself)
- Poise (not getting overwhelmed by the problem or its ramifications)
- Analytics (breaking down data and identifying not-so-obvious trends)
It is but obvious that developing oneself as a critical thinker requires a pretty deep learning journey interspersed with continuous practice!