O'Reilly logo
live online training icon Live Online training

Introduction to Critical Thinking

The basics for business

Topic: Career Development
Connie Missimer

Critical thinking is the consideration of alternative arguments or theories in light of evidence; it consists of weighing two or more ideas to see which is closer to the truth. In fact, you’re already using critical thinking skills in some aspects of your life. In this two-hour class, you’ll learn why getting into the habit of critical thinking is crucial in the workplace.

Through a combination of discussion and exercises, you’ll explore why this way of thinking is different from other types of thinking, such as following a habit or deciding on gut instinct; why critical thinking equips you to move toward better answers or more effective solutions; and how you can use critical thinking to facilitate innovative thinking. Finally, you’ll learn that critical thinking is not at all difficult—in fact, it can be deeply satisfying—once you learn what it is and appreciate its value. You’ll leave this class equipped with examples that you can draw on to immediately use critical thinking in your workplace and improve products and process.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

By the end of this live, online course, you’ll understand:

  • The definition of critical thinking
  • Why critical thinking is crucial to solving problems and innovating
  • How it applies to everyday business

And you’ll be able to

  • Apply critical thinking skills to business needs
  • Become more effective in your work
  • Work with your team to solve problems and approach barriers to critical thinking

This training course is for you because...

  • You’re a manager in any area of your company and you need to help your team identify and solve problems.
  • You’re an individual contributor in any area of your company and you want to become a thought leader in your area.
  • You lead a growing company, and you need to know how to infuse critical thinking into your workforce.

Prerequisites

Please reflect on and be prepared to discuss the items in this document - Pre-Class Reflections

Read Chapter 1 “Entering the Exciting World of Critical Thinking“ from Critical Thinking Skills For Dummies

Read the article “The Lost Art of Thinking in Large Organizations,” MIT Sloan Mangement Review

Read Chapters 1 and 2 Does Your Company POUND or FLEX

About your instructor

  • Connie Missimer is a philosopher and an expert in critical thinking. Connie’s fascinated by empirical findings, especially strong counterintuitive ones, relating to daily work. She's the author of influential articles on her empirically based theory of critical thinking and has conducted workshops both nationally and internationally. Previously, Connie was a senior manager at AT&T, where she advised cell phone and tablet partners Samsung, HTC, Microsoft, and Google on making their products more user friendly, and worked on MS Learning and Windows and in the Tablet Group at Microsoft. She holds over a dozen patents. Connie is the author of a number of books, including Good Arguments: An Introduction to Critical Thinking, now in its fourth edition, which offers the basics in analyzing theories and arguments, and her latest, Critical Thinking at Work: Does Your Company Pound or Flex? She holds an MS in philosophical literature from UC Berkeley and an MS in human-centered design and engineering from the University of Washington.

Schedule

The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Critical Thinking: Introduction, definition, and relevance in today’s workplace (25 minutes)

  • Lecture: Defining critical thinking
  • Exercise: Share examples of recent critical thinking
  • Lecture: History of critical thinking as the core of progress and innovation; using critical thinking to uncover and help solve problems
  • Exercise: Use critical thinking to decide where to vacation
  • Lecture: Why critical thinking is crucial for your team to succeed
  • Exercise: Share examples where critical thinking was not used at work

Barriers to critical thinking at your company plus ways to approach them (25 minutes)

  • Lecture: Defining three barriers to critical thinking in the workplace
  • Exercise: Identifying barriers to critical thinking in your workplace

Break (10 minutes)

Applying critical thinking to daily business (30 minutes)

  • Lecture: Review of a fictional company and its struggles to create a smaller spin-off product from a highly successful product; understand how habit is the enemy of critical thinking
  • Exercise: Identifying habits in your workplace that might stifle new ways of thinking
  • Lecture: Review five examples of how critical thinking can affect your everyday actions at work: process, meetings, reports, emails, and overall company strategy
  • Exercise: Identify alternatives and provide evidence for changing habits and changing behavior to encourage critical thinking
  • Exercise: Identify alternate outcomes to situations in the examples that would have led to better outcomes; consider what actions could be taken next.

How to apply critical thinking to your life and team every day (20 minutes)

  • Lecture: How to think critically about the tolerance for critical thinking in your workplace
  • Exercise: Hypothetical examples of companies that encourage or discourage critical thinking
  • Exercise: Measuring your understanding of critical thinking

Question and Answer (10 minutes)