Critical thinking is the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement. The ability to analyse one’s own decisions and thought processes with the goal of determining if they are in fact the best decisions. It is an important part of the entrepreneurial skillset but unfortunately is one of those things that we all know by name but cannot describe. Furthermore, to find someone who can actually tell you how to think critically is difficult and that’s without discerning whether or not they are telling you the right thing.

Critical thinking is important as it allows you to look at your own decisions from the outside. An example many may be able to grasp is how you do business. You may be accustomed or conditioned to doing business in a certain manner, perhaps you have been using advertising messages that encourage people to contact for a quote or prices. The critical thinking steps will help you to look at whether or not that is the best process. So let’s look at the practical tips to critical thinking.

Question your assumptions

It is rare, if not impossible to ever have all the information available when making decisions. So decisions are usually based on assumptions of some or all of the factors involved. Therefore the first thing to do is to question the assumptions. I’ve come across many business ideas built on assumptions that the entrepreneurs thought were facts set in stone. Upon interrogating those assumptions the perspective and possibilities changed drastically.

Reason through logic

Decision making is really a case of management of emotions. While most people believe their decisions are rational and logical the reality is decisions are rooted in emotion. How we feel about something tend to play a bigger role in how we behave around it than what it actually can do for us. To this end, a logical approach is required. In order to do this one must acknowledge their emotions and set them aside. This is easier said than done. Putting things down on paper or in visual form can help to some extent with separating things. Methods such as pro/con lists or decision trees are great for this.

Seek perspective

Sometimes the problem is where you are viewing the problem from and as such you require a different perspective. By our training and daily experiences, it’s not uncommon to be moulded into a certain way of approaching problems. While this in itself is not easy to fight it does help to be able to call on the counsel of those with different perspectives from ours. Peer groups are useful for this. Another way to regularly gain perspective in approach is to read widely. I’ve done many articles on books to open your mind on different elements and skills. Seeing the problem from different viewpoint may unlock the puzzle.

Concepts like critical thinking may seem like fanciful ideas for those operating in flourishing economies but in reality, our situation not only requires more if it but a lot faster too. Our shifting policy environment can completely shut down ways of doing business that were relied on by many. To this end, it is an exercise one must undertake. It’s also a matter of practice and not so much a destination you arrive at but a skill you nurture.