“Nothing is so well learned as that which is discovered,” said a wise man about three thousand years ago.
It was actually a very wise man. Socrates to be precise. The father of Western philosophy.
Before Socrates, philosophy was mainly about mathematics and answering questions about our natural world. Socrates expanded on that and added questions about ethics and politics.
Without delving into a tutorial on the Classical World, we owe a great debt Socrates. He showed how argument, debate, and discussion could help people to understand difficult issues, and what’s more he willingly died to support the idea that knowledge and wisdom are important to our lives.
Socrates acknowledged that wisdom lay in knowing that he was ignorant. He also established the fact that one cannot depend upon those in “authority” to have sound knowledge and insight. And it’s for that reason, he questioned everything.
What’s this got to do modern day business, I hear you ask? Well, it has everything to do with it.
Socrates is one of the earliest examples of critical thinking. And never has that been more important as we navigate an information-rich world.
Critical thinking is vital in business performance. Especially when change needs to be addressed or challenges be overcome. It means assessing evidence from a variety of sources and making reasoned conclusions.
Lack of critical thinking can mean poor decision-making. It’s why it’s imperative to sometimes slow down, even stop, and carve out the time to ask more — dare we say, better — questions. Critical thinking can lead to different outcomes, steered by discussions based around questions, based on the challenges you’re trying to overcome.
It means expanding a view around a business challenge. In can also help to challenge basic assumptions or affirm your understanding in order to feel more confident in your conclusions.
Kritical thinking is one of Konductor’s key pillars in its four-K approach. Not to be confused with Kuriosity (also part of the great questioning and listening process), the pillar means working with our clients and taking ideas and strategy and turning them into action.
Every idea isn’t rooted in reality, so it’s where we challenge and push back, using both in-sector and out of sector knowledge. It’s also where we join action to numbers. It’s a combination of data and insights, problem-solving to remove obstacles and applying best practice.
Here is our hit list of questions to help prompt critical thinking conversations.
1. Do you know why you win customers? Do you know why you lose customers?
2. What matters to your customers?
3. Is there another way to look at the problem?
4. Can you give examples? Do you have insight?
5. What is your success criteria and how will you know when you’re there?
6. Why? Why? Why?