The concept of critical thinking has been around for a very long time and it has a contentious relationship with the business world.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the concept of critical thinking was introduced as "thinking outside the box." The notion was that businesses always stayed within the confines of particular ideas and never strayed from them. The true innovators and business leaders strayed away from those accepted ideas and stepped outside of those boundaries to find the best ideas to drive new business innovation.
As with any good idea, the marketing experts rebranded "thinking outside the box" as critical thinking. This new title makes the process sound much more productive and it also makes it sound official. When you say that your company engages in critical thinking, it sounds like your company is a think-tank where a bevy of new and innovative ideas is constantly being generated.
Even though critical thinking has been shown to be effective, there are still many companies that try to shy away from it. The reason is that critical thinking involves risk. When a business decides to try something that has never been tried before, that business will take on a significant amount of risk. Company resources are brought together to make the new idea work.
If the new idea is not profitable, then it will damage the company's finances and its reputation. But if the idea works, then the company becomes an industry leading innovator.
Critical thinking starts with a diverse workforce. If you have a workforce of people from the same professional and personal backgrounds, then you are not going to get a wide variety of new ideas. But if you bring together people with different cultural, educational and professional backgrounds, then you will start to see the positive results of critical thinking.
Bringing together a diverse workforce is one of the aspects of critical thinking that has allowed companies to expand their influence to international markets. If a company is trying to find new ways to reach an Asian target audience, then having staff members of Asian descent is extremely helpful.
But when your Asian staff members are allowed to hear ideas from people of other cultures, then the entire group can begin to create new ideas that would work in an Asian market, but have never been tried before.
This mixing of cultures and professional backgrounds is responsible for much of the business innovation that we see today. Companies are constantly looking for an edge in their marketplace, and critical thinking with a diverse group of employees helps to create that edge.
If you want to introduce critical thinking into your company, then you should utilize the services of a critical thinking consultant. The consultant will help your company to get used to doing critical thinking exercises and show you how to use all of those new ideas to your advantage. It could be the thing that turns your small business into a large industry leader that is recognized for its innovation and large market share.
Jan Kantor is a Southwest Florida business consultant and executive coach. For more information, or to contact him regarding workplace solutions, his website is www.jankantor.com.