Are you wondering why you need to hone your critical thinking skills as an intrapreneur? In this blog, we are going to discuss the importance of sharpening critical thinking skills and benefits.
Josh’s Story reminded us of the importance of honing critical thinking skills and so my 5 years old son did. We were reading his goodnight story that happens to have an episode of a knight fighting with some terrible monster. Of course, the knight won the battle.
My son asked me: Mom, and the monster died? Without thinking twice I answered, “no my dear, he will recover.” He thought carefully and kept silent for 3 seconds, then he shot me his second question, “Mom, why don’t you like it when someone dies in a story. Is it because if he is dead, then he goes to the sky?”
I tried to answer but my argumentation wasn’t clear. This brought more questions “Mom, Why do we go to the sky? When? How?, Do they have food? What kind of food do we eat over there? You said that just old people go to the sky, the monster wasn’t old? If I die, will I go to the sky? Can we come back? And if yes How?”
Oh, gosh. I wasn’t ready for that interrogation. When he finally fell to sleep, I felt reassured, and I said to my husband “Dear I need to prepare a good argument for that pitch as I felt that I confused him.” Of course, I confuse him, my chain of reasoning, premises, and argumentation to bring him to the conclusion that we all go to the sky after death was quite incoherent and full of biases. Worst, I am not sure if I want to bring him to that conclusion.
As the jury of intrapreneur projects, I see this all the time. Many exciting newcomers present the base of their project on a series of arguments that lack structure and are not supported by data or even worse they don’t have a clear hypothesis of the problem they are trying to solve. Some focused on how hard they worked on the prototype or explained how great the new technology is.
But didn’t present a clear argumentation that validates their first hypothesis “the problem or market opportunity”, no data to support not to mention the lack of coherent flow.
One of the most common mistakes of passionate intrapreneurs is to have a very strong position and ignore data. “I am sure this is going to work because none did it before and have a patent.”
On an intrapreneurship journey, you must choose among a series of alternatives and evaluate different sources of disagreements. You are validating a lot of hypotheses, maybe not the one about going to the sky after we died, this one indeed is very hard to validate. But you need to start questioning each of your arguments and take a position based on clear reasoning. You could probably start with the problem, and then your solution, offer, or product. Then you must decide which market you are going to address? What is the best business model? What is the scope of your Proof of concept, MVP minimum Valuable product? Go-to-market? So in this process, you have a lot of opportunities to hone your critical thinking skills.
For doing so critical thinking will help you as a framework for making and analyzing data so we can formulate sound strategies. The essence of critical thinking is to be available to put the pieces together to ensure that your arguments are well structured and validate your conclusion. This structured reasoning will be key to help you to communicate and to convince potential sponsors, partners, colleagues, and customers.
What Is Critical Thinking?
The intellectual roots of critical thinking are as ancient to the teaching practice and vision of Socrates 2,500 years ago. Socrates’ practice was followed by the critical thinking of Plato, Aristotle, and the Greek skeptics. Today critical thinking skills are among the top 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Critical thinking is defined as the ability to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas. I use to explain it as the “ability to connect the dots, to question ideas and assumptions rather than accepting them”.
This process involves the evaluation of sources such as data, facts, observable phenomenon, and research findings. Good critical thinkers can draw reasonable conclusions from a set of information and discriminate between useful and less useful details to solve a problem or make a decision.
For doing so, we must be transparent and identify the root cause of each disagreement or any weak point in our arguments. When an intrapreneur is presenting a project, we prefer to listen, “yes, I know this issue but we are prepared because our plan considers it and we have some data to prove it” instead of “this is not going to happen I promise you!”
You must understand that the strength of your arguments reflects the probability or likelihood that you will attract talent, resources, support, and of course customers.
Five steps to Hone Your Critical Thinking Skills
1. Formulating The Problem and Vital Questions
You need to start with a conclusion “ the problem you want to solve and your hypothesis Formulating them clearly and precisely and then build structured arguments that support your conclusion.
2. Gather, Assess And Analyze Relevant Information
You need to carefully examine a set of data and information to understand what it means, and what it represents. You must understand the links between ideas, determine what is relevant, what is important. Here let’s be pragmatic, you will not find answers to all questions but doing some research and discussing with others is better than keeping on your beliefs.
3. Test Your Arguments Against Relevant Criteria
To think critically, you need to be able to put aside any assumptions or judgments and merely analyze the information you receive. For doing so you must define a set of criteria to solve the problem. You need to be objective, evaluating ideas without bias and recognize inconsistencies and mistakes, and be open to new systems. These biases are a source of distraction. We will explore in detail the most common intrapreneurs’ biases in future posts.
4. Have A System And Logic Approach To Solve Problems
Recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences. You must consider different scenarios and forecast the outcomes of each alternative and then choose the alternative that best matches the criteria that you have chosen.
5. Communicate Effectively
As an intrapreneur, you need to share your conclusions with customers, team members, partners, or with a group of colleagues. For doing so you must be able to communicate and share your ideas effectively with others.
In summary, everyone thinks, but we’re not doing enough critical thinking. For intrapreneurship projects or any other new venture, there is a lot of uncertainty and biases. Developing your critical thinking skills will help you to be able to connect the dots. Critical thinkers identify, analyze, and solve problems systematically rather than by intuition or instinct.
As intrapreneur we will face daily situations to apply these skills, defining which market to start, evaluating the different business models, and reviewing feedback after end-user experimentation to define the next step, to accept or justify a pivot. Critical thinking will help you to make the best decision and evaluate them properly. Remember your argumentation needs a logic flow and enough evidence to prove your decision or conclusion based on your set of defined criteria.
Beyond “intrapreneurship”, it is quite useful for everyday situations such as explaining clearly to 5 years old what happens after the knight won the battle against the monster!
We will share some advice and tools on each of these five steps, keep following!
What are your thoughts on how to hone your critical thinking skills?.
Critical Analytical Thinking- Stanford LEAD by Professor Haim Mendelson