Critical thinking in the organization

Even the mainstream training field is realizing that reduced layers of bureaucracy mean decision-making gets pushed down the organization chart. This is the message of the AMA in the promotional video – Critical Thinking: Not just a C-suite skill.  However, wirearchy takes this one important step further by advocating a two-way flow of power and authority. In both cases, the need for critical thinking is evident. Here is Edward Glaser’s definition:

Critical thinking calls for a persistent effort to examine any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the evidence that supports it and the further conclusions to which it tends. It also generally requires ability to recognize problems, to find workable means for meeting those problems, to gather and marshal pertinent information, to recognize unstated assumptions and values, to comprehend and use language with accuracy, clarity, and discrimination, to interpret data, to appraise evidence and evaluate arguments, to recognize the existence (or non-existence) of logical relationships between propositions, to draw warranted conclusions and generalizations, to put to test the conclusions and generalizations at which one arrives, to reconstruct one’s patterns of beliefs on the basis of wider experience, and to render accurate judgments about specific things and qualities in everyday life.

A personal knowledge management process can help to develop critical thinking skills, where sense-making includes observing, studying, challenging (especially one’s assumptions), and evaluating. Developing these skills takes practice, appropriate feedback and an environment that supports critical thinking.

Several web tools can be used to develop critical thinking skills; the foundation of PKM:

Flattening the organization is one way to open communications and delegate responsibility but asking employees to engage in real critical thinking, and accepting the resulting actions, will not work unless there is a two-way flow of power and authority. Critical thinking is not just thinking more deeply but also asking difficult and discomfiting questions. Without power and authority, these become meaningless.

So yes, critical thinking is not just for the C-suite, but unleashing it requires a new framework for getting work done. Wirearchy as the organizational framework, coupled with active personal knowledge management processes, is a step in that direction.

5 Responses to “Critical thinking in the organization”

  1. Harold Jarche

    Here’s a comment sent by John Tropea, via e-mail:

    Related to this is critical thinking in KM based on Karl Popper and Fallibilism

    Learning and Knowledge Making in an Evolutionary and Critical Perspective

    Personal Knowledge Processing and Knowledge Management

    This presentation on corporate epistemology is a killer

    I drafted a post on Joe Firestone’s thinking a year ago but never got round to publishing it…maybe soon

    Mark Gould published something

    John Tropea


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