What’s Happened to Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking. Execs rank it as the #1 workplace skill. And the U.S. Department of Labor has labeled it the foundation of problem solving, decision making, creativity, strategic planning, and more. And it’s also what separates those who can succeed at the top of the food chain from those who cannot.

What exactly is critical thinking?

Google searches turn up thousands of hits and varied definitions. On a basic level, I think we can all agree it’s about understanding the problem at hand, evaluating the evidence, and then making a rational, thoughtful decision.

But are people losing their ability to think critically?

A recent survey conducted by SHRM and The Conference Board found that 70% of employees with a high school education have deficient critical thinking skills. And among employees with a four-year college education, 9% were deficient, 63% had adequate skills, and only 28%—a little better than one in four—were rated excellent critical thinkers.

Think about it (pun intended). We’ve become used to instant gratification. Technology, the Internet, and easy access to information are now literally at our fingertips. Is all of this contributing to the “dumbing down” of critical thinking skills?

The fact is that despite all of these advances in technology, companies still need to incorporate critical thinking into all aspects of their organization—including their training programs—if they want to remain competitive in today’s environment. Because coupled with the speed of business is the need for employees to act faster, be smarter, and think on their feet.

HRDQ recently introduced Critical Thinking Skills, one of the newest titles in the Reproducible Training Library (RTL).

If you’re not familiar with the RTL, check it out. Critical Thinking Skills sharpens skills by helping individuals to better understand problems, evaluate evidence, and make solid decisions. It equips them to apply the critical thinking process in business situations and avoid mistakes. People with well-developed critical thinking skills have greater potential to excel and better overall job performance. And as trainers, that’s really what we’re after, right?

Critical thinking skills training. If you ask me, it’s, well, critical.

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