Critical Thinking for Business Leaders is designed to enhance business leaders’ thinking power and effectiveness. This eight-week course teaches business leaders how to sharpen their business judgment skills, master critical thinking, apply analytical skills, and overcome obstacles. In this exciting course, students are taught the importance of analyzing complex problems from a unique perspective. Learn how to expand personal power by developing a more powerful perspective and how to apply that power in solving complex problems. This eight-week course also teaches students how to evaluate information and apply analysis to solve business problems.
Business leaders need to be able to analyze information and arrive at a reasonable solution. However, too much analysis can block the creative juices, which inhibits critical thinking. The course teaches students how to overcome obstacles, foster curiosity, and foster creativity to overcome business obstacles. Students will learn to cultivate curiosity about a particular topic, and then use that curiosity to determine if there is sufficient logic, evidence, support, or resources available to address a particular problem. Gaining a sense of curiosity is an important business skill that can help a leader to avoid being tricked or manipulated by others.
A key component of critical thinking for better judgment and decision making is the ability to “think outside the box.” Students learn how to think outside the box by exploring different possibilities and applying logic to those options. In doing so, they will develop a set of alternative decision-making strategies that work better than the ones that other people are using. In this way, they will gain an advantage over those who are less motivated to explore and debate alternative options.
Another important aspect of critical thinking for better judgment and decision making involves developing a sense of curiosity. In theory, everyone has a natural curiosity about something. However, people who lack direction in life or fail to apply their curiosity to areas where they have a natural interest, may find themselves at a loss.
Salzman and Smith introduce a series of critical thinking exercises in the third chapter of the book, which they appropriately named the “College Circuit” (pp. Ch. 1-3). These exercises help students identify the logic and basis for their strategic thinking and apply it to real-world situations.
These exercises cover four fallacies regarding the foundation of decision-making: the assumption that “any two things are really good”, the assumption that “the world is predictable”, the assumption that “innocent objects get what you want” and the false belief that “it is in human nature to commit fraud”. In the first two fallacies, the authors explain how these fallacies are not only false but also harmful because they lead to the dangerous assumption that things are necessarily good. The third fallacy is related to the second: the false belief that it is in human nature to commit fraud. Once the authors recognize that these fallacies are simply misconceptions, they then present several real examples from scientific and political science research, history, and actual case studies to illustrate that people can make reasonable and informed decisions.
The fourth chapter focuses on using critical thinking in the context of a variety of settings. Salomon and Smith discuss why it is not always appropriate to use “cognitive bias” as an approach to making judgments about decision making. Rather, they describe three other important approaches to judging the merit of a proposed course of action. They begin by describing “cognitive dynamics” and then explain how it applies to information systems, business, law enforcement, healthcare, and other areas. Finally, they describe three case studies that demonstrate the value of critical thinking and judgment in decision making.
The book contains many interesting case studies, which make it worthwhile to read. However, I do have one quibble with the authors. Although they refer repeatedly to “cognitive biases”, they do not actually identify any specific ones. That said, however, their description of how certain cognitive biases operate is still accurate. Still, if they do not detail their definition of a bias, I would read this book more carefully.
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