The concept of critical thinking has been around since time immemorial. Efforts to define the concept date as back as two and a half millennia ago. However, considerable attempts to define the idea of critical thinking can effectively be attributed to the mid 20th century. Just like the broad field of philosophy, critical thinking cannot be assigned a single accurate and precise definition. Even so, from the principles embraced by the idea, a reasonable definition can be drawn. As such, critical thinking can be said to be an independent, sober thinking which endeavors to reason at the greatest level of eminence in an open-minded manner (Chaffee, 2012). Critical thinking is a branch of philosophy and can be applied in almost all spheres of life. This paper addresses the application of the critical thinking concept in decision making in the work environment.
Perhaps the most appropriate example out of personal experience is the recruitment process at the workplace. Usually, when any employers need to fill a vacancy in their organization, they will advertise the vacant post as the first step of the recruitment process. In the current world, where a considerable percentage of the population is academically qualified and professionally proficient in various fields, it is impracticable to rely on one’s academic qualifications in deciding who best qualifies for the job. As such the employers will definitely organize some sort of oral procedure of interviewing and screening the applicants. From experience, the interview process entails questions that anyone can answer, including the untrained person. The purpose of such oral screening is to evaluate how the applicant can critically analyze and judge a situation. The employer then chooses from among the applicants the candidate they deem most critical.
The importance and benefits of critical thinking in the decision making process are quite a number. Decision making is a complex multi-step process that requires the decision maker to be very objective and sober all through the process (Chaffee, 2012). This calls for critical thinking skills. Critical thinking helps eliminate or rather mitigate the chances of there being prejudice or discrimination in the decision making processes. Thinking critically removes biases that may result in making of incompetent decisions. Similarly, critical thinking enhances perspective. The essence of perspective is to separate emotion from reason. Separating these two is the first step towards achieving sobriety and objectivity in the decision making process. In the contemporary workplace, employing concepts such as emotional intelligence is a common practice. This however, does not justify the employment of emotion in the decision making process.
Decision making involves problem solving at some point. Critical thinking is the most effective method of problem solving. This is because it enables the decision maker to weigh various solutions and available options. In the process of trying to solve an issue many possible solutions come up but most of them are usually ignored because they do not fall within the ordinary set of solutions (Dwyer, 2012). A critical thinker however will try to explore more options and as a result they may end up establishing even more effective solutions to the issue. Related to this, is the issue of tackling non-routine scenarios. People in organizations are used to making decisions on activities and situations within the ordinary framework. However, chances are that at some point a decision maker finds himself in such a position that he has to tackle a situation that is not part of the daily routine. Such a situation calls for a sober and open minded person. Critical reasoning will open up many options.
Critical thinking is a rich source of new ideas. Decision making is about making choices depending on the knowledge and experience of the decision maker. It is a common practice for people to make decisions out of past experience where the case was exactly the same or was substantially similar to the issue at hand. This is not recommended in the contemporary workplace decision making environment. Thinking about the issue from various angles and perspectives, as well as involving more people in the process gives birth to innovative ideas (Dwyer, 2012). Such fresh ideas may be used in improving the quality and standards within an organization. In conclusion, it is clear that from the foregoing, critical thinking is a very important and highly beneficial concept to the decision making environment. It should be employed by organizations and individuals in dealing with every day decisions as it is associated with reason and objectivity.
Chaffee, J. (2012) Thinking critically. Boston. Cengage Learning
Dwyer, S. (2012). Critical Thinking: The Art of Argument. Boston Cengage Learning