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Innovative and Critical Thinking: Training Your Brain to Solve Problems and Create Solutions


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Our ability to learn new ways to think is the power of human potential. We have to make choices about the types of thinking that we apply to a variety of different challenges. Critical Thinking is the act of examining a set of facts and analyzing and evaluating relevant information. We live in a knowledge based society, and the more critically you think the better your knowledge will be. Critical Thinking provides you with the skills to analyze and evaluate information so that you are able to obtain the greatest amount of knowledge from it. It provides the best chance of making the correct decision, and minimizes damages if a mistake does occur. Critical Thinking will lead to being a more rational and disciplined thinker. It will reduce your prejudice and bias, which will provide you a better understanding of your environment.
This workshop will provide you the skills to evaluate, identify, and distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information. It will lead you to be more productive in your career, and provide a great skill in your everyday life. Lastly, critical thinking skills will support your capacity to be innovative. Once you fully understand what it is, you can begin exploring what could be.

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to answer the following questions:

a. What is critical thinking?
b. How can I use nonlinear thinking strategies?
c. What does it mean for me to apply logic to situations?
d. How do I know when, how, and why to think critically about a challenge?
e. What skills allow be to better evaluate facts and data?
f. How will thinking differently effect my decision outcomes?
g. How can I challenge my self to see alternate perspectives?
h. How can I increase my problem solving abilities?

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Innovative and Critical Thinking: Training Your Brain to Solve Problems and Create Solutions

  1. 1. Innovative and Creative Thinking Training Your Brain to Solve Problems and Create Solutions
  2. 2. Workshop Objectives • What is critical thinking? • How can I use nonlinear thinking strategies? • What does it mean for me to apply logic to situations? • How do I know when, how and why to think critically about a challenge? • What skills allow me to better evaluate facts and data? • How will thinking differently effect my decision outcomes? • How can I challenge myself to see alternative perspectives? • How can I increase my problem-solving abilities?
  3. 3. Module 1: “Intelligence is something we are born with. Thinking is a skill that must be learned.” - Edward de Bono What Is Critical Thinking?
  4. 4. What is Critical Thinking? • Critical thinking is the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment. • Critical thinking is logic-based thinking. • Critical thinking relates to how we make decisions and use our judgment. WB p67
  5. 5. Why is Critical Thinking Important? As new professionals, the ability to think critically and be creative is important because we live in a knowledge-based society, and the more critically you think the more knowledgeable you will be. Critical thinking cultivates your ability to analyze and evaluate information so that you can best use the information to your advantage.
  6. 6. Components of Critical Thinking In this module, we will discuss four components of critical thinking. They are: • Open Mindedness • Applying Reason • Analysis • Logic
  7. 7. Open Mindedness Consider relevant evidence Be receptive to different ideas or opinions Be open to alternatives WB p68
  8. 8. Applying Reason Applying reason is the process of thinking about something in a logical way in order to form a conclusion or judgment Try to avoid emotional bias when applying reason WB p69
  9. 9. Analysis • Systematic examination and evaluation of data or information • Break down complex problems into its component parts • Gain a better understanding of cause- effect relationships
  10. 10. Logic Logic is the science of how to evaluate arguments and reasoning Logic provides rules for deriving valid conclusions Logical statements are based on facts called “premises”
  11. 11. Riddle: The Fox, the Sheep, and the Haystack A farmer is traveling with a fox, a sheep, and a small stack of hay. He comes to a river with a small boat in it. The boat can only support the farmer and one other animal/item. If the farmer leaves the fox alone with the sheep, the fox will eat the sheep. If the farmer leaves the sheep alone with the hay, the sheep will eat the hay. How can the farmer get all three, as well as himself, safely across the river? WB p70
  12. 12. Riddle Answer: The Fox, the Sheep, and the Haystack 1. The farmer takes the sheep across the river to the other side. 2. The farmer returns to the first side. 3. The farmer takes the fox across the river to the other side. 4. The farmer returns with the sheep to the first side. 5. The farmer takes the hay across the river to the other side. 6. The farmer returns to the first side. 7. The farmer takes the sheep across the river to the other side.
  13. 13. Reflect What kind of problems do you face? How do you go about solving them? WB p70
  14. 14. Module 2: “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires a creative imagination…” - Albert Einstein How Can I Use Nonlinear Thinking Strategies?
  15. 15. What Is Nonlinear Thinking? • Two common ways to analyze a problem are through linear and nonlinear thinking • Linear thinkers follow a step-by-step process • Nonlinear thinkers use more creative, unorthodox methods • Nonlinear thinking is also called “lateral thinking”
  16. 16. Nonlinear Thinking Strategies Four strategies to activate your nonlinear thinking process are: • Stepping out of your comfort zone • Don’t jump to conclusions • Expect and initiate change • Be ready to adapt
  17. 17. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone View information from a different perspective Stretch your thinking WB p71
  18. 18. Don’t Jump to Conclusions Take the time to acquire all necessary information Know the premises (facts)
  19. 19. Expect and Initiate Change “Be the change you wish to see” Nothing stays the same Expecting change will better prepare you to adapt
  20. 20. Being Ready to Adapt Adjust or modify to different conditions Adaptation is a survival skill
  21. 21. Module 3: “Reasoning is simply a matter of getting your facts straight.” - B.F. Anderson What Does It Mean For Me to Apply Logic to Situations?
  22. 22. Major Steps of Logical Thinking The four major steps of logical thinking are: • Asking the right questions • Organizing data • Evaluating the information • Drawing conclusions
  23. 23. Ask the Right Questions Ask many questions What are the premises? Any vital information missing?
  24. 24. Organize the Data First, make sure you know the premise Make a diagram organizing the data Make meaningful connections
  25. 25. Evaluate the Information Is the information valid? Is the information true? Belief bias Confirmation bias
  26. 26. Draw Conclusions Infer only what the data implies Ensure inferences are consistent Identify underlying assumptions
  27. 27. Module 4: “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” - Voltaire How Do I Know When, How and Why to Think Critically About A Challenge?
  28. 28. Characteristics of Critical Thinking What are some characteristics of critical thinkers? In Module 4, we will discuss eight characteristics of critical thinkers: • Active Listening • Asking Powerful Questions • Focus and Reflection • Being Humble • Seeing the Big Picture • Thinking Objectively • Using Your Emotions • Being Self-Aware WB p72
  29. 29. Active Listening As a Critical Thinking Strategy Active listening allows you to gain all the critical information and facts that you need to support you in making better decisions. “The ear says more than the tongue.” - W.S. Graham
  30. 30. Powerful Questions Lead to Better Outcomes • Raising powerful questions advocates self-improvement and allows you to find out more information. • Examples of powerful questions: - What does the organization value? - What is important to the organization’s culture? - What are my strengths and weaknesses? - How does my job fit into the structure of the organization? WB p73
  31. 31. Focus and Reflection Use reasoning skills Evaluate and reflect Ask for support when needed Think positive and be aware of the environment WB p73
  32. 32. Be Humble Keep an open mind Be receptive to new information Be modest regarding your own opinion
  33. 33. Seeing the Big Picture Step 3: Interpreting convergences and divergences Convergences reinforce events or ideas Divergences are points that do not reinforce events or ideas Step 2: Determining a hierarchy of information Step 1: Laying out the entire account
  34. 34. Thinking Objectively Thinking objectively means basing our ideas on facts rather than feelings or opinions Helps us engage more thoughtfully and deliberately
  35. 35. Using Your Emotions As A Critical Thinking Strategy • Emotions should not be ignored entirely • Professionals need empathy • Allow your emotions to help you, not cloud your judgment
  36. 36. Being Self-Aware Being self-aware means being conscious of your own personality or character. Specifically, you should be aware of your: • Feelings • Opinions • Assumptions WB p74
  37. 37. Module 5: “True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.” - Winston Churchill What Skills Allow Me To Better Evaluate Facts and Data?
  38. 38. Evaluating Information A big challenge in the process of critical thinking is how to evaluate information. The best critical thinkers are those people, as Winston Churchill noted, who are capable of gleaning through information that may be unclear or conflicting. In this module, we will delve deeper into the process of evaluation.
  39. 39. Be Careful When Making Assumptions Assumptions are the beliefs upon which we base our logic Assumptions are ideas that we accept as true without proof or evidence When assumptions are proven to be true, they become information WB p75
  40. 40. Riddle: The Bus Driver A bus driver was heading down a street in Colorado. He went right past a stop sign without stopping, he turned left where there was a “no left turn” sign, and he went the wrong way on a one- way street. Then he went on the left side of the road past a cop car. After all this, he still didn’t break any traffic laws. How is this possible?
  41. 41. Riddle Answer: The Bus Driver The bus driver is walking. Be sure not to assume anything that the facts (premises) don’t tell you.
  42. 42. Watch Out for Bias Cannot eliminate completely Be careful using preconceived opinions Use objectivity to oppose bias
  43. 43. Ask Clarifying Questions • Asking the right questions is important • Helps to acquire more information • Other questions will arise “Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind.” - Samuel Johnson
  44. 44. SWOT Analysis A SWOT Analysis allows us to think about business situations objectively by identifying internal factors (strengths and weaknesses), as well as external factors (opportunities and threats). Strengths Weaknesses Opportuniti es Threats
  45. 45. Module 6: “The ability to perceive or think differently is more important than the knowledge gained.” - David Bohm How Will Thinking Differently Effect My Decision Outcomes?
  46. 46. Benefits of Critical Thinking Critical thinking helps us make better decisions and rationally apply information. While there are many benefits to critical thinking, in this module, we will examine only the following: • Being more persuasive • Better communication • Better problem solving • Increased emotional intelligence
  47. 47. Being More Persuasive “To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; (to be) credible we must be truthful.” - Edward R. Murrow • Persuasiveness is the characteristic of being able to influence others • Utilizing a deliberate and thoughtful thinking process will improve your ability to persuade others
  48. 48. Better Communication The use of analogies and metaphors can improve persuasiveness Use clear language The ability to communicate effectively is directly related to your ability to be persuasive
  49. 49. Better Problem Solving Critical thinkers interpret information effectively to reach well-reasoned conclusions Critical thinking allows you to develop multiple viable solutions to a single issue Critical thinkers test all possible solutions against relevant criteria and standards
  50. 50. Increased Emotional Intelligence • Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand one’s own state of mind and one’s capabilities to manage oneself, to respond constructively to situations, and to engage successfully with other people. • High performing professionals have the ability to effectively execute their duties without being negatively influenced by their emotions.
  51. 51. Increased Emotional Intelligence SELF AWARENESS  Emotional Self-Awareness  Accurate Self-Assessment  Self-Confidence SOCIAL AWARNESS  Empathy  Organizational Awareness  Service Orientation SELF-MANAGEMENT  Self-Control  Transparency  Adaptability  Achievement Drive  Initiative RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT  Inspirational Leadership  Developing Others  Influence  Change Catalyst  Conflict Management  Building Bonds  Teamwork & Collaboration WHATISEEWHATIDO SELF SOCIAL Figure depicts Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence model WB p75
  52. 52. Module 7: “Everyone sees drama from his own perspective.” - Jean-Marie Le Pen How Can I Challenge Myself To See Alternative Perspectives?
  53. 53. See Alternative Perspective Keep an open mind Be receptive to the ideas and viewpoints of others Alternative perspectives can lead to alternative solutions WB p76
  54. 54. Don’t Limit Your Point of View Closed mind Bias Limited point of view
  55. 55. Consider the Viewpoints of Others Be empathetic Helps to see the bigger picture Promotes objectivity in the critical thinking process
  56. 56. Influences on Bias Emotions influence our perceptions How information is framed by the speaker How we interpret information
  57. 57. When New Information Arrives Organization schemas help to compartmentalize new information Identify the role that the new information plays Organization schemas also make information easier to use in the future
  58. 58. Module 8: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” - Albert Einstein How Can I Increase My Problem Solving Abilities?
  59. 59. Increasing Problem Solving Abilities Utilize your critical thinking skills Follow a problem- solving model Practice your skills and reflect upon the outcomes
  60. 60. Problem Solving Model
  61. 61. Riddle: 12 Balls, 1 Different You have 12 balls, identical in every way except that one of them weighs slightly less than the other 11 balls. You have a balance scale and are allowed to do 3 weighings to determine which ball weighs less than the others. What process would you use to weigh the balls in order to figure out which ball weighs less than the others? WB p77
  62. 62. Riddle Answer: 12 Balls, 1 Different 1. Place 6 balls on each side of the scale. One side will weigh less. 2. Take the 6 balls from the side of the scale that weighed less. Place 3 of these balls on one side of the scale and the other 3 balls on the other side. One side will weigh less. 3. Take the 3 balls from the side of the scale that weighed less. Place one of these balls on each side of the scale (which will leave you with one ball that is not on the scale). If one side weighs less, then you know the ball that weighs less than the others is on that side of the scale. If the two sides weigh the same, then you know the 3rd ball (the one that isn’t on the scale) is the ball that weighs less than the others.
  63. 63. Riddle: A Truth Teller and a Liar • You are walking down a path when you come to two doors. Opening one of the doors will lead you to life of prosperity and happiness, while opening the other door will lead to a life of misery and sorrow. You don’t know which door leads to which life. • In front of the doors stand two twin brothers who know which door leads to which life. One of the brothers ALWAYS lies and the other brother ALWAYS tells the truth. You don’t know which brother is the liar and which one tells the truth. • You are allowed to ask ONE single question to ONE of the brothers (not both) to figure out which door to open. What question should you ask? WB p77
  64. 64. Riddle Answer: A Truth Teller and a Liar • Ask one of the brothers, “If I asked your brother which door is the good door, what would he say?” • If you ask the truth-telling brother, he will point to the bad door, because this is what the lying brother would point to. • Alternatively, if you ask the lying brother, he will also point to the bad door, because this is NOT what the truth-telling brother would point to. • So whichever door is pointed to, you should go through the other one.
  65. 65. Identify Inconsistencies Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors Use logic and objectivity to see variances Natural tendency to eliminate inconsistencies
  66. 66. Trust Your Instincts • Instincts are your natural intuitive power • Beneficial when paired with trial and error, informed guesses and brainstorming • Watch out for biases and assumptions that are not based on facts WB p78
  67. 67. Always Ask Questions Asking questions helps you gain more information Asking questions can lead to new solutions Ask questions at every stage of problem solving process
  68. 68. Evaluate the Solution(s) Make a diagram listing pros and cons of each solution Develop criteria for evaluation Prioritize the criteria Rate the proposed solutions
  69. 69. Review: Workshop Objectives • What is critical thinking? • How can I use nonlinear thinking strategies? • What does it mean for me to apply logic to situations? • How do I know when, how and why to think critically about a challenge? • What skills allow me to better evaluate facts and data? • How will thinking differently effect my decision outcomes? • How can I challenge myself to see alternative perspectives? • How can I increase my problem-solving abilities?