Criticalthinking is a very important skill needed for today’s leaders andmanagers who have to come up with effective solutions to arisingproblems. It is through high level critical thinking skills thatsolutions developed by leaders can accommodate all the importantfacts, weigh all the options, consider assumptions and developrelevant and innovative solutions with clarity and consistency(Walker 2014). There are two main ways that individuals can channeltheir thought processes namely persuasive and scientific thinking.Below is a discussion about two problems that I have solved in thepast by employing scientific reasoning in one and persuasivereasoning in the other.
Problem1- Lost sock
Oneof the most frustrating things that I have had to deal with for along time is the issue of a missing sock. Given that socks come inpairs and there are different types of socks suited for differentoccasions and for different types of shoes, I own several pairs indifferent colors. However, this has not prevented me from havingtrouble in having a clean pair socks most of the time. I haveaccumulated odd socks as individual socks keep disappearing one at atime. With one sock lost, either misplaced or stashed away by mysister’s pet dog, it means that I have a huge pile of odd pairs ofsocks that I cannot use. I end up buying pairs of socks moreregularly than any other form of clothing because of the regulardisappearance as well as the normal wear and tear. While cost mighthave been an issue, it was also frustrating to have piles ofmismatching socks with their partners unaccounted for. Thus myproblem related whether or not to buy new pairs of sock as anadditional cost and also risk losing one of them again or whether towear unmatched socks.
Toaddress the problem through scientific thinking, I had to examinescientific facts rather than how I personally felt about the problem.At the same time, I had to rely on my observations about lost socksover the past few years. This is a very important step in any problemsolving attempt as understating the problem well will contributestowards an effective solution. Another issue is the need to comparealternative solutions to the problem and settle on the one thatoptimizes outcomes.
Probability of a sock getting lost is independent on its color or design
Probability of a sock getting lost increases with an increase in variation of color and design
Probability of an odd sock decreases with a decrease in variation in color and design of socks.
Therefore,to address the issue of off socks, the best solution is to buynumerous pairs of socks in a similar color or design. Therefore, Ibought ten pairs of socks in one color and another ten pairs of adifferent color and design. For this solution to work out well,selection of the pair of socks to wear or wash should be unbiased andthere is an assumption that there is perfect mixing of socks toprevent wear and tear and any bias. However, for other people who mayexperience the same problem, one might consider buying many pairs ofsocks of same color and design to eliminate the odd sock problem.
Homelessnessis painful in any modern society. I have encountered numeroushomeless people on the streets begging for change and other seekingjobs. What is unknown to many is that some these people had careersand stable life. What they maybe in need of just an opportunity. Forthe past year or so, one homeless man in neighborhood made me thinkmore about this issue. I thus figured out that the occasional one ortwo dollars I handed the homeless man named Stuart was not enough andmight indeed by exacerbating the problem. I thus figured that toaddress the issue, albeit on a very small scale, I had to help Stuartand convince and persuade other people to accommodate Stuart insociety as a human being and offer him a second opportunity in life.
Ichose to use a persuasive thinking approach to convince myself andothers that Stuart was a human like any other and deserved a secondchance. I began by defriending Stuart besides offering him smallchange. I wanted to convince myself that Stuart was not hopeless or abad person. With regular small talk, I came to learn that Stuart hadserved seven years in prison for domestic violence and aggravatedassault on his wife. He acknowledged that in the past, he was analcoholic and used drugs regularly. He blamed substance abuse for hisdestroyed life and career as a chef in one of the big city hotels.Being a generally a huge guy, many people thought he was dangerousand this hampered any efforts to start anew in life. Havingunderstood him and his perspective in life, I thought of convincingmy aunt who operated a diner to offer him a job. I failed in my firstattempt but I did not give up. I talked to my dad to talk to a fellowcop to talk to talk to Stuart about his recovery and even ensure thathe was free from drugs. This approach that incorporated the localpolice would also ensure that my aunt was safe and the largercommunity felt safe in his presence. Thus, I needed to convinceStuart also to take up the chance and clean up. The persuasion reliedon a given approach.
Walker(2014)says personal branding of confidence in delivery and crediblereferences can go a long way in aiding a person in selling an ideathrough ethos. Therefore, I embarked on Stuart branding himself as aperson seeing new opportunities in life as opposed to a homelessbeggar. I helped him in updating his resume as a chef and also inopening up about his past and his regret and remorse. With me, myparents and police backing up his claims as a drugs-free man, it waseasier to sell him as a brand to my aunt and others.
Byapplying the pathos technique, I used past stories about people beinggiven second chances in life. I borrowed these stories from basicsearches on the internet. I also borrowed from the Bible especiallyfrom the stories of the prodigal son, Zaccheus, Saul, and Joseph. Iknew that my aunt who is staunch Catholic would relate with suchstories.
Inthe end, Stuart agreed to rebrand himself. Instead of displayingplacards asking for change, he created a placard displaying hisskills and his need for a job. With such a brand, other individualsjoined the band in recommending Stuart for a position in the hotel.Again, I talked to my aunt about the need for her being part of asuccess story in the recovery of Stuart. In the end, my aunt agreedto offer him a job and a place to stay. One customer of the dinereven offered to pay for Stuart’s anger management classes. Hisculinary skills at the diner were quickly appreciated and sales grewrapidly. Within three months, Stuart had rented a house of his ownand was widely accepted as a good citizen.
Thetwo cases above present two problems that I have encountered in lifeand I have addressed through critical thinking. Critical thinkingskills require one to question assumptions and look at problems frommultiple points of views or perspectives (Baldoni 2010). From thefirst case of lost socks, there is evidence of clear thinking toprovide a solution. For one, the solution acknowledges that there aremultiple ways that socks get lost. Again, the assumption that socksare just socks is factored in given that there the consideration thatsocks are made using different designs and thus may offerdifferentiated utility to the wearer. In the second case, I made alot of assessments. I considered the fact there was the likelihoodthat he was still dangerous and substance user. To address theassumption that Stuart was clean and reformed, I convinced him tosubject himself to monitoring by the local police. At the same, Imade full disclosure by telling my aunt who Stuart was and hishistory as a convicted felon. Together with my aunt, we also examinedhow Stuart’s presence at the diner would be perceived by customers.This approach to the problem of helping someone needy and cannot betrusted by society shows that exceptional problems require innovativeideas since established procedures may not provide the rightsolutions (Smith 2003).
Thetwo cases above thus show the persuasive and scientific thinkingapproaches in critical thinking to address everyday problems. Whatcomes out clearly is that critical thinking cannot be applied in acertain way but it requires one to train the brain to use multipleperspectives to address problems in an innovative manner.
Baldoni,J. (2010). How leaders should think critically. HarvardBusiness Review.Retrieved
Smith,G. (2003). Beyond critical thinking and decision making: teachingbusiness students how
tothink. Journalof management education27(1): 24-51.
Walker,R. (2014). Strategic Management Communication for Leaders. New York:Cengage