As Seth Godin wrote today, we never have all of the facts.
And the facts, principles, “rules,” and strategies that we do have, aren’t always that good.
Case in point: an article published today on Inc.com.
Therefore, in order to separate quality from crap and make better decisions at work, we need to become critical consumers of facts.
Sadly, higher education isn’t doing a great job of teaching critical thinking, making it one of the key strategic foci for the Associate of American Colleges and Universities. And many professional “training” organizations omit critical thinking from their leadership curricula.
Bottom line: if your employees aren’t getting trained in critical thinking, where are they getting these skills?
Step 1: Understand what’s being said?
Knowledge acquisition is the first step toward critically consuming “the facts.” Can you determine the main idea, argument, and/or point the source is trying to make?
Step 2: Relate to what you already know.
This step is all about comprehension. How do the facts relate to what you already know, have seen or read? What evidence is the message sender using to support her/his case? Are these sources credible? What’s missing?
Step 3: Apply the facts to your business context.
Application of the facts is a critical step. How would the principles, rules, strategies that someone is trying to sell you walk in your organization? How is your unique context different from others they’ve referenced?
Step 4: Analyze.
Analysis focuses on both the form and content of the message. Break the facts down into their component parts: How are the facts related? Have they been presented in a fair and objective manner? Overall, is there sufficient evidence to support the conclusions that the speaker or author is making?
Step 5: Synthesize.
Pull it all together. Given the facts and conclusions drawn from the facts, can you create something new. Something useful. Can you formulate a course of action using the facts?
Step 6: Evaluation
Given the facts, analysis and synthesis, will you take a particular course of action? This step is about assessing your acceptance or rejection of the facts. It’s okay to reject facts, false claims, and shams, and schemes, after all “that’s how they get ya.”
These six steps will enable you and your team to become more critical thinkers about “the facts” that impact your business, and more credible messengers in sharing facts with others. Happy Friday!