Relationship Between Critical Thinking and Decision Making Essay
Relationship Between Critical Thinking and Decision Making
In the corporate environment critical decisions must be made, sometimes quickly, whether because of changes in market conditions, corporate profits, or corporate performances. The decision-making process is vital to good management in today’s work environment. This paper will examine the relationship between critical thinking and the decision making process, explain what the textbook authors believe, and relate how both apply to today’s workplace.
Critical thinking involves the ability to weigh evidence, examine arguments, and construct rational bases for generally accepted beliefs. In order to establish a theoretical basis for studying critical thinking, a great quantity of research has been done. Critical thinking is not only the ability to reason and construct arguments, but also the ability to examine the reasoning processes involved and being able to evaluate their appropriateness and effectiveness. This “judgment” aspect is what makes critical thinking more than just problem solving. It is not sufficient to be able to apply problem-solving strategies to a particular problem; a true critical thinker must be able to choose appropriate strategies and even create new ones when necessary.
In dealing with most complex problems in today’s work environment, there may be more than one good answer to a problem. The question then becomes one of picking the best answer; this is called decision-making. Weighing the consequences of these possible solutions based on our understanding of their potential outcomes is the job of the manager. A good manager does not distinguish between “critical thinking” and “decision-making” when working. He uses both to arrive at a solution. It is only when analyzing how to come to a specific decision that he must employ critical thinking skills so that he does not allow personal prejudices, emotions, or stress to affect his thinking processes.
According to the authors of Whatever It Takes – The Realities of Managerial Decision Making, the six steps to critical thinking and decision making are: “1) a problem is defined and isolated, 2) information is gathered, 3) alternatives are set forth, 4) an end is established, 5) means are created to achieve the end, and 6) a choice is made.” The authors say when applied in today’s business environment, the six steps are mostly ineffective because “executive decision-making is not a series of single linier acts.” It is the interference of many other factors (such as murky information, poor information input, and multiple problems intersecting) that makes scientific study of real-life decision-making difficult. (McCall & Kaplan, 1990, pg xvii – xviii) Therefore, the authors suggest case study and specific dissection of past decisions is the best way to learn how to make future decisions.
In my field of work (currently training of teaching personnel), decisions must be made as to time management, importance of curriculum vs. methodology, and allocation of skill acquisition importance. In addition, two corporations are my superiors; each with different hierarchies as to who tells me which jobs should be done. My decisions, therefore, must not only be politically correct, but must be ones that make the most people happy. When three different departments from three different divisions ask me to begin a project, someone has to be told to wait. It is at times like these that critical thinking becomes important to justify my decisions when responding to their requests. Critical thinking is used both to justify my decisions and to clarify my thinking.
McCall, M. W., & Kaplan, R. E. (1990). Whatever It Takes – The Realities of Managerial Decision Making (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.