Why Critical Thinking Drives Managers Nuts

Critical thinking is a type of reasonable, reflective thought process that is aimed at deciding what to believe or what to do. It’s a way to effectively analyze a process objectively, which is a skill all managers and employees need.  You can evaluate and analyze new and old ideas and concepts by looking at the tangible and intangible aspects and implications.

In a world where we are increasingly becoming more team- and project-oriented, being able to evaluate a program or idea is critical to the project as well as to your organization’s success.  Critical thinking helps us to avoid groupthink and idea stagnation that keeps us from taking our company product or service to another level.  This critical thinking is key, especially when it comes to the knowledge worker whose main job is to think, design, develop, and innovate for a living.

Hiring the right team

Also referred to as the knowledge class, companies are scrambling to effectively hire, retain, and develop the knowledge worker.  The late Peter Drucker, a management expert who invented the concept of management by objective, was quoted as saying, “Making knowledge workers productive is the biggest of the 21st century management challenges.”

And later, he said that improving knowledge worker productivity is the first survival requirement of development nations. “I think that managing, developing, engaging, and motivating your knowledge workers and key employees is not only essential for the future of developed nations, but is the key to the successful future of a developed organization.”

For some managers, this proves to be a challenge because managing and developing their employees and what motivates employees have drastically changed. Employees who are challenged to think critically don’t operate under the traditional manager hierarchy.  They ask questions.  They offer suggestions and challenge the status quo.

It’s important that a creative work environment fosters empowerment, thinking, individual reasoning, and intrapreneuership.  It’s a skill coveted and fostered by Silicon Valley giants like Yahoo, Google, and now even LinkedIn.  Last week, LinkedIn launched their [in]cubator.  A cute play on words, the program is intended to create a disruptive trajectory built on challenging established models and ways of doing things.

Intrapreunuership models like LinkedIn’s are the key to establishing an environment where crucial thinkers and knowledge workers are free to challenge, innovate, and thrive.  They create a safe environment, protected from the traditional company model where employees work for performance and meet the status quo within the confines of the organization.  In the traditional workplace model, employees are not rewarded for breaking rules and taking chances, but for walking the what’s-always-been-done line.

Fostering the right environment

Can critical thinking exist outside of an intraprenuership model in your organization?  What are some ways you can foster innovation and new fresh thinking at your workplace?

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Eric Friedman

Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of Web-based skills testing for pre-employment and training. Since 2003, eSkill.com has tested millions of job candidates for organizations worldwide such as Zappos, ADP, Coca-Cola, Randstad, and GE. With academic degrees in Psychology and Business and experience with both mature and expansion-stage company growth, Eric has focused on how to hire and motivate team members to be the best they can be for their companies.


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