Critical thinking and review
We can blame Socrates for the insight that one cannot depend upon those in ‘authority’ to have sound knowledge and understanding. A proponent of the evidence, objective analysis and reasoned judgment, he established the importance of asking deep questions that probe profoundly before we accept ideas as worthy of belief.
Its good in theory but left to itself, our thinking tends to the biased, distorted, uninformed, and often prejudiced. Yet, the quality of our life depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated.
Organisational biases, history and group think compound the problem. The people who created a problem are going to defend their choices, bureaucracies compete internally for resources, winning on the power of the presentation rather than the value of the argument.
Whether it be a new initiative or a review of one underway, traditional processes see a position paper developed and staffed for comment. It is then argued and challenged from differing positions until it either fails or a consensus is found. A drive to mediocrity through conflict.
There are alternative approaches that deliver better outcomes faster, without the angst. It is based on evidence and data, sufficient to form a sound hypothesis.
The hypothesis is tested with both reasons and rebuttals embraced, not debated, supported by evidence and opinion – one typically having more influence than the other. But not always – choice and judgment is the responsibility of leadership. It requires courage to make such choices in the face of uncertainty, better done supported by rational and defensible analysis.
Our approach makes it safer to be courageous.