Lessons from the U.S. Army War College:
God created in us the ability to think, reason, and decide (free will). As we grow from infant to adolescent that ability both matures but never reaches our full potential. Our reasoning naturally narrows as our point of view is informed by our culture, religion, and parents to name just a few. Maturity brings complex problems which requires reasoning outside of our point of view. However, few recognize their point of view has been narrowed by their personal biases and in informed assumptions. To move beyond narrow thinking one must deliberately Learn and practice critical thinking.
First of all, not all problems require critical thinking. In fact most decisions are automatic (should I wear my seat belt) or are a choice between few choices. However, when problems are complex, have huge implications, or you realize strong personal views might lead to a poor decision then critical thinking should be used.
We need to first define the problem. If I had one hour to save the world, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute finding solutions. Dr. Albert Einstein
Critical thinking is a deliberately informed reasoning process. Between realizing an issue requires crititcal thinking and the decision to act is a process of elements(not steps). Elements for consideration clarify the concern, evaluate information, and Determine implications. Each element is informed by the other and assessed by deliberately looking outside personal or organizational points of view, assumptions, inferences and biases. Leaders should be aware of egocentric tendencies in which one regards their own opinions superior to all others
Richard Paul and Linda Elder, Critical Thinking, Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001)