What about through reading books on critical thinking? There are several great books on the topic (especially ones for business professionals), and here are our favorites:
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Now You’re Thinking! is a great introduction to critical thinking told through a real life example of great decision making and problem solving. This book not only tells the story of Amenah, a two-year old dying of a congenital heart defect in Iraq and how a Marine battalion worked to save her life, but it also includes an overview of the RED Model of Critical Thinking. This model and the Five Steps to New Thinking are a great guide to keep your critical thinking on track. Lastly, this book also offers free access to take the My Thinking Styles assessment so you can learn how your unique thinking style impacts the way you seek out and evaluate information.
Rethink: A Manifesto for Cutting Costs and Boosting Innovation. It’s a totally human condition, a trap that ensnares virtually everyone. Just as when we tie a route to a destination so much so that when someone else takes a different route “why are we going this way?” it usually doesn’t matter “how” you get there. This “how” trap also takes place at work, people intertwine “how” they do their job with the outcome of “what” they are doing that sometimes obvious decisions are masked, and missed. We know how to focus on process: the how of business. That’s why this book shows that we’re leaving so much value on the table and that’s what this book exposes with vivid examples, while at the same time offering guidance on ways you can take advantage of this new business lens. Business architect Ric Merrifield shows how to rise above the clutter of your “hows” to expose what does and doesn’t need attention. You’ll learn to identify the activities most critical to success and those that that are borderline, redundant, or even counterproductive. Along the way, Merrifield presents powerful case studies from companies as diverse as ING DIRECT and Eclipse, Amazon.com and Procter & Gamble firms that have learned how to cut costs, strengthen innovation, and profit from change all at the same time.
Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life. Critical Thinking is about becoming a better thinker in every aspect of your life: in your career, and as a consumer, citizen, friend, parent, and lover. Discover the core skills of effective thinking; then analyze your own thought processes, identify weaknesses, and overcome them. Learn how to translate more effective thinking into better decisions, less frustration, more wealth and above all, greater confidence to pursue and achieve your most important goals in life.
Brains: How they Seem to Work. For 50 years, the world’s most brilliant neuroscientists have struggled to understand how human brains really work. Today, says Dale Purves, the dominant research agenda may have taken us as far as it can–and neuroscientists may be approaching a paradigm shift.
In this highly personal book, Purves reveals how we got to this point and offers his notion of where neuroscience may be headed next. Purves guides you through a half-century of the most influential ideas in neuroscience and introduces the extraordinary scientists and physicians who created and tested them.
Purves offers a critical assessment of the paths that neuroscience research has taken, their successes and their limitations, and then introduces an alternative approach for thinking about brains. Building on new research on visual perception, he shows why common ideas about brain networks can’t be right and uncovers the factors that determine our subjective experience. The resulting insights offer a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.
Keeping Conflict Constructive: And Unleashing the Power of Divergent Thinking. This Element is an excerpt from Why Great Leaders Don’t Take Yes for an Answer: Managing for Conflict and Consensus (ISBN: 9780137000630) by Michael A. Roberto. Available in print and digital formats.
Promoting constructive dialogue–and keeping it from degenerating into destructive, dysfunctional argument.
In many organizations, debates become dysfunctional before the leader recognizes the warning signs. Diagnosing these situations as they unfold represents a critical leadership capability. How does a leader discern whether a passionate debate among his advisers and subordinates stands on the verge of becoming dysfunctional?
The Truth About Making Smart Decisions. Everything you need to know to make smarter, better decisions in business and in life!
- The truth about learning from your mistakes and those of others
- The truth about how sleep can help you make better decisions
- The truth about the power of acting decisively
This book brings together 50 powerful “truths” about making better decisions: real solutions for the tough challenges faced by every decision-maker, in business and in life. You’ll discover how to systematically prepare to make better decisions…how to get the right information, without getting buried in useless data…how to minimize your risks, and then act decisively…how to handle your emotions…make better group decisions…profit from mistakes…and a whole lot more. This isn’t “someone’s opinion”: it’s a definitive, evidence-based guide to effective decision-making…a set of bedrock principles you can rely on no matter what kind of decisions you make!
Encourage Unconventional Thinking. This Element is an excerpt from Do the Right Thing: How Dedicated Employees Create Loyal Customers and Large Profits (9780132343343) by James F. Parker. Available in print and digital formats.
Your employees’ wild ideas: they’re one of your greatest resources for business transformation!
Not everything has already been invented. Not every great idea has already occurred. Not every valuable innovation has already been implemented. Nobody knows everything there is to know. The world advances through change and new ideas. Will R&D tell us when to change and how? Perhaps, but it’s likely our employees and customers will tell us first–if we just listen….
What Disruptive Thinking Is, and Why You Should be Doing It. This Element is an excerpt from Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business (9780137025145) by Luke Williams. Available in print and digital formats.
Why incremental change is a recipe for disaster and what your business must do instead.
Successful companies often embrace incremental change because it supports their current business model. Big mistake. When a business makes only incremental changes, they’re on a path that gets narrower and narrower. Eventually, they reach the end–and by then, their customers have forsaken them for a new offering that nobody saw coming.
The Power of Impossible Thinking: Transform the Business of Your Life and the Life of Your Business. The Power of Impossible Thinking is about getting better at making sense of what’s going on around you so you can make decisions that respond to reality,not inaccurate or obsolete models of the world. This bestseller reveals how mental models stand between you and the truth and how to transform them into your biggest advantage! Learn how to develop new ways of seeing, when to change to a new model, how to swap amongst a portfolio of models, how to understand complex environments and how to do “mind R and D,” improving models through constant experimentation, Jerry Wind and Colin Crook review why it’s so hard to change mental models and offer practical strategies for dismantling “hardened missile silos”. Finally they show how to access models quickly through intuition, and assess the effectiveness of any mental model. Purchasers of this book gain access to audio summaries on a companion web site, along with a new half-hour interview with the authors.
25 Days to Better Thinking and Better Living. You are what you think! Take control of your thinking…and start living life to the fullest! In just 25 days, you can discover how to cut through lies, gain insight, and make smarter choices in every area of your life from work and money to your intimate relationships. Discover how to overcome bad thinking habits caused by self-delusion or out-of-control emotions…clarify what you really want…recognize what you don’t know. Ask the right questions…resist brainwashing, manipulation, and hypocrisy…Avoid worrying, conformism, and blame!
- 25 powerful ways to improve your thinking and make smarter, better decisions.
- Stop deceiving yourself: Overcome built-in self-delusion, wishful thinking, and worrying.
- Use better thinking to make better decisions at work, at home, and throughout your life.
- Critically evaluate what you’re told by advertisers, politicians, your boss…even your family!
- Quick, practical, easy to use! Includes daily/weekly action plans, progress notes, and more.
FutureThink. In The Untrapped Mind, two leading futurists reveal the breakthrough thinking techniques they’ve developed to liberate the mind from its old assumptions, and sensitize it to the earliest signals of change. Edie Weiner and Arnold Brown show how to overcome both personal and institutional biases, to see the big picture. Learn how to recognize when trends aren’t linear, and when tomorrow won’t be ‘just like today’. The authors show how a football game can help clarify priorities in attracting and retaining customers; how the history of railroads can put the Internet into perspective; how the ‘Law of LargeNumbers’ helps one recognize the drivers behind such powerful forces as deviancy and terrorism; and much more.
Your Brain and Business: The Neusoscience of Great Leaders. Harvard psychiatrist and executive coach Srinivasan S. Pillay illuminates the rapidly-emerging links between modern brain science and the corner office. What does neuroscience have to do with leadership? Everything. Recent advances in brain science and neuroimaging can dramatically improve the way leaders work with colleagues to drive successful change. As the brain is increasingly examined in the context of personal and organizational development, remarkable insights are being uncovered: insights that are leading to powerful new strategies for improving business execution. Pillay reveals six powerful ways that brain science can be used by today’s executives, and presents powerful new interventions for coaches who want to help their clients overcome common leadership problems. Discover how to use positive, “strengths-based” approaches to encourage the brain to learn, how the fascinating neuroscience of social intelligence can help leaders encourage more effective relationships, how to promote innovation and intuition, and overcome intangible vulnerabilities in leaders’ brains, how to transform the “idea” of change into crisp, timely execution, and much more. Leaders and coaches worldwide are already applying this knowledge to dramatically improve personal performance. Now, with Pillay’s help, everyone can.
Becoming a Critical Thinker: A User Friendly Manual. Becoming a Critical Thinker: A User Friendly Manual, trains students to become critical thinkers and thoughtful decision makers. It helps students to distinguish high-quality, well supported arguments from those with little or no evidence to support them. It also develops the skills students will need to effectively evaluate the many claims facing them as citizens, learners, consumers, and human beings, and also to be effective advocates for their beliefs.
The Art of Questioning: An Introduction to Critical Thinking. This text offers students the clearest explanations and the most examples of any critical thinking text on the market. Begins with issues concerning words, examines techniques for evaluating explanations and arguments, and concludes by applying all the skills to reading essays and writing argumentative essays.
Critical Thinking: An Introduction. This second edition has been extensively revised with updated examples and a brand new chapter on how to obtain reliable information from the internet. Studying critical thinking involves trying to change the ways in which most of us think. In this second edition of the popular ‘Critical Thinking: An Introduction’, Alec Fisher concentrates on developing critical thinking skills explicitly and directly. His aim is to teach the ability to interpret, analyse and evaluate ideas and arguments and to show how these skills can be transferred to other studies and everyday life. A new chapter covers getting reliable information from the internet and examples and passages have been replaced by completely new material. The book is also suitable for the independent learner.
What other books should we add to this list?
Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens. She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training. She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts.