Sticky Notes: How to Teach Critical Thinking Skills

Here are 3 key components to focus on.

More and more employers are seeking resources to teach employees critical thinking skills. Our competency model breaks the process into three key components:

1. Proactive learning: This means practicing the habits of keeping an open mind, suspending judgment, questioning assumptions, and seeking out information, technique, and perspective; and studying, practicing, and contemplating in order to build your stored knowledge base, skill set, and wisdom. To “build strong thinking muscles,” one must exercise them. That means studying information to build knowledge; practicing technique to build skill; and contemplating multiple competing perspectives to build wisdom

2. Problem-solving: Mastering established best practices—proven repeatable solutions for dealing with regular recurring problems— helps avoid reinventing the wheel. This includes using repeatable solutions to improvise when addressing problems that are new but similar. By preparing in advance for regularly recurring problems, you also learn to better anticipate and prevent/avoid those problems and become more familiar with what good problem-solving looks like.

3. Decision-making: Identifying and considering multiple options, assessing the pros and cons of each, and choosing the course of action closest to the desired outcome—it’s all about understanding the connection between cause and effect, so you can learn to predict the future. That means being aggressive about learning from your own experiences. Always trace outcomes backward to the decisions and actions that caused them. Going forward, it’s all about thinking ahead: projecting the likely outcomes and consequences of one set of potential decisions and actions versus another.

Bruce Tulgan is the founder of RainmakerThinking | | Twitter @brucetulgan |

Bruce Tulgan
Bruce Tulgan is a best-selling author and CEO of RainmakerThinking, the management research, consulting, and training firm he founded in 1993. All of his work is based on 27 years of intensive workplace interviews and has been featured in thousands of news stories around the world. His newest book, “The Art of Being Indispensable at Work: Win Influence, Beat Overcommitment, and Get the Right Things Done” ( Harvard Business Review Press) is available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all major booksellers. Follow Tulgan on Twitter @BruceTulgan or visit his Website at: