Today's business environment provides an avalanche of information clamoring for action and attention. It is vital that Leaders quickly navigate through the hype, spin, and manipulation to separate relevant from the irrelevant, important from trivial, myths from reality, and truth from lies. Failure to do so will result in illogical decisions based on invalid information and a waste of valuable resources. You can afford neither inaction nor knee-jerk action. Critical thinking principles and procedures will help to prevent these dysfunctions and lead to solid strategic decision-making.
This one-day program will take your company's past strategic decisions and analyze the variables that led to action—whether that led to good things or bad things is up to you. We will determine criteria for making informed decisions based on data analysis, statistics, and a firm understanding of financial principles. As a performance test for the workshop, we will look ahead to upcoming business decisions, and apply the same criteria.
As preparation we work with one of your financial executives to identify an impactful strategic event in your company's past. We break this historic event into phases—key milestones or times when the executives had to make important decisions related to the event. In Phase I, we prepare a set of financial data and a packet with information containing market, industry, company demographic, etc. content that was available to the executives at the time. We also prepare packets for each subsequent phase.
During the training day, participants get their packets (just for Phase I) and are asked to figure out what should be done. They are to take the perspective of the executive team back in the old days and prepare a presentation to the “Board” detailing their vision and direction for the organization based on the information at hand. Each team then gets up in the front of the room and presents their plan. A panel of your company's executives and the facilitator listen, challenge, attack, question, and re-direct—just as they would any presentation made to them. They use the same criteria of judgment they would in real life. Participants then return to the drawing board, adjusting their plans and how they think through the problem more like an executive might (at least a good executive). For Phase II, they are given a new packet, taking them further along the real historical trail. Using critical thinking job aids, their information packets, and the panel they prepare another set of presentations—again practicing strategic decision-making and the stone cold reality of presenting those decisions to executives. In essence, participants are learning to think like an executive.
Finally, we take a completely different topic—preferably a strategic decision yet to be finalized in the company and have participants work through the same process. Participants actually think through and present actionable ideas to executives about an important decision for the future of the organization.
- Define critical thinking and identify key behaviors of critical thinkers within the context of your company.
- Collect relevant, valid, and reliable data from different sources related to exploring an issue or evaluating a decision.
- Practice presenting coherent arguments to executives and receive real feedback from them.
- Survive a barrage of rapid-fire questions and arguments from executives about your presentation of the issues.
- Present convincing arguments that reject or support a conclusion or recommendation.
- Distinguish between good data and noise.
- Identify and remove unwarranted assumptions that hamper performance and productivity.
- Make appropriate generalizations from findings.
- Use inductive logic to move from particular facts to general statements.
- Recognize and correct logical fallacies in proposals, recommendations, and arguments.
- Systematically analyze a work-related problem, come up with a suitable solution, evaluate the solution, and develop an improved solution.