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Report on Critical Thinking

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					                                AGENDA



          1. What is                 2. What is CT?                3. Why
          Thinking?                                                Critical
                                                                  Thinking?



11. Critical thinking in                                        4. Characteristics of
       business                                                    critical thinking



                                                             5. Critical Thinking
        10. Critical vs                                            process
     Non critical thinking

                                                              6. Benefits of
                                                             Critical Thinking
        9. Barriers to
       Critical Thinking

                                                      7. Components of CT
                           8. Our concept of
                                  CT
                    Critical Thinking
   "5% think, 10% think they think, 85% would rather die than
                      think." — Anonymous


                                ―the trouble with the world is that
                                  the stupid are cocksure and the
                            intelligent
                               full of doubt‖ - Bertrand Russell

                            ―. . . Intelligence . . . is in plentiful
                                  supply. . . the scarce
                           commodity is systematic training
                                 in critical thinking.‖ --Carl Sagan

                       ―The true critical thinker accepts what few
                people ever accept -- that one cannot routinely
               trust perceptions and memories.‖ –James Alcock

                  ―Truth gains more . . . by the errors of one who,
               with due study and preparation, thinks for himself
than by the true opinions of those who only hold them because
      they do not suffer themselves to think.‖ --John Stuart Mill_

WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING?
                     WHAT IS THINKING?

Mental activity that helps to formulate or solve a problem, to
make a decision or to seek understanding involves critical and
creative aspects of the mind, both the use of reason and the
generation of ideas.
                                                     (Fisher, 1990)
             INTRODUCTION TO CRITICAL THINKING

Consider several Quotations:

Critical thinkers: distinguish between fact and opinion; ask
questions; make detailed observations; uncover assumptions
and define their terms; and make assertions based on sound
logic and solid evidence.

                        Ellis, D. Becoming a Master Student, 1997
Critical thinking is best understood as the ability of thinkers to
take charge of their own thinking. This requires that they
develop sound criteria and standards for analyzing and
assessing their own thinking and routinely use those criteria and
standards to improve its quality.

  Elder, L. and Paul, R. "Critical thinking: why we must transform
  our teaching." Journal of Developmental Education, Fall 1994.



                 DEFINING CRITICAL THINKING


   In general terms, we can say that to think critically is to
    think clearly, accurately, knowledgeably, and fairly while
    evaluating the reasons for a belief or for taking some
    action.

   Critical thinking means correct thinking in the pursuit of
    relevant and reliable knowledge about the world


   Critical thinking is reasonable, reflective, responsible, and
    skillful thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe
    or do.
   Critical thinking can be described as the scientific
    method applied by ordinary people to the ordinary world.
    This is true because critical thinking mimics the well-known
    method of scientific investigation: a question is identified,
    an hypothesis formulated, relevant data sought and
    gathered, the hypothesis is logically tested and
    evaluated, and reliable conclusions are drawn from the
    result. All of the skills of scientific investigation are
    matched by critical thinking, which is therefore nothing
    more than scientific method used in everyday life rather
    than in specifically scientific disciplines or endeavors.
    Critical thinking is scientific thinking.


   Critical thinking consists of mental processes of
    discernment, analysis and evaluation. It includes possible
    processes of reflecting upon a tangible or intangible item
    in order to form a solid judgment that reconciles scientific
    evidence with common sense.


         Critical thinking is...
   Using logic, reason and the scientific method over
    abstract theories and emotional judgments.
   Awareness of heuristics (shortcuts) and biases (errors) that
    influence human thinking.
   Using these abilities systematically on everything in your
    life. From that, using the results to make improvements.


                        IDEAS & CONCEPTS



A Brief Conceptualization of Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which
attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-
minded way. People who think critically consistently attempt to
live rationally, reasonably, empathically.

They strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and
sociocentric tendencies. They use the intellectual tools that
critical thinking offers – concepts and principles that enable
them to analyze, assess, and improve thinking.

They realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they
can always improve their reasoning abilities and they will at
times fall prey to mistakes in reasoning, human irrationality,
prejudices, biases, distortions, uncritically accepted social rules
and taboos, self-interest, and vested interest. They strive to
improve the world in whatever ways they can and contribute
to a more rational, civilized society.

They embody the Socratic principle: The unexamined life is not
worth living, because they realize that many unexamined lives
together result in an uncritical, unjust, dangerous world.


The Critical thinking includes a complex combination of skills.
Among the main characteristics are the following:

Rationality

We are thinking critically when we

     rely on reason rather than emotion,
     require evidence, ignore no known evidence, and follow
      evidence where it leads, and
     are concerned more with finding the best explanation
      than being right analyzing apparent confusion and asking
      questions.

Self-awareness

We are thinking critically when we
     weigh the influences of motives and bias, and
     recognize our own assumptions, prejudices, biases, or
      point of view.

Honesty

We are thinking critically when we recognize emotional
impulses, selfish motives, nefarious purposes, or other modes of
self-deception.

Open-mindedness

We are thinking critically when we

     evaluate all reasonable inferences
     consider a variety of possible viewpoints or perspectives,
     remain open to alternative interpretations
     accept a new explanation, model, or paradigm because
      it explains the evidence better, is simpler, or has fewer
      inconsistencies or covers more data
     accept new priorities in response to a reevaluation of the
      evidence or reassessment of our real interests, and
     do not reject unpopular views out of hand.

Discipline

We are thinking critically when we

     are precise, meticulous, comprehensive, and exhaustive
     resist manipulation and irrational appeals, and
     Avoid snap judgments.

Judgment

We are thinking critically when we

     recognize the relevance and/or merit of alternative
      assumptions and perspectives
     recognize the extent and weight of evidence
In sum,

     Critical thinkers are by nature skeptical. They approach
      texts with the same skepticism and suspicion as they
      approach spoken remarks.
     Critical thinker’s reactive, not passive. They ask questions
      and analyze. They consciously apply tactics and
      strategies to uncover meaning or assure their
      understanding.
     Critical thinkers do not take an egotistical view of the
      world. They are open to new ideas and perspectives.
      They are willing to challenge their beliefs and investigate
      competing evidence.

Critical thinking enables us to recognize a wide range of
subjective analyses of otherwise objective data, and to
evaluate how well each analysis might meet our needs. Facts
may be facts, but how we interpret them may vary.

             CHARACTERISTICS OF CRITICAL THINKING

Critical thinking is an effort to develop reliable, rational
evaluations about what is reasonable for us to believe and
disbelieve. Critical thinking makes use of the tools of logic and
science because it values skepticism over gullibility or
dogmatism, reason over faith, science of pseudoscience, and
rationality over wishful thinking. Critical thinking does not
guarantee that we will arrive at truth, but it does make it much
more likely than any of the alternatives do.

Open-mindedness & skepticism

A critical thinker is neither dogmatic nor gullible. The most
distinctive features of the critical thinker’s attitude are open-
mindedness and skepticism. A person who wishes to think
critically about something like politics or religion must be open-
minded. This requires being open to the possibility that not only
are others right, but also that you are wrong. Too often people
launch into a frenzy of arguments apparently without taking
any time to consider that they may be mistaken in something.

Doubt things. Don’t accept things at face value and think them
through. The worst error you can commit is to delegate all your
thinking to another person. By creating a layer of doubt on
everything, even your ideas, you can improve them.


Sense perception

Having the right attitude and knowing the standards of
evaluation are not enough to guarantee that one will always
succeed at critical thinking. Human beings are subject to a
number of limitations and hindrances that forever get in the
way of our best intentions.
Aristotle advised that we should not demand more certainty
than the subject allows (Nichomachean Ethics, I, iii.). That was
good advice 2,500 years
ago and it’s good advice             “To doubt everything or to
today. Most of the subjects          believe everything are two
that concern us in our daily         equally convenient solutions;
lives are incapable of               both dispense with the necessity
absolute certainty. The most         of reflection.” --Jules Henri
we can hope for is a                 Poincaré
reasonable certainty that
we’ve arrived at the best
possible beliefs. Infallibility and absolute certainty are beyond
our reach. Think, for example, about the source of most of our
beliefs: sense perception. Each of the senses is limited in extent:
Each sense has a threshold beyond which we cannot perceive.
We can extend those thresholds by using instruments such as
telescopes and microscopes. But those instruments have
thresholds, too. Our instruments enhance our knowledge but
they, too, are limited.
Furthermore, each perception must also be interpreted. With
each interpretation there is the possibility of error. Each of us
has been mistaken about something we thought we saw or
heard. Although we often treat facts as if they were infallibly
certain, they aren’t. Facts are those things we don’t have any
doubts about. We call something a fact if we consider it grossly
unreasonable to deny it. But, since our grasp of facts is based
on sense perception, we should not claim to know any facts
with infallible certainty.


Beliefs

Some beliefs can hinder critical thinking. If you believe you will
fail at trying to solve a problem, you probably won’t try. If you
don’t try, you won’t avail yourself of the opportunity to learn
and develop your talents, including your critical thinking talents.
Surprisingly, much research has found that believing that
intelligence is something you are born with, and is fixed for life
by your genes, hinders people in several ways that might affect
their ability to think critically. ―One of the dumbest things
people do with the fixed view of intelligence is to sacrifice
important learning opportunities when those opportunities
contain a risk of revealing ignorance or making errors‖ (Dweck
2002: 29).

Differentiate Emotion and Reason

Even if we have clear logical and empirical reasons for
accepting an idea, we also probably have emotional and
psychological reasons for accepting it — reasons which we
may not be fully aware of. It is important to critical thinking,
however, that we learn to separate the two because the latter
can easily interfere with the former.

Our emotional reasons for believing something might be quite
understandable, but if the logic behind the belief is wrong, then
ultimately we should not consider our belief rational. If we really
are going to approach our beliefs in a skeptical, fair manner,
then we must be willing to set aside our emotions and evaluate
the logic and reasoning on their own terms — possibly even
rejecting our beliefs if they fail to live up to logical criteria.

Argue from Knowledge, not Ignorance

Because we often have an emotional or other psychological
investment in our beliefs, it isn’t unusual for people to step
forward and try to defend those beliefs regardless of whether
the logic or evidence for them are weak. Indeed, sometimes
people will defend an idea even though they really don’t know
a great deal about it — they think they do, but they don’t.

A person who tries to practice critical thinking, however, also
tries to avoid assuming that they already know everything they
need to know. Such a person is willing to allow that someone
who disagrees can teach them something relevant and refrains
from arguing a position if they are ignorant of important,
relevant facts.



Probability is not Certainty

There are ideas that are probably true and ideas that are
certainly true, but while it is nice to have an idea that belongs
in the latter group, we must understand that the latter group is
far, far smaller than the former. However preferable it might be
otherwise, we can’t be absolutely certain about quite a lot of
matters — especially those matters that are the focus of many
debates.

When a person exercises skepticism and critical thinking, they
remember that just because they can show a conclusion is
probably true, that doesn’t mean they have shown or can
show that it is certainly true. Certain truths require firm
conviction, but probable truths require only tentative
conviction — that is to say, we should believe them with the
same strength as the evidence and reason allow.
 Avoid Common Fallacies

Most people can reason well enough to get by in their daily
lives and no more. If that is enough to survive, why invest the
extra time and work to improve? People who wish to have high
standards for their beliefs and reasoning, however, cannot
make do with the bare minimum just to get by in life — more
education and practice are needed.

To this end, good critical thinking requires that a person
become familiar with common logical fallacies which most
people commit at some time or other without ever realizing it.
Fallacies are errors in reasoning which creep into arguments
and debates all the time; the practice of critical thinking should
help a person avoid committing them and aid in identifying
their appearance in others’ arguments. An argument that
commits a fallacy cannot provide good reason to accept its
conclusion; therefore, as long as fallacies are being committed,
the arguments aren’t being very productive.

Don’t Jump to Conclusions


It’s easy and common for people to quickly go to the first and
most obvious conclusion in any sort of dilemma, but the fact of
the matter is the obvious conclusion isn’t always the correct
one. Unfortunately, once a person adopts a conclusion it can
be difficult to get them to give it up in favor of something else
— after all, no one wants to be wrong, do they?

Because it is better to avoid trouble than to try to get out of
trouble once in it, critical thinking emphasizes careful thinking
as well — and this means not jumping to conclusions if you can
avoid it. Go ahead and acknowledge the existence of an
obvious conclusion because it might be right after all, but don’t
actually adopt it until other options have been considered.

                  CRITICAL THINKING PROCESS
The critical thinking process includes four steps.


      Step 1     Identify the problem, the relevant information
                 and all uncertainties about the problem

      Step 2     Explore interpretations and connections. (gather
                 information-organizing information in meaningful
                 ways)

      Step 3     Prioritize alternatives and communicate
                 conclusions. (analysis of underlying problem)
                 Integrate, monitor, and refine strategies for re-
      Step 4     addressing the problem (an ongoing process for
                 generating and using new information)




                  BENEFITS OF CRITICAL THINKING


It has been said, "Learning to think critically is one of the most
important activities of adult life."

Among the benefits of careful thinking:

      Improved planning. Critical thinkers are more aware of
       uncertainty that hinges beneath plans. Thinking is the key
       component of strategy and tactics. If you can’t beat an
       opponent with luck, looks or lies, you need to be able to
       out think them. This applies particularly when your
       opponent isn’t another individual but the world.
      Less gullibility. You are less likely to fall for obvious
       deceptions and problems when you can think critically.
       This doesn’t need to twist you into a trust-deficient cynic,
       but it can help you remain cautious when others are
       greedy and smart when others are fearful.
     Creativity. Some would argue that creativity comes from
      intuition and randomness, not controlled thinking. But I
      would argue that critical thinkers can utilize their skills to
      see outside the imaginary lines they draw around a
      problem.
     Intellectual Freedom. One could argue that people use
      the word 'freedom' too liberally in American culture. But
      intellectual freedom is perhaps the greatest benefit of
      critical thinking. Instead of simply conforming to the status
      quo, you can actively question assumptions. Questioning
      assumptions (even your own) can lead to finding new
      solutions for a greater quality of life.

Other Benefits includes:

     More sophisticated analysis of information.
     More flexibility in thinking.
     Use of more logical inferences.
     More rational conclusions based on an examination of
      evidence.



              OUR CONCEPT OF CRITICAL THINKING

Critical thinking skills are vital to well-educated individuals and
acquiring this ability should be one of the most important goals
in one's life. A broad framework of intellectual rigor is called
critical thinking. Critical thinking skills enable people to
evaluate, compare, analyze, critique, and synthesize
information. Those who possess critical thinking skills know that
knowledge is not a collection of facts, but rather an ongoing
process of examining information, evaluating that information,
and adding it to their understanding of the world. Critical
thinkers also know to keep an open mind- and frequently end
by changing their views based on new knowledge.
"A broad-based education, inter-disciplinary study, and the
ability to think beyond the textbook or class lecture is important
for students. Being able to think and write clearly, critically, and
cogently is a skill that will contribute to quality of life.

Critical thinking is the art of taking charge of your own mind. If
we can take charge of our own minds, we can take charge of
our lives; we can improve them, bringing them under our self-
command and direction. This requires that we learn self-
discipline and the art of self-examination. This involves
becoming interested in how our minds work, how we can
monitor, fine tune, and modify their operations for the better. It
involves getting into the habit of reflectively examining our
impulsive and accustomed ways of thinking and acting in
every dimension of our lives."

Our actions are based on some motivations or reasons. But we
rarely examine our motivations to see if they make sense. We
rarely inspect our reasons critically to see if they are rationally
justified. As consumers we sometimes buy things hastily and
uncritically (undecidedly), without ever thinking whether we
really need what we are tending to buy or whether we can find
the money for it or whether it's good for our health or whether
the price is competitive. As parents we often react to our
children impulsively and uncritically. We do not determine
whether our actions are consistent with how we want to act as
parents or whether we are contributing to their self-esteem. We
do not think whether we are discouraging them from thinking or
from taking responsibility for their own behavior.

The Qur'an repeatedly provokes and challenges the reader to
think and contemplate the signs of Allah so that she/he can
understand. Human destiny is not to be passive like the angels
but to be creative for which she/he has been given the most
sublime gift of all, the mind. And creative mind is a critical mind.
The religious justification for understanding the reading of the
Qur'an as initially an intellectual challenge is that mere
unreflective and unexamined acceptance of that which is
handed down to us is frowned upon by Islam. There is a
dynamic relationship that exists in Islam between faith and
reflective thought. And has not the Qur'an said, "(Here is), a
Book which We have sent down unto thee, full of blessings, that
they may meditate on its Signs, and that men of understanding
may receive admonition." (Surah, Al-Sad, 38: 29). In fact, "verily
in that are Signs for those who reflect (Surah, Al-Rum, 30: 21) is a
constant theme throughout the Qur'an, which, among other
things, underscores the point that meanings of the sign of Allah
cannot be read just off the face of the signs but require thinking
and reflection.

In Islam there is no such thing as knowledge for the sake of
knowledge. Knowledge has no value and virtue in and by itself.
Its virtue lies in bringing human kind closer to Allah. The view
that knowledge is the path that leads to Allah highlights two
things about Islam. Firstly that knowledge in Islam is important
for a Muslim's spiritual growth and development. And,
secondly, since knowledge is acquired through the active
process of going beyond what one already knows, critical
thinking is essential for a Muslim to grow intellectually and
spiritually. It further suggests that intellectual growth without
spiritual development is aimless wandering, and spiritual
development without the intellectual component is
meaningless.

In the Western societies critical thinking is required to lead a
successful life based on pragmatic and utilitarian grounds.
Critical thinking in its secular mode is entirely a worldly affair,
undertaken purely to bring about changes in the world for the
purpose of this life. In Islam, to engage in critical thought is a
moral commitment and to be judged on it's moral worth
independent of its success or failures in this world. Allah (SWT)
requires us to act morally; the success or failure of such actions
is entirely in His hands.
                    ISLAMIC CRITICAL THINKING

In Islam "enlightened thinkers‖ are known as Raushanfekran.

"Afalaa utadabbaroon al-Quran? (4:82)" Do they not do
tadabbur in the Quran? So says Allah in the Quran. Tadabbur
means highly concentrated goal-oriented critical thinking like
the way scientists do when challenged to find something new
or when they embark upon solving a difficult problem.

Qur'anic view of creative reflection is called al-Basira. In Islam
Ijtihad or independent thinking is used as a principle of creative
and critical thinking; rationality and scientific rationality in a
secular perspective.

The Quran encourages us over and over again to think, reflect,
ponder, understand and analyse. However, very rarely do
parents encourage children to question. Our response to
difficult inquiries from our children is to say "do it because I said
so." This discourages the children from developing critical
thinking. They become lazy and complacent and easy prey to
cult type following. To take things at face value makes us
vulnerable.

Reason is the common bond of all humans, a means of
connecting to the world and to others, the same reason
through which Plato and Aristotle communicated their views.
Reason and intellect represent the only way of understanding
this world, even though this understanding is too relative to
guide us to ultimate truths. Our great thinkers, while aware of
the indispensability of reason, knew that reason alone could
not discover all of reality. Our religious tradition claims that it is
ultimately faith of the heart, not the intellect, which
comprehends the whole of reality.

If we think of reason and faith as contradictory and opposed to
one another, because reason achieves more instrumental
impact in this world, faith will be sidelined. It is important to note
that the faith I am talking about exists alongside and parallel to
reason, not in opposition to it.

Reason can merely take us to the gates of the afterlife. Even
though it is aware that the world is not limited to the material, it
cannot go farther than this world. It is here that faith must step
in. Humans cannot do without reason in their lives as they
encounter practical matters, and if they have to choose
between faith and reason, they will choose the latter.
Interpretations of the world based on reason are relative, a
relativity that also permeates our perceptions of religion. But if
our understanding of religious tradition and the Quran gets
moribund (declining) and in need of transformation, this does
not mean that tradition and the Quran have aged themselves.
Our intellect is capable of adapting to the current world while
also remaining attuned to tradition and the Quran, such that
the solid essence of religion is not harmed. Our religious thinking
is bound to evolve.

Due to the regime of taqlid or blind imitation, imposed in the
name of religion from about the 12th century until the end of
the 19th century, the Muslims swallowed the teachings of the
so-called `Four Great Imams', even the wholesale medieval
theology and jurisprudence, in toto. There were many factors
that gave rise to this blind imitation regime of that period and
we cannot discuss them here. Nevertheless, it is important for us
to realize that after nearly a hundred years since the reopening
of the door if ijtihad or critical thinking by Muhammad Abduh's
reform movement, this taqlid regime is still with us.

One should develop critical thinking ability in one's studies first:
in science, mathematics, computers, and economics,
whatever subject one has chosen. If you cannot develop this
ability most probably you would not understand the Quran.
Also, understanding of the Quran is a long and hard and a
lifelong process. And it requires lot of patience and
perseverance plus it demands sacrifice. Therefore, you should
first try to take few important verses of the Quran (the ones
dealing with human relationships and character building) and
try to integrate them in your life and studies. Of course it will be
very hard and there will be lot of temptations to skirt. But try to
avoid them. But keep in mind that we are human beings. We
make mistakes. So, don’t feel too bad or don’t be too hard on
yourself if you make mistakes. Just make sure that next time you
are careful.


                    Barriers to Critical Thinking


• Egocentrism (self-centered thinking):

        – The one thing that unites all human beings,
          regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status,
          or ethnic background, is that deep down inside, we
          all believe that we are better than average drivers
          (Dave Barry).

• Sociocentrism (group-centered thinking):

        – When all think alike, no one is thinking (Walter
          Lippmann).

                                               Bassham et al., 2002


                       Non-Critical Thinking

It is based on unreliable knowledge, suspicious arguments. This
type of knowledge could be true or false but unpredictable.

Beliefs of non- critical thinkers are a collection ideas planted in
them by others. They tend to be easily manipulated, but are
unaware that they are being manipulated. Of course, if one
told them they were being manipulated, they would likely deny
it.

Non-critical thinkers generally accept the beliefs which are
easiest to access.

The non-critical thinker's beliefs usually conform to the group
they most strongly identify with and are most comfortable with.

Non-critical thinkers spout slogans which are programmed into
them, but they are unable to logically defend these positions.
The positions are simply accepted as true. Anyone who
challenges the position will likely be considered ignorant or a
bigot. Any challenge to the position is responded to with anger
rather than intellectual consideration.

Anger (and sometimes violence) is a predictable response.
Here's why. First, the belief is part of the person holding it. It feels
good to hold the belief. People around the person also accept
the belief, so they are comfortable holding it. When the belief is
challenged the person feels threatened. It violates their
"comfort zone." Second, they are not capable of reasoning
properly about the claim. The inability to think logically causes
them to feel inadequate. Operating in a world of emotions, the
only response a non-critical thinker can have to opposition is
anger.

The only way to change the mind of a non-critical thinker is to
expose them to propaganda which enables them to feel more
comfortable about a new belief. If a new idea feels better to
them than the one they currently hold, they may change their
mind. As the group they identify with changes its collective
mind, the non-critical thinker will change their mind to conform.

Notice that truth has nothing to do with the non-critical thinker's
selection of beliefs. Emotions alone drive their "thinking." It
should be quite clear that the non-critical thinker is potentially
quite dangerous. Non-critical thinkers are likely to make
decisions which are bad for themselves and for those around
them. The thinking in their minds is literally disconnected from
reality. They can be manipulated by propagandists into voting
in blocks large enough to result in bad decisions for society.
Ultimately they can be organized into violent mobs or even
armies who can harm or kill those who disagree with them.




              CRITICAL VS UN CRITICAL THINKING




                       Critical Thinking                 Non-Critical Thinking

                                                         black and white -
                   shades of gray - strives for
                                                          superficial level
                    depth
  View of                                                un disciplinary
                   interdisciplinary
knowledge:                                               knowledge is closed
                   knowledge is open
                                                         independent of
                   intertwined with thinking
                                                          thinking


                                                         irrational and
                   rational and consistent               inconsistent
                   strives to learn how to think        stirves to learn what to
  View of          holistic/webbed                       think
 thinking:         original/insightful                  unidisciplinary/linear
                   multiple frames of                   second hand think
                    reference                            one or limited frame of
                                                          reference


                   suspends closure                     strives for closure
                   explorer/probing                     dogmatic/avoiding
                    questioning                          doubting
 Strategies         fair-minded                          ego-
for thinking:       active                                /ethnocentric/emotio
                    collaborative/communal                nal
                    precise language                     passive
                                                          authoritative
                                                          vague language




                     Critical Thinking in Business

Everyone has a native ability to think logically and critically; but
many people, including many small business owners, have
never had the training or practice to develop this capacity.
Fortunately, it is an ability which people can easily master, and
the small business owner who has the capacity to see things
from the points of view of his customers is already well on his
way. Instead of seeing things from his own point of view or
those of his customers, he now has to analyze situations without
a "point of view," critically, in terms of the essential facts only.
Based on these essential facts, he can determine if any action
should be taken and what action.
The key thing about critical analysis is that it has to take place
in the absence of personal wants or desires. The owner of the
business will have all kinds of hopes and desires regarding his
business, but often the facts will not support them. Critical
analysis, instead of starting with, "I want this - how do I get
there?" starts with, "This is what we have - what can we do?" It's
clear how this is the opposite approach to the one intuitively
taken by many people in response to challenges. The
advantage of the latter is that the success rate is much higher.

A typical situation for the small business owner is one where a
potential customer doesn't make a purchase and says that the
product is of poor quality. A typical reaction is to make
changes to the product, often changes which the owner
wanted to make anyway. This may be positive, but it isn't the
action which should result from a critical analysis. The essential
fact here is not that the product is of poor quality, but that a
customer has criticized the product. There are at least three
explanations possible: the product could be bad; the product
could be good but the customer ill-informed; or the customer
might have been in a bad mood. Since the three explanations
would result in different actions, the only reasonable action to
be taken is to find out more. In a business framework, it would
probably be best to wait until the customer comes in again or
another customer makes the same comment. They could then
be asked what they meant.

If the same customer had criticized the product, saying he
couldn't make it work, the small business owner might have
dismissed this. It sounds like a problem that's hard to fix and it's
only one customer. Yet, the essential fact here is that the
product did not work for this customer. It's clear that the
problem is with the product and therefore changes in the
product would be justified.

The biggest obstacle preventing many small business owners
from clearly and critically analyzing their challenges is that they
are too involved in their businesses on a personal level. If that's
the case, it is also one of the problems preventing their business
from being as successful as it could be. They need to step
outside, analyze what they have and then choose those of the
possible resulting actions which will get them closer to their
goals.

				
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