Reaching critically reviewed, dissected, and discussed decisions may require creative thinking about how to do it.
Critical thinking, though, is not a synonym for creative thinking.
I received a reminder about the simple eloquence of critical thinking during a recent visit to the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. Throughout the museum, visitors have opportunities to listen to primary source accounts of what spies do and how they do it.
Two things jumped out as we toured the facility. One was a statement and the other a strategy. Perhaps our current environment of jumping to conclusions, tweet storms, “fake news,” and ideologically embracing only what serves one’s POV, made these memorable for me.
One background video shared the perspective of a long-time intelligence official. She explained that the intelligence community gathers an overwhelming amount of data. She reminded the audience that intelligence officers cannot (should not) tell a whole story from a single piece of information. That piece of data must be connect to, corroborated by, or dismissed because of the other data that surrounds it.
The Lesson/Reminder. Don’t jump to a conclusion because one piece of evidence is compelling or supports a preconceived notion or ideological stance.
An interactive exhibit shared the story behind the Osama bin Laden raid. In particular, the intelligence analyst spoke about Red Teaming (Red Team Analysis). Museum visitors sit at a board and walk through the process the intelligence community did as it reviewed the evidence (lots of data points) pointing to the probable location of the intended target. (If you click here and scroll to the Media Gallery and then move to item 4/8, you will see a still photo of this exhibit.)
The Lesson/Reminder. Red Teaming requires assuming a role to rebut an original premise. So, in the raid mentioned above, the starting point placed the key person inside a compound. The Red Team analysis established three other credible explanations as to whom or what else could have been housed in the same compound. The intelligence community then needed to sift through the information—the original hypothesis and the alternative explanations—in order to determine the course of action. It was not easy.
Critical thinking requires gathering information, evaluating the information and sources for credibility, examining possible alternative explanations, discussing the findings, listening to and weighing contrary points of view, and then drawing conclusions based on analysis of credible evidence.
Critical thinking is not memorization of facts, blind ideological adherence to only what supports a preconceived belief, remaining steadfast in the face of countervailing information, or creating a narrative to support a belief.
Reaching critically reviewed, dissected, and discussed decisions may require creative thinking about how to do it. Red Teaming is one example of such thinking.
Critical thinking, though, is not a synonym for creative thinking. Creating the facts to support our view or ignoring facts that do not support our beliefs is not critical thinking.
Video Recommendation for the Week.
This TED-Ed video explains a five-step critical thinking process.
My latest book,
Community as a Safe Place to Land,
has been released! You can purchase it (print or e-book) on Amazon.
More information (including seven free podcast episodes to highlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
Make it an inspiring and grateful week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
You can still order my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). Another university recently (May 2019) adopted it for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.
Consider it for a faculty orientation or a mentoring program. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.
My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).
You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®