Decisions in my workplace can be improved through critical thinking. I notice that a lot of the soldiers in my unit make decisions based on their emotions as opposed to more rational means of making choices. I suppose that this is due to a lack of knowledge about the subject of critical thinking. Based on my own experiences, emotionally based decisions tend to be more extreme and can lead to choices that one will regret ever having made. This paper will discuss the relationship between critical thinking and decision making. With this paper, I will briefly address questions pertaining to the following areas of critical thinking: (1) What is critical thinking, (2) What is decision making, (3) How do they relate to one another, (4) The benefits of thinking critically, and (5) My observations of how critical thinking processes are being applied in my unit.
What is Critical Thinking?
Our text book defines critical thinking simply as a “systematic evaluation of arguments based on explicit rational criteria” (Browne, Keely, McCall, & Kaplan, 2001). I interpret that definition as gathering as much evidence and facts possible as time permits before making a final decision. For instance, whenever one of my soldiers doesn’t report to formation on time I make it a point to make sure he or she is ok before jumping to conclusion. The fact of the matter is that I really don’t know weather or not the soldier has a legitimate excuse until I am able to evaluate all of the available evidence. If I assume the soldier has a poor excuse before talking to him or her, then I will open myself up to getting upset too early. What if we get informed that the soldier was rushed to the hospital and in critical condition due to a car accident? I’ll feel very stupid that I jumped to conclusion like that. The bottom line is that we should take our time and gather as many facts as possible before reacting so quickly.
What is Decision Making?
A successful leader in the military must possess the ability to constantly alternate between critical thinking and decision making. Our materials for this course refers to decision making as the ability to use logical and sound judgment to make choices based on available information. This simply means think before and while you act. This requires us to ask a series of questions that pertain to the situation in order to correctly assess it. I’m responsible for repairing communications equipment in my unit. Before I decide what the problem is and how to fix it, I must interview the operator before troubleshooting. I ask questions such as: what’s the problem, did you attempt to fix the problem yourself before coming to me, is your antenna connected, etc. The right questions help me decide where to start. I also ask myself questions that allow me to make better decisions as to what course of action I should take. If someone says my radio system is down and I react without critically thinking, I’ll waste valuable time before I identify the problem and fix it because I will be clueless as where to start (Browne, Keely, McCall, & Kaplan, 2001).
Critical Thinking and Decision Making
As you can see critical thinking and decision making go together. Quality decisions are a result of taking the time to evaluate the situation and separating the good information from the bad. Whenever we critically think, we are simultaneously activating the decision making process. The decision making process is completed once we take action. I make it a point to allot a certain amount of time for thinking sessions in which I simply go to a quiet area and think about my commitments pertaining to work and other areas of my life and consider ways in which I can improve my processes. Once an idea for improvement dawns on me, I make decisions as to how to implement it. The process is completed once I physically implement the idea.
Some of the Benefits of Critical Thinking
Everybody should be aware of the benefits of critical thinking. Critical thinking allows us to better understand the arguments and views of others which makes us less likely to argue and more apt to solving problems. Critical thinking also allows us to strengthen what we believe in while aiding us in the identification and elimination of negative and harmful beliefs. As stated before, critical thinking in the workplace helps us avoid foolish decisions because this type of thinking examines our assumptions, dogmas, and prejudices that can stand in our way (Browne, Keely, McCall, & Kaplan, 2001).
Critical Thinking in My Unit
I’ve noticed a number of decisions being made in my unit are based on emotions and assumptions as opposed to well thought-out processes. If a soldier is late, some leaders assume the soldier has no excuse and are planning how they are going to reprimand the soldier and write them up. Too many times I notice soldiers getting upset when a change takes place because they don’t consider the reasons why the decision was made. Usually change is an attempt to improve a process or prevent something from going wrong. I also notice soldiers being caught off guard and blind sided by things that could have been prevented if they only took the time to think about some of the likely scenarios that may take place. For example, a lot of soldiers were drenched in water because they didn’t think to bring their rain gear to the field exercise. Obviously if they simply considered the chances and consequences of it raining they would have been more prepared.
Always consider the facts before reacting. Decisions based solely on emotions and assumptions are usually not sufficient for making a quality decision. Critical thinking on the other hand paves the way for quality decisions to be made which increases the chances of recognition and promotion in the workplace. And finally, the critical thinking and decision making process is completed once action that corresponds with what you thought of takes place.