Hard skills are unmistakably very necessary for one to strengthen, but they may be useless if the soft skills do not come along with it. “We believe that hard skills pose as our bullets; soft skills construct the gun. Imagine owning bullets but without the proper gun to shoot the shots. What’s the point in that?” expressed by the Soft Skills Division of SPE ITS SC.
The Soft Skill Course is a series of events conducted by the Soft Skills Division under the Department of Professionalism, which was targeted to polish the soft skills students possess in preparation for the life post graduate. The courses are in the form of webinars where experts of their own fields are invited to share insights on the importance and development of certain soft skills. This time, Soft Skill Course 2 adopted the topic of “Critical Thinking: Boost Awareness and Intelligence” and invited the remarkable Joy Deryl Lu, SPE ITS Alumnus and Associate at Boston Consulting Group.
Critical Thinking and Why It’s Important
“It is basically self-checking; questioning whether the information you have, your current point-of-view, is correct or not.” pointed Deryl, when defining critical thinking.
Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, and self-corrective way of thinking. The thinking process requires ourselves to take the role as the driving force to maintain self-regulation.
Critical thinking is highly significant, especially right now, due to the following factors:
- Allowing yourself to be well-informed in the midst of misinformation and misunderstandings
- Determining what is right and wrong before taking action
- Considering the consequences as part of problem-solving
- Encouraging the act of self-reflection; asking ourselves whether our perspective or the information we believe in is correct or not
Delving into The Critical Thinking Process
Critical thinking is not achieved at random or with a hit-or-miss mindset. Critical thinking requires a disciplined process that considers the following several factors (source: Lifeworx).
It is the ability to collect and process information and knowledge. Quoted from Lifeworx.co.za, analysis is the fact-finding mission; when one gathers all the data necessary in order to make decisions.
It is concluding what the meaning of the processed information is; extracting some meaning from the data gathered. “Ask yourself this: what does it really mean?” directed Deryl, when giving an example on how to interpret information.
It is assessing whether the knowledge you have is sufficient and reliable. Check: have you gathered all the information needed? Check again: did you consider the information from various, different perspectives? “Basically, it is to take a step back and assess the information you currently have,” stated Deryl, former Project Officer of PETROLIDA in 2017.
It is the ability to make decisions based on the available information. Evaluation is the step to make judgements and take action after making sure and believing that the information obtained is sufficient enough to do so.
It is communicating your findings and reasoning clearly. Once the decision is made, it is very important and crucial to deliver your findings well in order to convince and to make others see your point. Even the brightest ideas don’t matter if they are hardly understood by others as a result of a poor explanation of it.
It is the drive to constantly monitor and correct your ways of thinking. Quoted from Lifeworx, you have to be objective and slot in your judgement into a bigger picture. Ask yourself: is my point-of-view applicable in real life? Are my theoretical findings and conclusions relatable? Have I done enough analysis before I can even talk about it?
It is the foundation of all processes of critical thinking; taking into account other possibilities and points of view. “If you don’t have an open mind, what will happen is that you will only put all the data and information that is aligned with what you want. This contradicts the true meaning of critical thinking itself, where you expose the truths only and not necessarily what you want to see or hear.” reprimanded Deryl.
Pairing Critical Thinking with Problem-Solving
Critical thinking needs to be paired with problem-solving skills in order to solve the problem. “So, it’s not just thinking about the problem, but we also should find a way on how to solve it.” added Deryl, emphasizing the importance of problem-solving skills hand-in-hand with critical thinking.
There are three ways of problem-solving we know: the anyhow way, the scripted way, and the structured way. The anyhow way is whichever way that will help you achieve the solution; any random way to solve the problem. The scripted way is following what was already done before; directed by the “usually it’s done this way–there’s no way it can be different” in order to solve the problem. Meanwhile the structured way is having the mindset of “I need to understand the problem first before getting to the answer”.
With his background in management consulting, Deryl decided to deepen more on the structured way of problem-solving as it is the key in day-to-day practices of a consulting firm in solving major problems with colossal risks. Deryl started off with emphasizing how the ability to identify problems really drives the quality of the solution.
“Some people rush into solving problems without really thinking; whereas in reality, what actually works, is really thinking about it first before taking any action.” stated Deryl firmly.
Deryl then identified the following principles in solving problems the structured way.
- Pyramid Principle: Involves vertical and horizontal relations we need to consider.
- MECE Principle: Mutually Exclusive-Collectively Exhaustive to make sure we don’t miss any potential solution or possibility
- SCQ: Situation-Complication-Question, to make sure we ask the right questions
- Issue Tree: Breaking down the big issue or high-level into the sub-level issues to generate sub-level hypothesis that we can prove or disprove with further analysis
Don’t miss out your chance in gaining new insights on soft skills development and its urgency in the workplace at SPE ITS SC’s Soft Skill Course. (Ory/Journalism)
The Soft Skill Course 2 with the topic of “Critical Thinking: Boost Awareness and Intelligence” ends with a group photo of the keynote speaker and audiences