Thursday, July 12, 2012

CRITICAL THINKING VS DECISION MAKING

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People time and again think of things in no more than one aspect. The ability to look at situations in various aspects enables one to think critically and make decisions. Is there a variation between critical thinking and decision-making? One might think critical thinking and decision-making go “hand in hand.” Based on my own personal experience, I find that this is not always the case. This paper will examine the relationship between critical thinking and decision-making and how they relate to each other.

“Critical thinking is a special kind of thinking devoted to the evaluation of ideas. More specifically, it relates to testing the accuracy of statements and the soundness of the reasoning that links them.” (Ruggiero, 18, 144) Browne and Keeley, authors of Asking the Right Questions A Guide to Critical Thinking define critical thinking as an awareness of a set of interrelated critical questions, plus the ability and willingness to ask and answer them at appropriate times. In my opinion, critical thinking is analyzing thoughts with an unbiased opinion and coming to a conclusion based on the information provided.

There are quite a number of benefits related to being a critical thinker. Critical thinkers take charge of their thoughts. They make every effort to understand situations or ideas by asking questions. By being honest with themselves, critical thinkers recognize that extreme views are most often incorrect. I think the most important benefit of being a critical thinker is critical thinkers know within themselves that they make the best judgment or conclusion based on the information provided by being open to other views and practicing fair-mindedness.

Often we make decisions without thinking about it. The Encarta World English Dictionary defines decision-making as the process of making choices or reaching conclusions, especially on important political or business matters. The text Asking the Right Questions A Guide to Critical Thinking suggests “most of the research on decision making starts with a recognized and defined problem The task of the decision maker is to come up with a solution.” I agree that a decision maker has to take action and come up with solutions, but I don’t think decision-making is always problematic. It’s simply making a choice about a given situation.

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Critical thinking and decision-making are very much connected. However, that does not mean that a decision maker is also a critical thinker. Often times, questions are asked after decisions are already made. Critical thinkers ask questions prior to coming to their conclusions. Critical thinkers must keep an open mind about a situation before coming to a conclusion. However, decision-makers are not always open-minded and unbiased in their opinions before taking action.

Decisions are made daily at home and in the workplace. Currently, I am employed with SPX Corporation. Our company is number on the Fortune 500 list. In a corporate company such as SPX, critical thinkers are needed to ensure the company’s profitability and success. However, in my opinion, critical thinking is not utilized with every decision being made. Honestly, I don’t think critical thinking is necessary for making all decisions. Our Finance Department is a department where critical thinking and decision-making are both used together. Forecasting and planning a yearly budget is critical to any company’s profitability. Several components are needed before making a decision. In this case, the critical thinkers in the department have a brainstorm session. They ask several questions regarding cash. They try to predict how much we will spend and how much we will collect. They also create “what-if” scenarios to see what could happen in different situations. Crucial decisions are made only after each scenario is played out. After all, the decisions made in the finance department are detrimental to everyone in the company. I guess critical thinking and decision-making are related, but they don’t always go “hand in hand.”

Ruggiero, V. R. (18). Beyond feelings A guide to critical thinking (5th ed.). Mountain View, CA Mayfield Publishing Company.

Browne, M. N., Keeley S. M. (18) Asking the right questions A guide to critical thinking (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ Pearson Education Company

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