Changes are part of everyday life in our times. But that doesn’t mean that they succeed. Studies show that three quarters of all change processes initiated in companies fail. The reasons for this include lack of transparency and emotional, even fear-driven discussions. Critical thinking is both an attitude and an instrument to change that. In the first step, it helps to comprehensively analyze facts and then to communicate them convincingly in the second step.
Karsten Miermans from the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and a passionate “critical thinker” describes critical thinking as follows: “Critical thinking aims to identify mistakes in the thinking and to avoid them in the future. On the other hand, it helps to avoid cognitive distortions , ie abbreviations or automatisms in thinking. ”
The first step in this is the attitude of wanting to build a really conclusive line of reasoning in order to give transparency to all those who are affected by changes, for example, and to help them to form their own comprehensive opinion. The second step is to build a coherent line of reasoning.
Questions that help to comprehensively analyze and describe the facts are, for example:
… was it decided exactly?
… will change specifically?
… are the advantages and disadvantages of the chosen approach?
… would be alternatives?
… what can happen at worst?
… can everyone do that the worst doesn’t happen?
… for uncontrollable or unpredictable risks?
… can anyone do to bring change to life?
… is this change absolutely necessary at the present time?
… have we decided on this specific path?
… do we accept that certain things deteriorate?
… are we convinced that the change will succeed?
… is there no sensible alternative to the proposed route?
… Do we need support from external consultants?
… is standstill worse than change?
… mustn’t the worst happen?
… is everything affected by the change?
… benefits from it?
… suffers from disadvantages?
… is damaged?
… are key people for the change to succeed?
… are important lateral thinkers?
… can also support?
… is the decisive first step taking place?
… would first successes benefit our company?
… do we know whether this change has really been achieved?
… would it be too late to initiate this necessary change?
… do we see that we will fail?
… should we inform about certain things?
… is the best time to answer questions from those affected?
… should the change process be completed at the latest?
… can we be so sure that this is the right decision?
… do we succeed in convincing those affected of the necessity and urgency of the change?
… can we make the process fail?
… can the greatest possible damage occur?
… can we get the maximum benefit from the change?
… can we ensure that the change succeeds in the planned time and with the budgeted resources?
… Is that exactly what should happen?
… Do we best convey our message to those who are most affected by the change?
… will signs of success be visible first?
… are we most likely to notice that we have to change something in our approach?
… have we done this before and have we been successful?
… are there any similar considerations outside of our company / area?
… will this path lead us?
… let’s get started?
… are low hanging fruit?
… are there similar success stories?
The questions listed represent a selection that will help you to describe facts in detail and to build a conclusive argument from the various facts. The aim is to provide comprehensive information and to give room for both opportunities and risks.
The questions also help to more realistically assess the time and resources needed to actually complete the change. As Daniel Kahnemann and Amos Tversky summarized under “planning fallacy” for the first time in 1979, people and therefore organizations have a tendency to underestimate the time and resources they need to complete tasks. This is also a reason why change processes do not achieve the desired benefits in three quarters of the cases. Therefore, questions that target obstacles, resistance or necessary support are crucial in the analysis of the facts.
Companies that manage to use critical thinking not only develop their employees into sparring partners at eye level, they also make better decisions and strengthen their ability to think analytically.
Karsten Miermans comments: “The simplest skill that is strengthened by critical thinking is analytical thinking. Anyone who uses critical thinking learns to recognize certain structures and arguments more quickly. If you are not familiar with these structures and arguments, it’s easy to be completely overwhelmed by the many details. But if you see through the structure of arguments, you can abstract them from the details. That means we have the ability to think analytically and the structure of ideas. “
This will also mean that decisions are not only made less emotionally, but that decisions are also dealt with less emotionally and therefore less fearfully.
For everyone who wants to familiarize themselves with critical thinking, Karsten Miermans has a book tip: “The art of prudent action: 52 wrong turns that you better leave to others” by Rolf Dobelli. In this book, the author not only describes general thinking mistakes or cognitive distortions for critical thinking, but also gives examples and tips for making decisions faster and better. The author shows that some thought structures have clear, predictable disadvantages. At the same time, it represents other structures of thought with which such disadvantages can be avoided.
Critical thinking helps to make decis
ions in a more rational and objective way. In change processes, this ability helps to present facts transparently and comprehensively. This is convincing and helps to ensure that those affected are willing to change. Changes have a much greater prospect of really succeeding.