Students who have undertaken the new Module 1 titled ‘Foundations of Knowledge & Professional Skills’ will have encountered an emphasis on applying the intellectual values of clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reason, depth, breadth and fairness in their quantitative awareness and analysis of the production of ‘knowledge’ within their academic and professional contexts.
The emphasis ULSM places on critical thinking skills has had a profound impact on a number of professional experiences in my current employment that inspired this reflection. I have noticed that critical thinkers in the workplace are employees and managers who have the ability to look at a scenario from different angles, weigh all viable solutions and finally come up with a holistic approach to solving the problem at hand. It is actually quite tedious a process, sometimes requiring indulgence of several people within the firm as well as a series of brainstorming sessions. Yet all the same, I have found that the ULSM Module 1 has upgraded my creative thinking skills as well to the point that I am very comfortable working in multidisciplinary teams on any given project.
What I have enjoyed experiencing at work is the creative thinking that comes with critical thinking (if that makes sense at all). I’ve noticed severally when a challenge erupts in the working environment, a common reaction is to start shifting responsibility along the lines of predetermined specifics of job role, designation, business process, strategic business unit etc. Yet critical thinking is stripped of assumptions and preconditions; the process of seek-sense-share eliminates the temptation to immediately visit the firm’s ‘archives’ to cluster all arising issues and instead forces employees/managers to look beyond conventions to find new ideas to address current problems. I absolutely love and enjoy this! The end result is very fulfilling.
The beauty of critical thinking is that anyone and everyone can get involved in the process. The more – literally – the merrier. What this means is that diversity in the workplace is strength. Not only does it give employees a sense of ownership, but it also creates corporate pride in products and services designed, developed and launched through collective critical thinking. I have seen several state corporations in Kenya engage in critical thinking exercises in the working environment to promote workplace tolerance and noticed that some have even introduced critical thinking exercises in their in-house training workshops.
Promotes a Variety of Options
I have in the recent months been involved in several technology-driven projects whose working committees consist of disciplines as far reaching as Legal, Ethics & Integrity to name but a few. And it is in these instances that I have seen the benefits and role of critical thinking in enhancing end-user acceptance of solutions designed for our clientele. A firm employing critical thinking product development or service enhancement is better placed to offer not only a diverse range of client solutions but also innovate with relevance: this means that several solutions to the same problem creatively designed from within have a higher likelihood of winning client acceptance and creating customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Uncovering Up-sell & Cross-sell Opportunities
A further outcome of promoting a variety of options is discovering opportunities for spin-offs in the form of up-sell and cross-sell solutions. A comprehensive critical thinking process ends up uncovering useful information that can then be applied to so many other scenarios. I have seen more than one project spun off from a previously well executed programme due to resounding success at roll-out stage that revealed scope for new initiatives at the work place. Hence the critical thinking process offshoots to creative thinking that ends up addressing other unresolved issues in the firm – and we all go home winners!
So 3 cheers for ULSM DL MBA Module 1!!!