Critical Thinking
For Supervisors, Managers and Leaders

Course #361
Duration: 3 Days, At customers location
Download Workshop Brochure (pdf) for a more detailed look
Read HeadScratchers our clients have used in the workshop.
We contrast your everyday automatic thinking with Critical Thinking.
Critical Thinking
Automatic Thinking
Stronger foundation for decisions
More time on getting clear and less time and rework needed for decisions
Weaker foundation for decisions
Less time on getting clear and more time and rework needed for decisions
We present a set of core tools and exercises combined with those from our advanced and innovation workshops to create solutions and just as important, to present them with credibility.
Empty Bucket




So What?


Anticipatory Thinking
Get Clear

Credibility / Consistency
Presenting / Defending
Triangular Thinking






Overview     (Download the Workshop Brochure for more details)

Critical Thinking is a method of analyzing and looking at problems, decisions, and goals.  This results in faster decisions, more creative and innovative solutions, and higher quality deliverables. Critical thinking has an immediate positive impact for solving current problems, and has significant long term benefits with business issues, goals, and strategies.  Imagine the benefits when people are “Thinking” at a new level.

The Foundation: 
This three-day workshop provides supervisors, managers and leaders a thorough foundation and set of tools and techniques for Critical Thinking in a variety of problem solving, decision making and leadership situations.  The participants will practice these tools in numerous and extended exercise sessions using their real individual business issues.  Templates, called Thinksheets, are used as a guide for thinking, both in the class, and to aid future out of class use. 

The Thinking Coach: 
Having learned and practiced the core critical thinking tools, the participants will role play and partake in an extensive Thinking Coach exercises.  A Thinking Coach is one who gets others to think.  As a manager and leader of people, it’s essential to get others to think critically.  Whether you’re managing up, across or down, interacting with customers or third parties, being a Thinking Coach is a discipline to help and organization focus on true issues and implement critical thinking throughout an organization. 

Creating a Critical Thinking Environment
Critical Thinking doesn’t happen by itself, nor with just training.  The environment needs to support it.   In this workshop, we’ll expand on additional tools to help foster a critical thinking environment.  This includes; expanded sessions on getting agreement, enrollment and presenting. Also included are outside-the-box, Abductive and Impossible thinking tools to foster and encourage and environment to look at solutions beyond business as usual.

Our Customization
While Critical Thinking isn’t difficult, the learning is most effective when tailored and practiced within a familiar area of focus and real world situation.  Prior to the workshop, we meet with some of the attendees to obtain an understanding of the work they do and specific objectives and challenges they have.  With this, we create relevant examples and exercises for the workshop.   Using their issues and challenges, as well as the functional areas focus and seniority of the attendees, we customize:
•  The appropriate techniques and content most effective for the attendees
•  The examples and break-out exercises used in the workshop

Learning Objectives:  After completing this course, you will be able to:
      •  Be a Thinking Coach
      •  Distinguish “Automatic” Thinking from “Manual”
      •  Understand a Framework for Thinking Critically and apply the 3 step Critical Thinking Process
      •  Learn and practice a variety of tools to think critically including the use of Thinksheets to:
      •  Get Clear on a Problem, Situation or Goal
      •  Guide thinking for Conclusions (yours and your team)
      •  Guide thinking for Decisions
      •  Be able to identify the “box” that constrains your current thinking and think outside of it.
      •  Creating credible presentations for buy-in, enrollment and approval.
      •  Understand how critical thinking can help to lead through change
      •  Thinking through 11 risk factors and how they weigh in
      •  Leave the day knowing how to ask questions to get yourself and others to think critically
      •  Identify where you can apply Critical Thinking in your job and create a next steps plan

Course Outline:
We focus on the 3 major components of critical thinking related to problem solving and decision making and how to apply these in the work environment and as a leader. (also see diagrams in this document).
      •  Clarity of issue, problem, or decision. The most important step in critical thinking. 
      •  Conclusions - 99% of conclusions are Inductive reasoning. This includes; Facts, Observations,   
          Experiences, Beliefs, Assumptions.  We show how these components form conclusions. 
      •  Decisions - Attendees learn that the decision process is very different than reaching a conclusion   
         and that quality decisions require two elements to be present.

Topics Covered:
    • Distinguishing “Automatic” Thinking from “Manual Thinking”
    • Framework and Benefits of Critical Thinking
    •  Empty your bucket
    •  Clarity - “Get Clear” on a problem to solve or decision to make, and the Clarity Thinksheet
         •  Inspecting the problem statement
         •  The tools of Socratic Questioning; Why, So What, What else
         •  Anticipatory Thinking
         •  Need vs. Want
         •  A Family of HeadScratchers
         •  Ingredient Diagram
    •  Conclusions - Create Solutions and the Conclusion Thinksheet
         •  Applying Inductive & Deductive thinking.
         •  Understanding the Premise that leads to a conclusion and how personality affects this.
         •  How facts, observations, experiences, beliefs and assumptions affect your thinking
         •  Why people come to different conclusions and what to do about it.
         •  A critical thinking view of change and how to address it
         •  Credibility and Consistency - Increasing the strength of your premise
         •  Triangular Thinking - When you can’t know exactly
         •  Argument Analysis - Review for and against arguments as elements of conclusions
         •  Exercises in Presenting solutions to influence, enroll, and get approval
    •  Innovation - Creating an environment and stimulating creativity and innovation
         •  Thinking Outside-the-Box - Challenging the Premise (What if?, What other?)
         •  Abductive Thinking - Thinking beyond your experience
         •  Impossible Thinking -To generate Breakthrough ideas
         •  Encouraging and enrolling a team behind innovation
    • Decisions - Taking action and the Decision Thinksheet
         •  The Elements of Decision; Who, When and Criteria
         •  Risk Criteria - 11 Risk factors to help evaluate risk (Downsides, Downside Probability, Upside,
            Upside Probability, Downside Absorption Capability, Ignoring Statistical Downside,
            Controllability, Necessity of Upside, Reversibility, Mitigation Strategy, Preeminent Metrics)
         •  Fuzzy Criteria - Not all the criteria are black and white.  This topic looks at the grey ones
    •  Being a Thinking Coach
         •  The rules & Extended Role play to practice this skill and implementing this in a team
    •  Next Steps - Your plan to implement your learning (for yourself and your team

     Examples of where these skills can be applied include:
This Results in ...

People, Time and Money spent
on the right problem

Clarity of issue and decision to be made

Defendable and Clear Conclusions
New ideas
Skills to influence and Guide Others


Solid Conclusions
Successful Decisions
Fewer iterations and redo's
Crisp, Decisive, Defendable Decisions
Risk Mitigation

Faster and Quality
Decision Making
What's the benefit of Critical Thinking and the workshop.
Attendees learn Pragmatic Critical Thinking Techniques resulting in;
  •  Faster and higher quality decisions that are more likely to be the correct ones.
  •  Superior solutions to problems, goals, and strategies.
  •  Advanced view and tools for decision making
  •  Better understanding of the dynamics between different aspects of a business or project
  •  Innovative ideas and solution
  •  Higher productivity
  •  Being better equipped to tackle problems and make decisions on a daily basis.
Critical Thinking skills gained can be applied to:
  •  General problem solving and decision making
  •  New product ideas and creation
  •  Short and long term business strategies
  •  Improved development processes and quality
  •  Improved operational efficiency
  •  Crisis Management
  •  Revenue generation and cost reduction strategies
  •  Customer care improvement
Contact us for more information or to schedule a Workshop

Core plus Advanced incorporates our Risk module and Innovation Tools
What's unique about our workshop? This isn't your ordinary "academic" day. It's not just "theory", but pragmatic, proven techniques for solving real world business problems, strategies and challenges.

We customize the workshop to your business, with real examples and exercises that come from interviews with would be attendees. The attendees learn critical thinking AND see it in action with their own day-to-day issues.
Using concepts from our model we created a simple framework for Critical Thinking
Post course 1:1 mini coaching sessions available for followup and continued assistance
Mulitple curriculums for varied attendees
We also modify the curriculum for the mix of attendees:
   •   Executives and Business Leaders
   •   Teams (a Manager and team, or cross functional)
   •   Supervisors, Managers and Directors
   •   Individual Contributors
   •   Mixed class of multiple disciplines and responsibilities

•  Improved processes and quality •  Short and long term business strategies
•  Difficult conversations  •  Presenting for agreement and enrollment
•  General problem solving and decision making •  Leading people and teams
•  Crisis management •  Performance management
•  Strategic Planning •  Influencing Leadership
•  New product ideas and creation •  Improved operational efficiency
•  Project management • Change Management
•  Revenue generation and cost reduction strategies • Customer care improvement
• Process design •  Business planning
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