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One of the most overlooked components of Critical Thinking is one of the most important steps. That step is communicating your conclusions to others. Unfortunately, the benefit of Critical Thinking can be lost because the communication is unclear or overlooked.
One reason for this miss is we often leave communication for the last step. The public relations, communications and HR departments of companies can certainly relate to this as they are often the last to know. If you have ever had a construction project around your house, most likely your were "surprised" by your contractor with something that was a part of their plan, but not yours.
Not everything can or should be planned, but many, many things are planned and those plans need to be communicated.
One easy way to avoid many of the surprises and communication misses is to change when the communication plan is created. Don't wait until the conclusion is completely formed and ready to be implemented. Instead, insert a step into the process of coming to a conclusion with the question, "How would we communicate this IF we came to this conclusion, or IF we made these assumptions?" Build the communication plan as you go along, and even better, start the process of communicating before the plan is done.
The Risk; You shouldn't start this communication too early in the thinking. You don't want to see-saw the recipient of a plan with every scenario you're thinking about, discarding or modifying. But you Do want to involve the recipient as your plan solidifies so they have time to make their plans related to your plans.
And be Clear. When we work on a project, or issue, we might take for granted that all the thinking and words we have used will be understood by others. Be very clear and define what the words mean. Answer the why's and offer the reasoning (the thinking) behind your conclusions. Take the time to answer questions; while the answers are obvious to you, they may not be for others who were not involved in the formation of your conclusion.
Great project and program mangers spend a huge amount of their time making sure that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing, i.e. they are constantly communicating the specifics for Clarity to all the dependent parties.
The Takeaway: Go beyond asking what you need to get the job done, but consider the people that are dependent on your work and what they need from you to get their work done, and how you can get that information to them early in the process. Build into your Critical Thinking, Clear, and Timely Communication!
HeadScratchersLLC Critical Thinking Techniques for Problem Solving, Decision Making and Creativity. Our Mission; To help people become better HeadScratchers! We teach critical thinking techniques to managers, leaders and individuals resulting in the improved performance of an individual and organization.
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