1. How Do You Teach Applied Critical Thinking?
The very definition of critical thinking speaks about the ability to evaluate evidence and arguments. Data forms the bulk of evidence and the basis upon which firms make their decisions. I work with students to illustrate how data driven decision making provides a framework for defensible, informed and context aware decisions. We explore the what-ifs and the why of every problem and use data to support our decisions as well as to show why the alternatives may not be optimal.
2. Why Do You Think Applied Critical Thinking is Important in Your Domain?
The consequences of decision making within firms are complex and they affect a multitude of stakeholders. Critical thinking and data provide a way to distance yourself form your biases and examine problems more rationally. However, the nature of global business is such that changes are rapid and black swan events are common. Problems are often the first of their kind and many present with incomplete information. Critical thinking allows you to tackle these unstructured tasks and provides a way to deal with ambiguity.
3. Can You Share a Story Where Quality Applied Critical Thinking Was Key to Your Success?
Business as a domain sometimes suffers from the HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) problem. Early on in my career, I was involved in some consulting work new product development. I used critical thinking and counterfactuals to support the need to push the firm into building a variation of one of their major products. I had a lot of resistance at the management level but the founder took one look at the report and decided that the opportunity space made sense. It was the project that launched my career.
4. How Do You Use Critical Thinking in Other Areas of Your Life Outside of RIT?
I try to make rational decisions whenever I can. Last year I needed to replace my aging automobile. I thought long and hard about buying a popular electric car and considered its many features. I was drawn to some of its cool features but I paused and considered the purchase critically. The fact that I lived in Rochester, my usual commute patterns, length of drive and my five year old son were weighed against having a cool car, updated features and cost. Ultimately, I decided against it. I am yet to own a new vehicle or lease one.
5. Any Last Critical Thoughts?
I strongly believe that we train students for jobs that don’t even exist yet. Skills and knowledge help solve known issues, critical thinking allows you to deal with unstructured problems.