> Management & Leadership > Critical thinking – a key skill of the future

Critical thinking – a key skill of the future

enEnglish available languages

Three-quarters of US companies say they have difficulty recruiting the right people, with critical thinking among the top requirements, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. That begs the question: can these ‘soft skills’ be taught.

“It’s time to reject the notion that critical thinking is either an innate gift that can’t be developed or a skill learned only through experience,” says Matt Plummer, founder of online coaching company Zarvana. “You can help your team members develop one of today’s most in-demand skills.”

Zarvana has published a Critical Thinking Roadmap to help employers guide their employees. It says the way to be a better critical thinker comes through these four phases: execute, synthesize, recommend, and generate. The execute phase is when people are converting instructions into action.

“Once team members are making suggestions for how to improve their work, you know they’re ready for the next phase,” the Roadmap says.

The second phase is synthesize, in which team members sort through information and figure out what is important – summarizing key takeaways from a meeting, for example. The third, recommend, is reached when employees move from identifying what is important to determining what should be done, even if their recommendations don’t align with the employer’s opinion.

Finally, the fourth phase focuses on generating, and team members are required to create something out of nothing.

“In this phase, they become adept at translating the vision in others’ heads – and their own – into projects that can be executed,” Zarvana says. Brainstorming and keeping lists of ideas to share are key at this level.

Developing critical thinking is becoming more important as policy-makers around the world grapple to equip their citizens with the right education. The World Economic Forum report The Future of Jobs identifies analytical thinking and creativity as two of the main skills that will be in demand in 2022.

And in The Global Competitiveness Report. the World Economic Forum looks at the teaching of critical thinking as one element to assess how ready a country is for the future of work. The report poses the question: “In your country, how do you assess the style of teaching?” and asks respondents to grade their response from 1, which is teacher-based and focused on memorizing, through to 7 for encouraging creative and critical individual thinking. Finland comes top, with a score of 5.6 out of 7.

enEnglish available languages