The Power Of Critical Thinking: Enhancing Decision-Making And Problem-Solving

Dr. Ron Young, Founder and Board Chair of Trove, Inc. Ron specializes in psychological coaching & transition consulting.

Critical thinking is a fundamental cognitive process that enables individuals to objectively analyze, evaluate and interpret information to make informed decisions and solve complex problems. It involves employing reasoning and logic, questioning assumptions, recognizing biases and considering multiple perspectives. It requires self-monitored, self-directed, self-disciplined and self-corrective thinking. Critical thinking is essential in a world of information and diverse opinions. It helps us see things more clearly and avoid being misled or deceived.

Importance Of Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is crucial in various aspects of life, including education, professional endeavors and personal decision-making. In academic settings, it allows students to comprehend and engage with complex subjects while discerning valid arguments from fallacious ones. In the workplace, critical thinking empowers individuals to analyze problems, devise creative solutions and make informed judgments. In everyday life, it helps individuals navigate an increasingly complex world by making sound choices and avoiding cognitive biases. It is our primary defense against misleading or “spun” information.

Benefits Of Critical Thinking

There are many benefits of critical thinking.

Enhanced Decision-Making

Critical thinking helps us trust our gut feelings and think independently. It enables individuals to make logical and well-reasoned decisions based on evidence and objective analysis. It encourages the consideration of all relevant factors and the evaluation of potential consequences, leading to more informed choices.

Effective Problem-Solving

Critical thinking facilitates the identification of underlying issues, the generation of innovative solutions and the evaluation of their viability. It encourages individuals to approach problems from different angles and consider various perspectives, increasing the likelihood of finding effective resolutions.

Reduction Of Cognitive Biases

Critical thinking supports self-reflection. It helps individuals recognize and challenge cognitive biases that hinder clear judgment. Individuals can better overcome confirmation bias, groupthink and the availability heuristic (judging the likelihood of an event based on recall of similar events) by understanding and questioning their assumptions and beliefs. It requires a commitment to overcoming the tendency to see the world from a narrow, self-centered perspective.

Enhanced Communication Skills

Practicing critical thinking fosters effective communication by enabling individuals to articulate and defend their ideas with logical reasoning and evidence. It encourages active listening, empathy and the ability to evaluate and respond to counterarguments, leading to more constructive and meaningful discussions.

More United Citizens

Using critical thinking enables citizens to see the whole picture by better protecting against biases and propaganda. It reduces partisanship and a “we/they” mentality.

Cultivating Critical Thinking

How can you cultivate critical thinking?

Be curious and inquisitive.

Foster a mindset of curiosity and an eagerness to explore and understand the world. Talk with people from different backgrounds, cultures, political affiliations or religions. Ask probing questions, seek new perspectives and engage in active learning. Learn from people who hold different viewpoints.

Develop analytical skills.

You can do this by learning to break down complex problems into manageable parts, recognize patterns and identify cause-and-effect relationships. Remember, not all opinions are equal, and some are flat-out wrong.

Evaluate information.

Develop skills to evaluate the credibility and reliability of information sources. Be aware of bias, assess evidence and differentiate between fact and opinion. Guard against “swallowing information whole” or believing that “If it’s on the internet, it must be true.”

Practice reflection.

Engage in reflective thinking by evaluating your thoughts, beliefs and assumptions. Consider alternative viewpoints, and be open to changing your perspective based on new information.

Embrace intellectual humility.

Be humble and aware that you could be wrong. Knowledge is an ongoing process; be open to admitting mistakes or gaps in understanding. Embrace a growth mindset that values continuous learning and improvement.

Develop your sense of belonging.

The third tier in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a sense of belonging. One aspect of belonging is connection. All humans have this need. Without critical thinking, we are vulnerable to making our group’s beliefs our own rather than evaluating which beliefs align with our values.

Align your view and your values.

Rather than defining yourself by a particular view, ask whether a different view aligns with your values. When we identify ourselves by the beliefs of our reference group (religious, political, etc.), we look for ways to justify our ideas. In doing so, we deny ourselves access to critical thinking.

Evidence Of Critical Thinking

When you practice critical thinking, it will be evident in several areas:

Evidence-Based Decision-Making

Rely on facts rather than emotions or personal biases. Follow five distinct steps, called the five A’s: ask, access, appraise, apply and audit. Gather relevant information, evaluate the evidence objectively and consider different perspectives before making decisions. Then reevaluate them as you learn new information.


Approach problems systematically by defining the issue, gathering relevant data, brainstorming potential solutions and evaluating feasibility. Engage in collaborative problem-solving to benefit from diverse perspectives. Open-mindedly consider alternative systems of thought. Recognize assumptions, implications and practical consequences, then adjust as needed.

Effective Communication

Solve complex problems by clearly and effectively communicating with others. Utilize critical thinking skills to articulate your thoughts clearly, listen actively and engage in respectful and constructive dialogue. Challenge ideas through logical arguments and evidence rather than resorting to personal attacks. Respecting people with different views does not mean you agree with their opinions. Evaluate, formulate and communicate questions with clarity and precision.

Continuous Learning

Apply critical thinking to ongoing personal and professional development. Seek opportunities for further education, engage in intellectual discourse and actively challenge your beliefs and assumptions.

Using Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a powerful cognitive tool that empowers individuals to navigate the complexities of the modern world. Critical thinking enhances decision-making, problem-solving and communication abilities by fostering logical reasoning, analytical skills and an open mindset. It enables individuals to overcome cognitive biases, evaluate information effectively and make informed choices. Cultivating and applying critical thinking skills benefits individuals and contributes to a more thoughtful and rational society. Embracing critical thinking is essential for fostering intellectual growth, facilitating progress and addressing the challenges of the 21st century.

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1. Combine Gifts, Passions And Innovation

Know who you are today by doing a fresh analysis of your gifts and passions. Use the results of your analysis as your lens for identifying unmet needs in the business world. Think outside the box by breaking away from conventional wisdom. Combining your gifts and passions with innovative ideas is foundational to a successful business that meets your and your consumers’ needs. – Ron Young, Trove, Inc.

2. Gain Clarity And Choose Metrics For Success

I’ve had numerous pro-service clients do this, and most of them have considered it. The most important thing is to have clarity about why you want to start a business. The second thing is to very carefully choose the metrics that will indicate to yourself that you are succeeding. Your “why” and your metrics will keep you grounded when the going gets tough—and it will. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group

3. Leverage Your Experience And Do A SWOT Analysis

Know your strengths, be clear on your personal motivation and leverage your current experience and insights that you have developed over the years in your industry. Think about the pains and gains your clients have experienced and gaps that have not been filled. I also recommend doing a SWOT analysis to gain clarity and alignment and to determine the value proposition. – Breshana Miller, Kairos Coaching & Consulting, LLC

4. Brainstorm With Close Friends

You can’t hesitate or keep your new business too close to your chest. You need to brainstorm with your closest friends, your professional network and those whom you trust. Bounce your ideas off of others and see if they resonate. What do they think your new business is worth? Who do they think the customers would be? Do they know someone who would buy? Have that conversation 100 times and get to work. – Jacob Warwick, ThinkWarwick

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5. Match The Commercial Proposition With The Value You Offer

It is important to match the commercial proposition with the value that you are offering. Before leaving, start researching the potential market to ensure there is a real need. When you are clear on the commercial viability, you can reverse-engineer the process to ensure the proposition fits with your personal drive and passion. – Claudine Reid, PJ’s Community Service

6. Have A Strong Support System In Place

Being an entrepreneur and working for a corporation require different mindsets. To sustain the personal drive and passion, it helps to have a strong support system in place—people who are just as passionate and driven as you and believe in the success of the new business, such as friends, a mastermind group or an experienced coach who can ensure there is a balance between work and personal well-being. – Masha Malka, The One Minute Coach

7. Don’t Follow Your Passion—Bring It To An Opportunity

Don’t follow your passion. I’d rather you bring your passion and drive to an opportunity. The first step is finding a way to improve lives in exchange for profit, then apply your natural passion and drive to improve as many of those lives as possible as efficiently as possible. Because when you do that really well, vision, momentum, growth and, eventually, profit are the results. – David Robertson, Growthpoint Coaching Co.

8. Leverage What Makes You Irreplaceable

You need to clarify the market need for what you do via research, interviews and more. In regard to fulfilling your own needs, a reflective, holistic approach is required to uncover your own personal wants, needs and values to be successful. And above all else, you must uncover something that makes you irreplaceable in the market that you serve. Get all those right and then go for it! – Linda Martin, Linda Martin Results

9. Connect With Your Four Selves

First connect with your four selves—intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical—and be crystal clear about your purpose and commitment to it. Launching a new venture requires all your energy and commitment. Sometimes, it’s rough. Second, get deep input and feedback from those around you—both your trusted network and your more fearless critics. The wider the scope, the richer the insights. – Luis Costa, Luis Costa – coach · facilitator · speaker

10. Enroll Clients To Help Craft Your Company Vision

Get connected to your purpose, build a business plan around your core values and enroll the customers you want to serve to help craft the company vision. In doing this, you will likely find that your needs and the needs of your future customers are very aligned. Trust that a successful launch will follow and that you will have a tribe of allies ready to offer guidance and support when needed. – Emily Rogers, Emily Rogers Consulting + Coaching

11. Outline The Customer Journey And Your Sales Funnel

First, outline the customer journey to define the scope of their need. Second, outline your marketing and sales funnel. If you are not excited to do that, hire someone who is or don’t launch. If the idea of selling and marketing for hours every week does not excite you, pursue a hobby instead. Third, if you don’t have the drive or passion to build a business, get a dog. The dog will love you back every day. – Kelly Tyler Byrnes, Voyage Consulting Group

12. Experiment With A Minimum Viable Product

Take small steps. Too many people get sucked into the entrepreneurial dream without realizing how tough it can be. I would suggest experimenting with the product—take a minimum viable product (MVP) to the market and get feedback. Leaning on your personal drive, experiment with your own business identity. Too many people overestimate their passion and drive and underestimate the challenge. – Devika Das, CORE Executive Presence

13. Take An Inside-Out Approach

Start with your mission and vision. I believe, as a coach, taking an inside-out approach where executives can start exploring their passion as well as what they would see as success for this new endeavor is key. Then, we can explore the marketplace and how this would be sustained as a successful business by developing a strategic business plan. Allow your personal drive to set the tone for success. – Bryan Powell, Executive Coaching Space

14. Build A Business Around Your Retirement Dreams

Start by thinking about your retirement. If you grew your business and sold it for a killing, what would you then be doing in life? At that point, when you wouldn’t have to think about money and profits, what would you be doing with your time? That’s what you should build your business around. It’s bound to be an area where a strong customer or market need is coupled with your own passion and drive. – Vinesh Sukumaran, Vinesh Sukumaran Consulting

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