Critical Thinking - Problem-Solving


Critical thinking has existed for centuries. In fact, all the philosophers and poets of the world have managed to look beyond what looks obvious, so that they could understand the deeper meanings of things and the functioning of the world. While apples have dropped from trees for centuries, it took Newton to think about the reason behind it and that brought about the Law of Gravity.

According to psychologists, problems are the path that connects Point A and Point B, where Point A is the present state of the problem-solver and Point B is where he would want to be. All solutions lie in the path of travelling from Point A to Point B. Critical Thinking helps people in looking for the path that connects Point A to Point B. This is called connecting the dots, where people look at a problem as an opportunity to exercise their collective ideas and reach a conclusion. It won’t be amiss to say that Critical Thinking is one of the first steps to effective problem-solving.

Discrepancies are fluctuations from the desired way of problem-solving or functioning. The way in which many of us will like to solve problems is by removing any discrepancies, however that will lead us to adopt a totalitarian thinking process where no thoughts other than the ones we have decided upon will be accepted. Critical thinkers are not interested at all in removing discrepancies. They see them as variances, which means “variations” on their own problem-solving methods. They like to observe these variances as possibly better methods to address the problems and find solutions.

It’s also a good idea to trust your instincts while trying and solving a problem. Many thinkers like Edison have stood at crossroads in their lives, where they were faced with many options and didn’t know which approach to take. In cases like these, they relied upon their intuition, and coupled with informed guessing and brainstorming, were able to find a way out.

People often have the tendency of rushing forward when a possible solution appears, however they tend to forget that many problems can have multiple solutions, and it’s quite possible that the path you are following is not the most logical and practical path to the problem’s solution. Critical Thinking helps in also finding multiple solutions to a problem so that the best method can be adopted.

Any problem must be solved keeping in mind the following factors

  • Is the method of problem-solving logistically viable?

  • Is the method of problem-solving as inclusive as possible?

  • Does the method of problem-solving have any strings attached?

  • Is the solution being opposed by a few people, and are their objections considered?

Keeping these factors will help us in arriving at a solution that is not only agreeable to all the people, but also will have the maximum inputs on solving it. There is a case study mentioned below that will ask you to test your problem-solving skills. You are encouraged to implement Critical Thinking to find out the different ways in which the issue can be addressed.

Your company has a couple of managers who report their team’s sales figures at the end of the week, however, when the reported sales numbers are tallied with the number of leads generated, some numbers are found not matching.

Another issue is that while the sales are reported, the transactions don’t start showing up till weeks later. This causes issues in billing and record maintenance. The customer care department reports heavy customer complaints for these managers too.

The management has decided to follow-up the matter with their account managers and hand this matter over to a task-force who can find out the optimal solution to this problem.

As the head of this task-force, how would you solve this problem?