Dear GVCSHRM Members,
When it comes to thinking in the business world chances are the first thing that comes to mind is strategic thinking. Critical thinking also quickly comes to mind. What about reflective thinking? That type of thinking is just as important and in many ways more important. It would probably be helpful to understand the differences between all these types of thinking because strategic and critical are often used synonymously and many people haven’t heard of reflective.
For the sake of helping define these here’s a kind of military analogy that might be helpful. Strategic thinking is what is used to plan a battle. Critical thinking is used once the battle has started and decisions have to be made as circumstances arise in order to continue on course with the overall plan. Reflective thinking is used to determine what lessons have been learned from everything to do with the battle (including the initial planning). Each of these can be learned and developed to help improve decision making capabilities.
There is a commonality they all share. That is, they will impact the future at some point from the time that they occur. Good reflective thinking will keep you from experiencing a “temporal causality loop” (sci-fi fans that one is for you). In other words you won’t have to relive the same mishaps over and over again.
There are other types of thinking but these 3 are arguably the most important. They form a tripod. Remove any one of them and the tripod collapses. When combined they support and strengthen each other. Reflective thinking creates wisdom and those with wisdom are better strategic and critical thinkers. Keep in mind that because thinking is a fluid and adaptive process there isn't necessarily an absolute right thought solution.
Getting back to reflective thinking and the underestimated importance it plays here are a few key things to note. Build time into the day for this. Find a quiet place where there aren’t any disturbances so that you can focus. Reflective thinking is very much a proactive process. You want to engage your mind and fill it with thoughts on how the decisions that were made have played out and will continue to play out. Simply put, what are the lessons to be learned? There is a fitting quote from Mark Twain that says "We should be careful to get out of an experience all the wisdom that is in it.”
Probably the biggest enemy to good thinking (in any category) is time. It’s not uncommon to find people spending more time reacting instead of thinking. In today’s world, due to the hectic pace, it is often an effort to find the patience and energy to put toward thinking. Even so it’s incredibly important to do so.
Well, there you have it, a few things to think about. I’ll see you out there.
Howard Cotton, SPHR