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Problem Solving & critical thinking

The following essay is divided into the following four sections. In the first part, we define a problem and analyze in short how to deal with it. It will comprise of a description of the problem and how we use our traditional methods to solve it. In the second part, we throw light on what is thinking process and what are the various types of thinking processes. Then we explore more in our next section on what critical thinking is all about. We explain about a good method to detect and analyze our assumptions and how they work in a global scenario.

Lastly we offer an insight on some thinking barriers that help us to identify and understanding a problem and its potential solution. Problem Solving & critical thinking One of my friends, Jim got married last month. He works for an organization at a senior level and has a hectic schedule. Eventually he was not to be able to keep a balance in personal and professional lives. The tension in his mind led to wrong decisions whereas earlier he used to choose the good ones.

To add to it his time management skills also degraded as normally he used log off at 7pm but nowadays as his boss is furious about the last quarter results he floods him up with work. So what do we have here? Has Jim suddenly turned sluggish in his working mode or is it the way his thinking has changed after marriage? When actually he analyzed it in a much deeper sense, it turned out to be very simple issue. He tried segregating activities in the priority of importance and then to complete all of them one by one.

This not only led him to complete his work on time, but also led him to supplement what he did with a professional touch and that too in a much reduced time frame. This eventually involved less re-work time on the activities he completed and the same also applied when he reached home. He became more comfortable in fulfilling the needs of his wife as he used to keep some time analyzing what he needs to do in the evening. Though this looks simple but it comprises of a very important principle of Time management ie. to identify “Best Time” to perform an activity.

So for every problem that seems un-solvable it needs some basic principles to be applied, viz. to “Segregate Difficult Jobs” from easier ones, to identify the “Best Time” to do things, to make sure “Conducive Environment” prevails, to try and “Combine” activities of similar kind Do we think? Oh if you are a human! Let’s see why we do it. Human brain is always in the process of thinking. Thinking is defined as a method by which our brain synthesizes a guided path to approach a solution to a problem considering the pitfalls involved in it.

There are different types such as Critical, Logical, Creative, Convergent, Divergent, Inductive, Deductive, Closed and Open type of thinking. These types can be appropriately be used at different situations such as in personal life, Jim could have very well used Logical, Open, Creative and Critical thinking to deal with his wife and as far as his managing his professional life, mostly Critical, Deductive, Inductive, Convergent types could have been used.

When we think about something, we should actually try to think in a better way and should try to segregate thoughts so that we move close to a possible solution. This is a good example of how to think about your thinking while you are thinking. Usually such types of personal enhancements lead us to become a better thinker. To a great extent, critical thinking is the ability to detect and analyze the assumptions underlying the actions, decisions, and judgments in our lives. A good way to detect and analyze our assumptions is to analyze the issue by consultation.

A recent workplace example that I came across was about my team lead, who happened to cherish lot of good qualities in me but refrained to do it in team meetings. My opinion about him proved to be a fallacy when actually after consultation I came to know that he has a habit to do it so as to lead a team that could produce results for him, that ultimately help him to move forward in the organization’s competency levels. There are some thinking barriers to identify and understand a problem and its potential solution. A possible issue faced is getting confused with many thoughts.

Another is to make a simple issue very hard by presuming it to be hard (with a youngster, while giving math exam). Also a majority of people come across an issue of inferiority complex while solving issues. To say they already have it in their heads that they won’t be able to do it. So while we take a stride to move out of these issues, for me, some of the critical thinking tools or techniques we can use in explaining problems, their solutions and other decision-making opportunities to others are, to create mind maps, personal effectiveness and positive thinking.

In mind maps we create a diagram that helps us to represent words, ideas, things we perform and other items that are mainly responsible elements in a problem. This helps us to jot down the connected concepts and to list them out to come across a possible solution. Another effective technique is to enhance thinking capabilities by practicing personal effectiveness. We live effectively, eat nice, enjoy group discussion, encourage responsibilities, etc. and attain a position where we think of a solution in a multi faceted way. This also then leads us to think positively about a problem solution and even though we are far from the solution.

Thus every problem solving looks like another milestone towards achieving success. References • Readings: o Learning Problem-Solving Concepts by Reflecting on Problem Solving Eleni Stroulia and Ashok K. Goel College of Computing Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 30332-0280

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