Critical thinking – make it your mission critical

What is the challenge? Why is it happening? How can I solve it? These were some of the questions I pondered as I struggled through writer’s block while attempting to craft my professional development goals.

So I stopped. Sound familiar?

I gave myself the headspace, reflected and sought viewpoints from others. It was only through that collaboration that I was eventually able to establish a clear set of ambitions and achievable steps to work towards them.

It worked only because I took time out for some much needed critical thinking. Hopefully that sounds more familiar!

At Bunch, we pride ourselves on being able to think critically. We love to challenge our own assumptions and each other’s. It helps us all make smarter decisions and solve problems more effectively. Everyone has the capacity to be a great critical thinker but the process can be easily overlooked when times are busy.

One drizzly lunch time, the Bunch team got together to explore the topic of ‘Critical Thinking’ and how we collectively apply it to solve challenges for our clients. We were all in agreement that it’s a vital skillset for each of us to embrace, develop and support.  

So what is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is smarter thinking. It’s a mode of thought that allows you to continuously assess ideas, opinions and statements (literally anything) from all angles. It helps us to understand connections, solve problems and make informed decisions. It’s a creative, intentional and adaptable process for evaluating evidence objectively and deciding how best to move forward. Stopping to reflect on what goes into this type of thinking can be invaluable to the success of a project.

What model should I use?

A useful tool to get you started on your critical thinking is the University of Cambridge and Macat model, affectionately referred to as PACIER:

  • Problem-solving
  • Analysis
  • Creative thinking
  • Interpretation
  • Evaluation
  • Reasoning

As part of our workshop, I posed a conundrum to the group, known as ‘Lost at Sea’. You have 14 survival items to rank in order of importance and as a group it is up to you to use the PACIER skills to determine that order. Split across two teams, Bunch’s chosen rankings were very different but it gave us a great opportunity to explore critical thinking in practice. The exercise highlighted the different thinking processes, points of view and collaborative nature of our teams. It allowed us to recognise these important skills in each other and even identify ones we want to develop further.

If you and your colleagues are looking for a fun, challenging and meaningful activity, we recommend you try this exercise out. And once you have, ask yourself and your colleagues whether you’re creating the time, headspace and opportunity to think critically and solve challenges in the best possible way?