December 19, 2014

Tear It Apart And Put It Back Together Again: Critical Thinking

Every business begins with ideas. But it’s the “have to dos” that get done.

the thinker

When you know that you:

  1. “have to” build your business in order to get your solution to the world (and pay your bills doing what you love)
  2. “have to” sing your heart out in order to stay on the show (and continue to pursue your dream)
  3. “have to” improve your communication skills in order to keep your job

Then you do the work and you tend to find all kinds of creative and effective solutions.  But when it’s just a wish or a passing thought, then you might not do it. And your team is the same way. Only the things that they/you/we “have to do” get done.  So what do you do about it?

Create an environment where you “have to do” the things that you say you want to do. Create that environment for your team as well.  Deadlines and time sensitive rewards can establish an action culture among your team members. But also pay attention to the way they think and make the most it.

Here are 3 kinds of thinkers to watch out for:

1) Dream Thinkers

We say you have to “think outside the box” in order to innovate, but for dream thinkers it’s possible that there never was a box and never will be.  They think across lines and ideas in any industry is fair game to them.

For this person the sky truly is the limit. It’s the kind of mind that creates other worlds in movies like Avatar or Star Wars, or fresh ideas on work environments, team management or product development. But new worlds are not created by dream thinkers (or dream thoughts) alone.

2) Critical Thinkers

The kind of person that tears an idea apart, and then rebuilds a better version of it is a true problem solver. In business if you intend to be effective, then you have do more than discuss all the reasons why it doesn’t work.  The next step is to do the work to solve those critical concerns.

An effective critical thinker forces your business dream to face reality which all dreams have to do at some point. It’s up to you to use that reality check to test and improve on your idea, and to push your team to participate in that process.

Reality checks are a good thing, unless you allow the next type of thinker to take over.

3) Fear Thinkers

Fear Thinkers are often driven by the pain of potential failure and the uncertainty of the unknown. But let’s back up a minute. Fear is a common emotion that most of us experience repeatedly, especially as we a face the risk and excitement of the new or the unknown. But the goal is to use fear as a warning sign and an opportunity to get ready and to improve your product or skills.

The issue is when the fear controls your decisions. It’s a problem when the fear manages your life and your business, instead of you managing the fear.

When it’s time to stretch ourselves — to expand our dreams — to try something new, we feel the fear. But the dream thinker in you (and on your team) believes you can do it anyway. The critical thinker within (and on your team thinks you better weigh the facts and get ready. The fear thinker is fine with things the way they are.

Understand what you’re dealing with and keep it moving. After all, your dream, your business, your team won’t build itself.


The Thinker Photo via Shutterstock

6 Comments ▼

Jamillah Warner


Jamillah Warner Jamillah Warner (Ms.J), a poet with a passion for business, is a Georgia-based writer and speaker and the Marketing Coordinator at Nobuko Solutions. She also provides marketing and communication quick tips in her getCLEAR! MicroNewsletter.

6 Reactions

  1. I’d add a corollary to #3, the lack-of-fear thinker. This person does not appreciate the positive qualities of fear and makes decisions without any thought that they’ll fail. All too often, they do.

    Great article, though, Jamillah!

  2. We all need something to drive us in this business and I suppose that something is different per individual. Fully agree that a realized dream cannot exist without effort and diligence. Wonderful article!

  3. The Fear Thinker reminded me of Jim Collins new book “Great by Choice”. He talks about how exemplary leaders have a quality of “productive paranoia”. That is, they plan for and expect the worst but in a way that moves them closer to their goals. I think this quality is something like a synthesis of the fear thinker and the critical thinker.

  4. Thanks Tomas, I’ve never heard of Jim Collins “productive paranoia” before (but I think I have it). Will check this out.

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