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If you believe thinking is a skill you’ve thoroughly mastered, a la Rene Descartes’s “Cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am), you may have a second think coming.

According to “The 10 Skills That Will Get You Hired In 2013” (Forbes.com, Feb. 10, 2012), critical thinking was one of the top three skillsets required by 90 percent of the most in-demand jobs. In case you’re wondering, the others were complex problem solving, and judgment and decision-making.

Pop quiz: If you applied now for a hot job that would amp-up your professional creds, you may be confident in your ability to deliver the others. But do you know enough about the concept of ‘critical thinking’ to vouch for your competence on the job – or in your personal life? 

On SAP’s Coffee Break with Game-Changers Radio on March 19, 2014, three savvy experts explored this thought-provoking subject.

According to Professor Mark Battersby, founder of the British Columbia Association for Critical Thinking Research and Instruction, Critical thinking is like running. We all do it, but we can learn to do it better; that’s why we need coaches.” He cited “logical self-defense” as the first step in critical thinking to protect you from succumbing to common fallacies or unduly persuasive arguments. Admit it. You’ve been charmed and persuaded on at least one occasion by anecdotal evidence (“Data is an antidote to the anecdote”), false dilemmas (“Are those really the only choices?), and straw man argument (“Let me be clear – Is this what you meant?”).

Dr. Sharon Bailin, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, and Battersby’s co-author of Reason in the Balance: An Inquiry Approach to Critical Thinking, added, “Critical thinking (also) involves coming to a reasonable decision based on a careful evaluation of relevant reasons and data.” But, she cautioned, there’s more to it. “You need to think about how good the information and data are, and to what extent you can rely on them as a guide … take into account other relevant considerations, e.g., the political context, business environment, ethical issues, human context.”

Deepa Sankar, Director, BI Product Marketing at SAP, observed that critical thinking can benefit groups, as well as the individual. Decision making can be improved via collaboration – critically looking at solutions as a group, which can lead to collective insight … Critical thinking is becoming critical in the age of Big Data.”

If we’ve got you adjusting your thinking cap and you’re curious to know more, listen to the episode on-demand at http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/76481/critical-thinking-path-to-true-business-intelligence. Then let us know what you think.

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