Category Archives: critical thinking

Unpacking Diversity in the Organization: Implications for Critical Thinking

When we chat with co-workers and friends, it’s no suprise that different backgrounds among those in the group can enrich the conversation, introducing a depth that is difficult when everyone speaks from the same perspective. This is the notion of diversity in social interaction. It’s the case against echo chambers and group think.

But I think we should also ask: How deep does this go, and what are the forces at work?

Thanks to Jamie Billingham for teeing up 3 diverse perspectives on this:

  • Ev Williams (@ev of Twitter fame, now CEO of Medium) talks on the importance of ‘identity (or cultural, or gender) diversity’ to drive healthy, balanced discourse within a company [read more]
  • Scott E Page (a professor at U.Mich with expertise in emerging field of complexity) talks about the academic basis for diverse thinking [read more]
  • Jamie (a fellow #cdna collaborator, @jamiebillingham) offers the alternative of cognitive diversity, expanding on the others with an eye toward the implications [read more]

Add it all up, and there’s a strong case for all aspects of diversity in our organizations, as it shapes our collective mindset and influences our culture. The need may be most acute when it comes to deeper, more analytical thinking in groups.

At one level, it’s intuitive. People thinking differently generates more ideas.

To me, what’s NOT as intuitive, especially in the critical thinking context, is the importance of establishing such diversity in our organizations and teams, and the difficulty of sustaining it. Among collaborators, the forces of commonality create a comfort zone that often trumps diversity. Sameness is simply easier to manage. What are some of the factors that can make ‘nuturing more difference’ easier? Let’s have a look:

  • Q1. Types of Diversity. Why do sociology and psychology portray diversity differently? Which view is more common?
  • Q2. Recognizing Difference. We often work alongside others like ourselves. Do our shared filters and behaviors mask diverse views? What is the leader’s role?
  • Q3. Paradigm Blindness. Kuhn wrote we often can’t see past our own professional or world views. Does embracing diversity change this?
  • Q4. Managing Diversity. What are the most difficult challenges to overcome?
  • Q5. Culture. When and how does culture enter in?
  • Q6. Are there more Frames of Reference? We’ve focused so far on two major views: sociology and psychology; are there more?

As input to Q6 and to fuel a deeper dive on how we think and how we filter, consider the following graphic from The DNA of Collaboration, Chapter 3.

Shifting Frames of Reference.  Disciplines that introduce cognitive diversity, based on different paradigms of how things work, how problems are organized, and where we focus.

Shifting our Frames of Reference. Disciplines that influence cognitive diversity, based on different paradigms of how things work, how problems are organized, and where we focus.

 

Let’s discuss in our next #cdna chat, Monday 4/20/15, at 10pm ET.

Most every 3rd Monday evening a group of collaborators comes together at hashtag #cdna for a conversation on the dynamics and potential of critical thinking. Join us. We’d love your input.

Chris (aka @sourcepov)


Many Dimensions of Collaborative Learning: Where Are the Synergies?

Even on our worst days, we’re learning.  It’s a skill hard-coded within the human DNA for survival.  But in the context of education and business learning agendas, perhaps we can raise the stakes a bit, if ask this non-rhetorical question:  how could we get better at learning how to learn?

As we attack this in the early months of 2013, I thought it might be useful to look at how learning is approached in a variety of different disciplines, to see where we might find common themes.  This graphic was designed to get us thinking … and talking ..

I’ve attacked many of these topics in The DNA of Collaboration, especially as they pertain to Culture.  Over in the #K12 #ECOSYS chat community, we’re about to do a deeper dive on the K12 Advanced Learning Models.

In the meantime, lets keep the #CDNA conversation at a higher level for now, to explore the broadest synergies.  As we look across disciplines, what might we gain?  Here’s the chat format for the next several weeks at #CDNA, starting MON JAN 7 8pET.

To get started, we’ll walk down the chart, one row at a time, with these questions:

  • Q1.  What are the most common, fundamental, intrinsic drivers of human learning?
  • Q2. Who or what are the most important catalysts and motivators for this learning, over time?
  • Q3. What can we learn from traditional classroom methods across K12, HigherED & Business?
  • Q4. What advanced learning methods may be most interesting in this analysis?

I hope you find the frame as intriguing as I did, when we started talking about it on Twitter in December.  Interesting comments sprang from both my own sourcepov blog and our own new CDNA G+C Community “Collaboration DNA”.

I hope you’ll share your feedback with us, as we explore each impact vector (row) and discipline (column) in turn.

Our goal?  To rigorously explore the possibilities of Learning How to Learn.  You might say we’re using critical thinking to better understand and raise the bar on .. okay, you guessed it .. our capacity for critical thinking.

See you online.

Chris


It’s Your Move: Finding Balance in the Collaborative Flow (Ch.17)

In the game of chess, every move brings important decisions. Is it best to advance, and stake a claim to new ground? Or to retreat, consolidating gains? Taking the lead, or letting the person across the game board set the pace?

Collaboration is fraught with decisions like these, where we must decide how to engage, and then revisit those decisions again and again, making adjustments.

Much depends, of course on our intentions and the context of the situation at hand. Are we there to share and inform, or to learn? Ultimately, isn’t it some of both?

In the context of effective team dynamics, I believe we need a balanced strategy, finding the optimal place between extremes, sharing and learning in useful ways. It’s about letting the circumstance of your knowledge, the topic, and the chemistry of the group tap new, “emergent” possibilities.

As we continue to explore the dynamics of effective collaboration in The DNA of Collaboration, “Balanced Objectives” (Ch.17) asks us to consider the importance of a balanced approach, and to understand how to get there.

In our chat SAT Nov 17 11aET (click here to join), let’s unpack it like this:

  • Q1. Explore the shifting dynamic of teacher v. learner in a collaborative context.
  • Q2. As in chess, collaborators balance opportunities to advance v. consolidating gains. Can we switch often and be productive?
  • Q3. To achieve collaborative balance, must our roles keep shifting between leading and following?
  • Q4. Is there an optimal balance between structured process and a more open, creative flow?

Hope this helps bring the balancing act of collaboration a bit more into focus. It’s critical thinking at the micro level, making decisions in the moment. When it comes to solving problems in teams, paying attention to dynamics like these pays huge rewards.

Challenge me with your thoughts and ideas .. we’re all here to learn!  I’ll see you online!

– Chris Jones, author, aka @sourcepov


Collaboration DNA: Contrarians and the Desire to Control (Ch.11)

Many connect the pursuit of critical thinking to the behavior of a group of stakeholders that I’ve come to call contrarians but we need to tread carefully on the semantics. There’s a valuable role for challenging assumptions, taking an alternative view, even a healthy debate. Those who help drive such thinking I call ‘challengers’. It’s a key role that I outline in Ch.14.

Contrast all that with the dynamic in unhealthy debates. These are,  sadly, all too common.

Contrarians play only to win. They argue for the sake of arguing. They don’t  listen, and don’t respect the views of others. These behaviors can halt the flow of collaborative insights, often becoming a death blow to team dynamics. In Chapter 11 of The DNA of Collaboration, I unpack this important area. Let’s unpack some of the major drivers:

  • Q1 How do respect and healthy boundaries influence our ability to collaborate? 
  • Q2 Broadcasting, talking over others and controlling the floor spell trouble. What can be done?
  • Q3 When emotions rise, we stop thinking clearly .. have you seen this happen? What do you do about it?
  • Q4 Arranging for up-front Opt-in to rules & participation changes the mix. Is self-selection a game changer? 

We’ll discuss this today at 11am ET at Twitter hashtag #cdna.  I hope you’ll join us!

– Chris Jones, author, @CollabDNA aka @sourcepov


Learning to Learn: Is Critical Thinking in your Organization’s DNA? (Ch.20)

Unless you are a detective, a teacher or a literature buff, you probably don’t give critical thinking the time of day.  Getting to the core of issues and understanding hidden implications is hard work.  Most of us seem never to have the time, or when we do, we lack the energy.

But what’s the long-term effect when we turn away from deep reflection as a way to navigate the world’s challenges?  Has reading with a discerning eye become a lost art?

And do our schools still give it the needed focus?

These and other aspects of critical thinking are woven throughout The DNA of Collaboration. It is an essential thread in the process of solving problems, not to mention the important work of framing our ideas in the first place. In the book, I touch on the core elements in Chapters 1 and 2, expand on them as we unpack collaboration, then pull all of the dimensions together in Chapter 20, making the case for why deep discernment skills are so important.

Let’s define ‘critical thinking’ in the learning context as: ‘deep & thorough analysis on many dimensions of problem or idea’.

With that as a foundation, let’s look  at several key aspects of this in today’s Virtual Book Tour conversation, 12/15 11aET:

  • Q1. Is our ability to discern fact from opinion losing ground?
  • Q2. Experts approach & define #criticalthinking differently. How do OD & KM treat this, compared with EDU?
  • Q3. Where does #criticalthinking show up in the workplace?
  • Q4. Where & when in school must #criticalthinking be tackled?
  • Q5. The 21st century may need a dose of Descartes or Kant; what can we still learn from classic philosophy?

To me, collaborators must be hungry for answers. Critical thinking must be a part of our learning DNA. It’s how we’ll survive the 21st Century. I hope you’ll join us as we start to discuss the why and the how.

See you online. To join the conversation, click here.

– Chris Jones, author, @sourcepov


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