In business, you are constantly bombarded with information. You rely on this information to make important decisions. Business acumen requires that you do more than absorb information. You need to think critically to about information and make your decisions accordingly.
Ask the Right Questions
Critical thinking requires you to ask questions continually. You should question people, information, plans, etc. The key to critical thinking is asking the right questions. The questions should:
- Identify assumptions: Is it verified?
- Explore perspectives: What is another point of view?
- Examine evidence: Why did this occur?
- Attempt to understand: What do you mean?
- Consider different implications: Is this important?
For example, a critical thinking question about statistics would be, “Is this source credible?” By asking the right questions, you will weed out useless or harmful information and utilize the information that will help you in your endeavours.
Critical thinking and decision making requires you to analyse different data sets. Organizing your data will make it easier for you to analyse. There are programs that will help you get organised. Data may be grouped together for specific reasons, or they may follow certain patterns. For example, you would want to group financial statements together when organizing data. Once you organize your data, you will see trends emerge as you draw conclusions. For example, market trends will become apparent once you organise your research on external business factors. The trends that you see in the data will help guide and shape your business.
Evaluate the Information
You must always evaluate information and conclusions before making any decisions. You should differentiate between a fact and an opinion by using one of the right questions. You also need to identify information and conclusions for any signs of bias. For example, does a conclusion you are reading consider all of the information available? Even when information is factually based, it may not be relevant to the argument, which indicates possible bias. For example, the fact that it was cold one night does not provide information about the lunar cycle. You need to identify facts that are relevant, substantial, and applicable before you draw your own conclusion from the information presented.
Make the Decision
Critical thinking is useful in the decision making process. You already know how to ask questions and evaluate information. Once you have done both, you have a few more considerations before you make the decision. Once you have evaluated everything, make the decision and act on it. You can feel secure knowing that you based your decision on accurate and relevant information.
- The effects of your decision: How will the decision affect you, your business, and others? Is the effect long term or short term?
- Options: Do you have more than one option?
- Your feelings: Are you comfortable with the decision?
Many people believe you are born with business acumen, which is loosely defined as the ability to assess an external market and make effective decisions. Knowing what is necessary to navigate and create a successful business seems innate for certain people. Fortunately, it is possible for the rest of us to improve business acumen. The right training combined with experience will improve your business savvy. Login to BLMS and take the Enterprise Skills course Business Acumen to further develop your essential business skills.