by Lisa Pustelak, Employee Development Specialist, LEDGE Enterprises

In this world of instant gratification, we need to be extra careful of the way we think. Critical thinking skills continue to decline as we get used to a ‘quick fix’ for everything. ‘Same day service’ is a popular mantra and creates a way of thinking that isn’t always conducive to long-term sustainable solutions.

I use the phrase, “you can’t change something you’re not aware of” almost daily. If you’re not aware of whether or not you are applying critical thinking every day in your business, you may be going for the ‘quick fix’ instead of finding the root cause of an issue. This way of thinking can put a bandage on a problem temporarily, but just like a physical wound that’s covered up and not attended to, the problem may continue to resurface or even get worse. One of the most important critical thinking skills is keeping an open mind. We get very protective of our opinion and current way of thinking. When we choose to open our mind, we can see things from another perspective.

In the manufacturing industry, often times problems are identified with either a process or an employee and we tend to be quick to blame a person when something isn’t working. Maybe we need to look at the process instead. It’s possible we are not providing the person with the right tools, enough knowledge, or… the process leading to their work may be where the problem lies.

Whether you decide it’s process or people, applying critical thinking skills will help you move out of the ‘quick fix’ thought process and into a long-term sustainable solution mode. Just like we develop habits of doing things a certain way, we also develop a habitual way of thinking. When you constantly tell yourself you have too many things to do or we’ve tried to fix this a million times, this thinking becomes a habit.

Choose to make a habit of slowing down and concentrating on the problem at hand with an open mind. If it’s a process that’s not producing the desired result, asking “why?” only one time probably isn’t enough. Take the time to focus, ask lots of questions, and dig deep to find the true root cause. The time you spend applying critical thinking now will save you time addressing it again later.

Choose to become a critical thinker. Albert Einstein said: Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think. When you choose to change your habit of thinking in quick fix mode, you will create long-term sustainable solutions for your business.

Lisa Pustelak is an Employee Development Specialist who helps manufacturing companies increase sales, improve customer service, and boost employee morale.

Side Note: A Critical Thinking workshop is scheduled for March 13th in Meadville with instructor Lisa Pulstelak. Click here for details and to register.