Critical Thinking Decisions Are Made on the Spot – Tip #277

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And now for something completely different.

When faced with the question, “What is a problem you face at work?”  People may respond with, “We are unable to reduce our response time for customer support. ”  “This is the third time this quarter we’ve had to service that pump.” or “The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.”  

Not uncommon…feel free to add your own answer.  However, Jose Andres’s answer goes something like this:  There’s just been a hurricane in Houston – how do we get there and begin providing meals?

Jose Andres is actually Chef Jose Andres, leader of the non-profit World Central Kitchen.  They provide a vital lifeline in disaster areas (from earthquake-ravaged Haiti to a war zone in Ukraine), serving more than 60 million meals to people in desperate need. 

One might think this operation takes an immense amount of planning, coordination, and organization.  Um…not really.  Here is Chef Jose’s work in a nutshell:

“We say we don’t plan – it is because every hour you are planning is an hour you are missing being on the ground feeding people.  You can be driving, and you may decide to make a right turn or a left turn, and you may not know if you are taking the correct path.  But let me tell you one thing, you will only be able to turn right or turn left if you are moving forward.”

The plan evolves in real-time.  Critical thinking decisions are made on the spot.  Make a mistake?  Learn from it and correct it the next day.  The priority for them is moving forward.  Always moving forward.

Obviously, not every challenge is faced by simply “moving forward,” but every challenge does require critical thinking.  Sometimes critical thinking looks like trial-and-error experimentation, other times it means focusing on second and third-order impacts of the decisions being made.

Critical thinking is a vital skill, whether you’re a chef, a CEO, a crane operator, or a customer service representative.  To up your game (and in turn, the game of those you work with), sign up for our Critical Thinking for Modern Learners Online Certificate Workshop.  In this workshop, you will learn how to help learners and workers solve problems and create solutions.  This isn’t about pushing more content.  No, it’s about prepping people with the tools and skills they need to make decisions in real-time that lead to high-value outcomes. 

Come to think about it, that isn’t a whole lot different from what Chef Andres is doing.


Jonathan Workman

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”

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