Thinking Ahead

How often do you see or hear of someone and wonder “What were they thinking?”, or some less gentile variation of that? Too often it seems that there was no thinking involved.

This, of course, got me to thinking … about a training session for current and future group leaders I helped lead over the summer. The purpose of my portion of this training was to demonstrate with my partners an approach these group leaders could adapt and use to teach their teams basic critical thinking skills.

Critical thinking is not negative thinking.  It’s a process of

actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning or communication

Foundation for Critical Thinking

In other words, it’s about reflecting and evaluating information received to transform it into knowledge and understanding.

For this training session our challenge was to not get into the technical – indeed there are whole college curriculums surrounding the subject matter that we could have addressed – but rather engage participants’ “whole person” to recognize and understand key concepts and when, where and how these concepts are used in the real world.

Our demonstration integrated somatic learning and intentional questioning techniques that participants could bring back to their teams to foster critical thinking.  For example, we:

Hands iconTranslated key concepts into simple activities that participants could experience for themselves;

color celebrate iconEngaged participants in group exercises to illustrate how key concepts work in the real world;

color light iconStrategically asked open-ended, focused and integrative questions to encourage mindful reflection and evaluation.


This approach helped participants internalize key learnings because they were forced to think about the material more deeply than a recitation of facts and figures could achieve.  In addition, by modeling these techniques, participates came away with some tools to engage their own teams in generating better insights and decisions.

Lisa Ciota
Lead-IR Advisors, Inc.

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