Ability number six: to be hypercritical.

When you search for hypercritical, most of the items that appear are posts like “3 Major Reasons To Remove Hypercritical People From Your Life” and “How to stop being so critical”. Basically, it is unhealthy for any relationship to be always in some kind of a critical state. However, in strategic thinking, it is essential to be able to switch on your hypercritical mind towards your own ideas and to the ideas of others. If you are deciding on the strategy of something important, like a business, there should be a culture where it is okay to be extremely critical about the plans that are made.

The goal is to uncover hypocrisy, manipulation and bias, next to flaws in arguments and solutions. It starts with making sure you don’t jump to conclusions, but delay it to gather more possible outcomes, strategies and ways to approach the problem you’re thinking about.

A couple more thoughts:

  • There is always another perspective.
  • Ask yourself: what would the rational version of yourself do? This question can help you to check if there is a difference between what your emotion-filled self would do versus your rational counterpart. Another question would be: what would [insert your superhero] do?
  • If you’re exploring different ideas, it can be really helpful to record your steps on paper.
  • Keep returning to the goal you want to reach. This allows the discussion and your thoughts to stay centered on your target and it also helps to validate whether the offered solutions really match.
  • Your intuition is a really good source, you should treat it with respect. If you get the feeling something is wrong with a train of thought, there is probably more to research and learn.
  • Dive into the data. Often, arguments are supported by facts. One of the first things you should do is to challenge those facts. Example: “we need to go forward with plan A, it will yield at least 40% more revenue than plan B”. For this statement, you should get to the bottom of this 40%, to be sure it is correct.

To close off: I stumbled upon a great post which covers 9 strategies to grow in critical thinking. If you want to learn more, check it out.

Tomorrow, we’ll be looking into the final ability of this strategic thinking week: being patient.