Critical Thinking Workshops

Our critical thinking workshops are designed to help participants evaluate information critically and use sound approaches to decide and take the best course of action.

Making decisions is a tricky business, even when our chosen answer appears with ease. The infinite variables, the weighing of possibilities and making a commitment to a chosen path; they are all subject to bias.

To be a confident decision maker we need to be aware of the biases we operate under, the restrictions our prejudices set on us. Do we favour one product development option over another because it is easier to execute, rather than the best option for our company? Are we keen on an idea because it would further our own interests, or show results more immediately?

Our critical thinking workshops put all this in practical terms, providing participants with a clear methodology and approach to enable them to think critically even in the most complex, confusing and complicated situations.

“A highly interactive session, full of energy, insightful ideas and new ways of working. I have no hesitation in recommending Creative Huddle.”

– Jane Hague, Excel London

Recent clients include:

A different perspective

Sometimes we get so tied up in our expertise and experience that we find it difficult to see things objectively. We can’t see the wood for the trees. Our hard-earned and highly-valued experience can actually lead us to follow our previous patterns, making us more risk averse and preventing growth and change. 

And gut feeling – that little wink of instinct we call on when reason is proving difficult – is no better. If we choose to trust it, we are ignoring all available knowledge. And isn’t our instinct only valuable if we challenge it occasionally?

When we make ourselves stand back for a minute and consider things from a different perspective we can start to become aware of the assumptions we make subconsciously. In our critical thinking workshops we look at why we fall into decision making patterns, even if they don’t serve us well, and learn how to apply techniques to reach the best conclusion.

A decision-making spectrum

We can place the two extremes of decision making on a spectrum: over-optimism and risk aversion. Over-optimism is particularly likely if an idea has been brewed in an insular way, with planning and hopes clouding projections. Adding an outside view – even as simple as looking at competitors’ similar projects and their obstacles – can be grounding.

Risk aversion is human. We are designed to stick to tried and tested methods, to stay safe and avoid danger. A little wariness can be good for us, adding a degree of realism to our expectations, as long as it is in proportion to the project in hand. Hiding from any form of change or denying opportunities that arise because they seem complicated or out of our comfort zone is pure madness. We shouldn’t ignore the chance to show initiative and innovation when that’s also what can get us ahead.

In strategic decision-making, the tools for bringing these two extremes into line involve broadening your perspective. It’s useful to make three different projections: the worst, moderate and best outcomes. Voicing your fears and putting your hopes down on paper can make you more realistic in the middle ground.

Vanishing options and mental models

It might be that you can’t get past a single, gleaming idea. In this case, simply remove it from the equation. What do you come up with as a result? What looks like your best alternative? Chip and Dan Heath call this ‘vanishing options’ and it works by forcing perspectives that had been previously overshadowed by the popular first choice.
Worried you favour a certain colleague’s ideas? Try blinding. Teachers who ask for work to be submitted unnamed are removing identification bias, or any prejudice related to previous work by that individual. Orchestras have seen female membership increase from 5% to 40% since this became standard practice in the 1970s.
Assessing your ability to think critically can have immediate benefits and provide you with tools and techniques to apply to decision making on any scale. In our workshops we introduce a great range of these tools – some people call them mental models – to help participants understand how the world really works, and how to bring this to bear on their own projects.

Perfectly sized, and in your comfort zone

These workshops work best for teams of up to 12, however they can accommodate up to 20 if you have a spacious venue.

Our critical thinking workshops run for 90 minutes or three hours – long enough to explore all the necessary concepts and learn some useful, practical tools; short enough to enable you to get all the day’s other important tasks done too.

If you have a suitable space within your offices, that’s great. Ideally, a room with natural light, plenty of space to swing a cat, not too many tables, flipcharts and a projector / large TV screen. Alternatively we can suggest some great creative spaces.

We’ll bring along all the necessary materials, including post-it notes, good quality pens, notepads, worksheets, sweets…

Our workshop with Creative Huddle achieved all our aims. It offered a chance for the team to think in different ways using different tools, some of which they have already put to use in other meetings. The second part of the session was a great practical exercise where the team agreed an action plan for our next steps that were solution driven. It was also brilliant to have someone independent of the team which freed me as manager to be more involved, and the team to be more confident about speaking up. Thanks Creative Huddle!

Jane Stewart, England Athletics