Critical Thinking for Managers

Skills Cafe

About This Course

“Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way.” Linda Elder. 

Thinking is fundamental to human existence. However, thinking can be subject to biases, prejudices, influence, agendas, and misinformation. Critical Thinking is like yoga for the mind– it is a disciplined approach towards improving the quality of thinking by applying rigorous standards on how the mind selects, processes, analyses, argues, and finally arrives at well-reasoned conclusions. It is a self-directed and self-disciplining process.


  • Critical thinking quiz.
  • Curated reading material.

Day 1 —

Skill Drill 1: What Makes Us Poor Thinkers. (2 hours)

This session is driven through a virtual board game where participants understand the difference between Slow and Fast Thinking. They also identify the biases and fallacies that impact thinking and judgement.

Part 1: Cognitive Biases.

  • Confirmation Bias: The tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses.
  • Conformity Bias: The tendency to behave like those around us, rather than using our own personal judgment.
  • Status Quo Bias: The preference for decisions that maintain the current state of affairs (status quo).
  • Sunk Cost Fallacy: The tendency to continue a behavior or an endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money, or effort).
  • Recency Effect: The tendency to recall the items or experiences that were presented most recently presented to us.
  • Availability Bias: The tendency to let an example that comes to mind easily affect decision-making or reasoning.

Part 2: Deterministic Thinking and Probabilistic Thinking.

This session is driven through a series of short games. Participants understand the difference between Probabilistic Thinking and Deterministic Thinking, and why we need to prioritize Probabilistic Thinking. 

Skill Drill 2: Building a Critical Thinking Mindset. (2 hours)

This session is driven through a series of short group processes. Participants explore the following tools and concepts:

  • Avoiding jumping to conclusion using the ladder of influence.
  • Understanding the circle of competence.
  • Practicing intellectual humility.
  • Developing mental models.
  • Developing sound arguments.

Day 2 —

Skill Drill 3: Tools for Critical Thinking. (2 hours)

  • Explore – RCA using 5 Whys.(30 minutes)
    How do we get to the root cause of anything? The “5 Why” is an iterative questioning technique that uses a sequence of Why questions to identify the root cause of a phenomenon. This session is led using a case study and a virtual group process executed through Mural.
  • Explore – RCA using Socratic Questioning.(30 minutes)
    Socratic questioning is a form of disciplined questioning that can be used to pursue thought in many directions and for many purposes. Some of these purposes include: to explore complex ideas, to get to the truth of things, to open up issues and problems, to uncover assumptions, to analyze concepts, to distinguish what we know from what we do not know, to follow our logical consequences of thought or to control discussions. This session is led using a case study and a virtual group process executed through Mural.
  • Explore – RCA using Fish Bone Diagrams. (30 minutes)
    A problem can stem from various causes. How can we precisely track down the reasons for imperfections, variations, defects, or failures? The Fishbone Diagram is an effective tool for teams and individuals to zero-in on the root causes of problems. This session is led using a case study and a virtual group process executed through Mural.

Skill Drill 4: Tools for Decision Making. (2 hours)

  • Explore – Decision Matrix. (30 minutes)
    Once you have identified the root causes, you can start to develop targeted solutions. However, real-world problems can have many possible solutions. How can one choose from several similar options? This is where the decision matrix acts both, as a problem-solving and a decision-making tool.
  • Explore – Decision Trees. (30 minutes)
    What does one do when they have incomplete information? This is where the decision tree becomes a go-to tool for Managers. The Decision Tree is a decision support tool that uses a tree-like model of decisions and their possible consequences, which include chance event outcomes, costs, and expected utility. This session is led using a case study and a virtual group process executed through Mural.
  • Explore – First Principles Thinking. (30 minutes)
    First Principles Thinking is a method of problem-solving in which you break down a problem to a set of ab-initio (fundamental) truths and assumptions, and then work your way up from there. This process can lead to new approaches, ideas, and ways of solving tough problems. This session is led using a case study and a virtual group process executed through Mural.

Additional Tools and Topics on Data Driven Decision Making. (Requires additional time)

  • Pareto charts.
  • Scatter plots.
  • Control Charts.
  • Data histograms.


  • 2 x post-workshop online micro-simulation.
  • Learning nudges on days 2,5,10,15.

Program Evaluation.

  • Post-workshop feedback.
  • Post-workshop micro-simulation scores.
  • Learner stories: short stories articulated by learners about finding real-world applications of the concepts taught during the workshop. These stories can be captured in the form of a blog or vlog.


Learning Objectives

Understand the Fast and Slow thinking modes of the brain
Understand common biases that stop us from thinking critically
Appreciate the critical thinking process
Improve quality of arguments and decisions using critical thinking processes
Learn tools of critical thinking for managers


  • No prerequisites

Target Audience

  • Managers and Leaders
Duration 8 hours

Material Includes

  • Critical Thinking Guide
  • Workbook

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