Critical Thinking and Continuous Skilling – Changing to KASH from CASH

Dr. Paritosh C. Basu is Senior Professor at NMIMS School of Business Management, Mumbai. He came to know about KASH from one revered Professor of a premier business School of India.

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A professional in his working life always wants to add all possible values to his deliverable. This is possible because of his / her knowledge, application skills and confidence. Critical thinking enables him / her to enhance value additions by redefining his / her own standard and speed. But in return he / she expects adequate compensation. The professional dreams to be CASH rich, which success brings as reward. It is also one of the major sources of motivation. But to most of us the professionals that expectation is insatiable. Achievement of one milestone immediately starts pushing us toward the next.

But the eternal question remains as to how can we keep achieving a perfect blend of successes both in adding more values to deliverable surpassing past standards and keep being enriched with CASH. Just change of one letter can do the miracle and that is changing C with K and make it KASH. Let us examine what is KASH and be rich with it:

  • K= Knowledge – Enhancement of professional knowledge by remaining updated with all possible developments taking place in related field. For this the driver is ‘Hunger’ and the same should be more forceful than hunger for food;
  • A = Attitude –  Transformation from a learned to a learning manager. The professional should continuously go through the process of ‘Introspection’ and rediscover self to identify what he / she should know more and learn to apply and what is the gap.
  • S = Skill – Proficiency in application of knowledge with cerebral analyses of information. Attaining such proficiency will be possible if a professional is always in search of ‘Excellence’ and strives for ‘Speed’ and ‘Flexibility’.
  • H = Habit – Learning, unlearning, and relearning in search of what is the ‘Next in Class’. For this the driver is his / her own ‘Passion’ to first satiate self.

The mantra here is “Our realisations of tomorrow is limited by our questions of today”.

Mere gaining of knowledge and self-development with skills will not necessarily make a man successful. Critical Thinking is absolutely essential to ensure that right knowledge and skills are applied to the right job for the right time with the right intention and at the expenses of right costs. For this the professional needs ability to critically think about every challenging task he / she faces in both working and personal life so that appropriate prognosis is done before planning and execution. Therefore, it is also essential to know what is CRITICAL THINKING. The author agrees with the following age old believes:

Critical thinking is the ability:

  • To think clearly and rationally about
  • What to do and believe towards doing what is believed, and
  • To engage in reflective and independent thinking.

Someone with critical thinking capability and habit is mostly able to:

  • Understand the logical connections between IDEAS and relate it to the problem to be resolved
  • Identify, construct and evaluate arguments for and against all possible ALTERNATIVE solutions that may be applied to solve the problem before choosing the right one;
  • Detect inconsistencies, bias and common mistakes in REASONING so that he / she keeps on achieving improvement in selection of the right solution option;
  • Solve problems with systematic approach and sequential steps allocating responsibilities to team members decided with LOGICAL thinking;
  • Identify the relevance and importance of each idea so that the professional is not ever short of ALTERNATIVES, keep plan B ready and remain flexible and agile to adopt if need be; and
  • Continue to reflect on justifications with one’s own BELIEFS and VALUES so that he / she is never away from etho-cultural and socio-economic values that will ultimately help achieving SUSTAINABILITY.

One can take learning points here from Mahabharata, the great epic of India. Lord Krishna, the great strategist fighting for DHARMA (read Truth and Right) said “Work on your weakness, improve your skills and constantly learn”. During exile the Pandavas, who first lost kingdom and honour and on whose behalf He was fighting, utilized their time to acquire new skills, e.g.:

  • Arjuna the warrior, acquired new weapons and learnt how to use in war;
  • Yudhisthira the eldest brother of Pandavas acquired teachings from various wise sages and learnt the game of dice, his nemesis, and became undefeatable in the game. The story goes on…….

Those newfound skills gave them an edge in the final great battle of Kurkshetra where ultimately eternal truth and right prevailed. We can reinforce the need for critical thinking and applications skills with two small stories.

The STORY of a nine year old boy in a hill station on a wintry morning

The boy was walking with his parents at nine on a wintry but sunny morning through the eastern footpath of the road in a market place. He was covered with woollens but unfortunately lost his cap in hotel. He was nagging with his parents to cross over and walk through to the western side of the road. Both the parents tried their best to convince the boy that there was no point in changing the side as all shops and views of the market place and beauty of far-placed hills were equally visible from the eastern side. But the boy kept on repeating his request. They took him to be intransigent.

Finally, the parents agreed to cross over. Parents suddenly realised the reason. Sun rays in morning hours were blocked by the shops and buildings of eastern side. Going to the other side they felt additional comfort of warmth as sun rays were directly falling on their body. The boy also thought of the same thing but could not properly explain.

The moral of the story is that for meeting challenges of life and solving problems we do not always need great innovative ideas and resources. What we need are critical thinking and application skills. We can derive solutions from the associated environment through our observations and thinking power. We need to first know what resources we do have and whether we have made best use of it. We need to patiently consider our junior’s propositions as they may offer better solutions.

The STORY of two CEOs and their Trip to Jungle.

In a metropolitan city golf club two CEOs, from the same FMCG industry product segment, were having refreshments after completing their games. CEO A told CEO B that we are such good friends away from work place but at office on week days we always think of how to beat each other. They decided to find some way out to stop this cut throat competition through some cool thinking. For this they agreed to go to a neutral environment. B proposed a jungle resort which will keep them away from the familiar environment of business.

B kept a small kit bag with him while suitcases, containing both of their belongings, were there in the hold of the side-open sports vehicle suitable for the ride. On a question from A about why the bag is with him, B answered that it is his habit to keep certain emergency items in person. As they were driving down the deep jungle road and half way through to the resort, they heard the roaring of a wild wolf seemingly rushing towards the car. The vehicle could not speed up due to very uneven muddy road condition giving a probable chance for the wolf to jump in and attack.

A, to his utter surprise, saw B taking out a pair of running shoes from his kit bag to wear. He immediately reacted saying that B will not be able to run faster than the wolf even wearing that and save himself. Pat came the answer from A saying his objective is to run faster than A so that the wolf catches A first and be happy, by which time he would run away safely.

Here again the morale of the story is critical thinking is essential to anticipate and identify risks and take mitigation measures ahead of the challenge is actually faced. There is also an essential need for application skills of the knowledge of risk management. In a competitive business environment one needs to think more critically and analytically before taking decision to move ahead of others.

Time is here and now for all professionals to lead from front for the functional tasks of more Learning, Knowledge Management, Critical Thinking and attaining Application Skills. Being KASH rich will lead us to be cash rich.