The Business Skills Handbook Thinking and Memory Skills Week 13
Reading Recommended text: The Business Skills Handbook Horn, R. London: CIPD 1st edition, 2009 ISBN: 1843982188 Chapter 13: Thinking and Memory Skills(page 317)
Lecture Outline • develop a clear conception of what thinking is • recognise the different types of thinking and where to use them • developing a clear understanding of how memory works • developing a good memory
Learning Objectives • be able to recognise and use different types of thinking • develop a range of techniques to improve memory
What is Thinking? • ‘I did it without thinking!’ We have all probably said this at some stage in our university, social or work life. It is often said when something goes wrong; when there is an unexpected outcome. Many of our daily actions are performed without thinking.
What is Thinking?  • This is not a problem. Indeed, if we had to think extensively before we did ‘things’, we would get very little done. This raises two questions: • How careful should we be before allowing actions to become routine? and • How do we know when we should be thinking and not behaving in a routine manner?
What is Thinking?  • Once you have thought about this, you may come to realise that most of our daily actions are performed in a routine manner. Routine is a powerful controller of behaviour.
What is Thinking?  • So thinking can be patterned and routine, but there will be times when patterned, routine behaviour will not be suitable. Real thinking will be needed when you encounter: • a difficulty with normal patterned behaviour – what you normally do does not work any more • a new or unfamiliar situation – you have no experience to call upon or the normal patterned behaviour does not work in that situation • a changed situation – something has changed and requires a change in behaviour.
What is Thinking?  • When we are confronted by a situation, difficulty or problem that we have not experienced before, we will need to engage a ‘thinking process’. Your ability to think in an appropriate way and develop practical and effective solutions is a very valuable skill.
What is Thinking?  • Thinking takes time, so although you may concentrate on solving a problem, the solution may not readily come to you. You may have experienced this when you strain and strain to solve a problem, either academic or practical; you then give up and do something else and then wondrously wake the next morning with a solution.
What is Thinking?  • Thinking is the purposeful and conscious action of considering. When the conscious work is finished, the unconscious mind will carry on. Effective solutions often come from hard, purposeful, conscious thinking and leaving the problem for a while (time).
What is Thinking?  • Thinking may be required to solve an academic problem, such as an assignment. It may be required to solve a practical problem, such as poor team performance. In business these two elements are always connected. Academic problems need to be solved with reference to practical outcomes for business.
What is Thinking?  • Practical problems need to be solved with reference to academic theory. Let’s move on now to think about the different types of thinking you can employ in solving problems.
Different Types of Thinking • When you look at these different types of thinking you may feel they are all the same or very similar. Clearly, they are all examples of thinking. But, you will need to recognise the fine-grain differences between these ways of thinking.
Different Types of Thinking  • An indicator of an effective learner or manager is that they will be aware of and able to control their thinking. So if at first these ways of thinking make no sense then persevere because with time (like thinking) they will stand out clearly as different ways of thinking.
Different Types of Thinking  • There are more ways to categorise thinking and more categories of thinking than can ever be useful. The following sections categorise thinking in ways that I think are useful in business.
Different Types of Thinking  • Practical thinking focuses on the processes of business. How in practice does the process of business happen? The underlying data for practical thinking is observation. The skilled manager can observe and diagnose a problem.
Different Types of Thinking  • The key criteria of practical thinking are experiences. A manager’s experience provides an extensive library with which to compare the present. Practical thinking is also logical process thinking. This is the ability to link one process to another in effective ways so that a process is effective.
Different Types of Thinking  • Over time managers build up mental models of what a good business process will be like and they judge current processes by reference to those mental models.
Different Types of Thinking  • Convergent thinking is a cognitive process bringing information and thoughts to a common point. It is integrative in that it brings known things to one point. It is effectively a condensing process of bringing together a synthesis of ideas. This type of thinking might be used when there are lots of ideas and opinions but very few agreed solutions.
Different Types of Thinking  • Divergent thinking starts from a common point and moves outward in a creative way to increase the diversity of thought. It is essentially creative in that it moves from what is known towards new ideas and perspectives. This type of thinking might be used with complex problems that have proved hard to solve for lack of ideas.
Different Types of Thinking  • Critical thinking is convergent thinking that assesses the claims of something. This was covered extensively in Chapter 10.
Different Types of Thinking  • Inductive thinking is a reasoning process that starts with the parts and cognitively works towards the whole. This type of thinking is most often seen in qualitative research where parts of a problem are researched and then the researcher argues how the parts create the whole.
Different Types of Thinking  • Deductive thinking is a reasoning process that works from the whole to the parts. This is often seen in quantitative research where the whole of something is researched and the explanations are then made about the parts.
Different Types of Thinking  • Evaluative thinking is thinking concerned with judging the value of something. It is closely tied to critical thinking and was extensively covered in Chapter 10.
Different Types of Thinking  • Comprehension thinking is the cognitive process of understanding something. This process is often a case of understanding writing or situations. The techniques of comprehensive thinking are visualisation, contextualising and practice.
Different Types of Thinking  • In visualisation we make visual in our minds the ideas we read on paper. We imagine how the idea would take place. Drawing on paper or creating the image in your mind is an excellent way to comprehend something. We can also comprehend something by placing it in a familiar context.
Different Types of Thinking  • Finally we comprehend by ‘trying out’ or practising. If we use the idea of speed reading, all three techniques could be useful. We read about speed reading then imagine how it will happen; we place it in context by thinking, ‘I could use that idea here or here’; we will comprehend the idea better when we try it out.
Different Types of Thinking  • Memorising thinking is covered later in this chapter. It involves using strategies and approaches that allow the recall of information.
Different Types of Thinking  • Reflective thinking involves careful and consistent thought about what you know and believe. The reflection requires that you weigh up the reasons for your beliefs. It also requires that you change your thinking dependent on the reasoned analysis of a situation or belief. Reflective thinking is the basis of all change and improvement.
Different Types of Thinking  • Investigative thinking involves thinking and analysis of things that are incomplete or unclear. We could call this ‘detective’ thinking because it involves piecing together actions that have taken place. You will need to adopt this mode of thinking when investigating critical incidents at work. Managers often need to investigate some sort of failure, accident or complaint.
Different Types of Thinking  • Social thinking concerns the emotions, beliefs, actions and thoughts of others. In most social situations you will have developed social thinking from an early age.
Different Types of Thinking  • But, conscious social thinking is required by managers who must not only take the views, perspectives and desires of others into account but must also demonstrate that those views have been taken into account. Without active social thinking managers can easily overlook the perspectives of smaller groupings in their team or workforce.
Different Types of Thinking  • Creative thinking involves measures and techniques that inspire new ways of thinking and acting.
Memory • Memory is an important part of academic and business life. You may at the moment think your memory is not very good: ‘I can’t remember a thing.’ Understanding how your memory works and developing some helpful memory methods will soon improve your memory.
Memory  • The most important reason to improve your memory at university is to do well in examinations. But improvements for this reason will also help with other university tasks and will certainly help you at work. It is not always your ability to recall facts and figures that is important; it is often that you need to recall where you can find those facts and figures.
Memory  • Modern computing can certainly help here in that organising information has never been easier. Well-organised information is also easier to retrieve and easier to remember. So part of having a good memory is to organise information in ways that are easily retrievable. In business, the ability to remember your customers and their preferred purchases and some relevant personal facts is vital.
Memory  • If you are in sales your customers will buy more from you if they think you know them personally and care about them. So how would you remember the details of each of your customers, their buying preferences and some personal facts?
Memory  • Modern handheld computers provide the answer. All the information you will need to successfully manage the sales relationship can be held on these devices. You only have to look up the detail five minutes before you make the sales contact. But you still have to be able to remember the detail for the length of the meeting.
Memory  • Let’s look at the nature of memory by considering what is easy to remember and what is hard to remember. I doubt you have any trouble remembering: • the names of family members or friends • your birthday • how to read and write • knowledge from school • stories from your past • skills, such as riding a bike • routines and habits.
Memory  However, you might have more trouble remembering: • things that you don’t want to do • things you believe will be difficult to remember • information that you consider to be boring or trivial • changes to your daily routine • things you did when you were tired, bored or unwell.
Memory  Forgetting things can have some unpleasant effects: • embarrassment, frustration or anxiety • a reduction in self-confidence • feelings of being stupid • avoiding participating in things – withdrawal • apprehension once we have experienced the inability to remember.
Memory  How memory works • Memory is a process and that process is believed to follow these steps: • You perceive something by sight, sound, smell, taste or feel. • This information is filtered by the sensory registers and committed to short-term memory (STM) (also known as working memory). • STM can hold this information for up to 30 seconds and there is a limit of about 5–9 items that can be held in STM for most people.
Memory  • If you choose to you can commit it to long-term memory (LTM); this is done by: • rehearsal • coding • Imaging. • You need to retrieve it from LTM to STM if you want to use it.
Memory  • As an example let’s consider how you perceive information in a lecture using two different scenarios. Scenario 1 • In the first lecture you are given extensive handouts that cover all the slides shown and the related information. You sit passively listening to the lecturer and at the end of the teaching session you can remember only one striking visual thing that was shown to you about halfway through the lecture.
Memory  Scenario 2 • You are given no handouts and have to listen carefully and make your own notes. You do this by creating a visual mind map of the ideas presented. An hour after the lecture you can recall most of what was taught.