“For CEOs today, it’s all about achieving growth and efficiency through innovation.  It’s not about product innovation so much anymore as about innovating business models, process, culture and management.”  ~ Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO

You might attribute critical thinking and innovation as a strong skill set for leaders within an organization, but that’s an expectation from employees of the 21st century. Many employers are making it known that for a talented candidate to join their org they are seeking people who are driven by critical thinking and innovation. You don’t need to be in a leadership position to be an outstanding contributor. Learn to become an innovative leader within your team, find opportunities to think out of the box, and thrive and shine at your current work.

What does critical thinking  mean?

Critical thinking by some is being cited as the number 1 workplace skill you must work on now. In an interesting analysis by TalentLens titled  Critical Thinking Means Business: Learn to Apply and Develop the NEW #1 Workplace Skill By Judy Chartrand, Ph.D., Heather Ishikawa, MA, & Scott Flander

“When more than 400 senior HR professionals were asked in a survey to name the most important skill their employees will need in the next five years, critical thinking ranked the highest – surpassing innovation or the application of information technology. Such a response reflects how the nature of work – and the skills required – have been changing dramatically.”

According to a Pearson’s Research Report by Emily R. Lai:

“Critical thinking includes the component skills of analyzing arguments, making inferences using inductive or deductive reasoning, judging or evaluating, and making decisions or solving problems. Background knowledge is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for enabling critical thought within a given subject. Critical thinking involves both cognitive skills and dispositions.”

Biran Tracy in a relevant article 7 Qualities of Creative Thinkers says:

“The most important part of  creative thinking is your ability to generate ideas. .. Every single time you originate a new idea, write it down, make a plan for its implementation through creative thinking and then take action, you are behaving like a genius.”

Now that you’ve heard from the experts what critical thinking really means; what does it mean to you or how will you define it?

How can you showcase such qualities?

Though it is not always possible to come up with some exemplary examples on how you have used critical thinking in your past job or career but if you are reading it now, it certainly is a good idea to try it now and it might prove useful in the future. How has critical thinking and action helped you solve a problem or come up with a better solution for a project you’ve worked on.

What does innovation  mean?

Looking around for the appropriate definitions of innovation here’s what I’ve found that really talks to me:

Quoting business.gov.au:

innovationEveryone can innovate.
Innovation generally refers to renewing, changing or creating more effective processes, products or ways of doing things.
For businesses, this could mean implementing new ideas, creating dynamic products or improving your existing services. Innovation can be a catalyst for the growth and success of your business, and help you adapt and grow in the marketplace.
Being innovative does not mean inventing; innovation can mean changing your business model and adapting to changes in your environment to deliver better products or services.

Successful innovation should be an in-built part of your business strategy and the strategic vision, where you create an environment and lead in innovative thinking and creative problem solving.

How can you showcase such qualities?

No one can tell how to be innovative, there’s no better solution than what Leonardo Da Vinci told us hundreds of years ago:

“Stand still and watch the patterns, which by pure chance have been generated: Stains on the wall, or the ashes in a fireplace, or the clouds in the sky, or the gravel on the beach or other things. If you look at them carefully you might discover miraculous inventions.”


What does innovation mean to you or have you seen it implemented at your workplace?

Top 10 Skills for the successful 21st century worker – An Infographic via Univ of Phoenix