Critical thinking is the ability to effectively analyze information and form a judgment. While IT leaders can certainly benefit from critical thinking, many are unaware of this skill or how to properly use it.
Critical thinking is imperative for IT leaders, says Skip Benamati, a professor of information systems and analytics at Miami University. “IT tends to be at the heart of both innovation and creative problem solving in organizations,” he notes. “This often finds the organization looking to IT to think through issues and opportunities that are unique and less familiar or addressing issues and opportunities that have not been addressed before.”
Critical thinking is essential to IT leadership because leaders sit at the conjunction of four distinct worlds: data, technology, business processes, and people. “An IT leader has to think logically about how to integrate these four distinct capabilities into a reasonable response to organizational challenges,” says Michael Williams, an associate professor of information systems technology management at Pepperdine University.
Critical thinking helps IT managers escape everyday constraints while maintaining an innovative and bold vision. “Critical thinking is essential to be an IT leader,” Williams says. “Without it, you may be able to succeed as an individual contributor in a variety of IT roles, but you will not likely be viewed as a leader who's able to apply logic and reason to the organizational and technological challenges that are a part of the modern enterprise.”
Thinking critically helps an IT leader become open-minded, a keen listener, and an observer, says Doyita Mitra, an AWS solutions architect. She notes that the methodology also helps IT leaders to stay curious, ask the right questions, and dig deep into problems. Another benefit is viewing issues from different perspectives by engaging with peers and other leaders to solve problems.
Solutions to complex IT problems are not black and white, observes Sydney Buchel, a senior consultant with cybersecurity and compliance frim BARR Advisory. “IT environments vary, based on complexity, size, the data being processed, unique risks, and integrations with other platforms,” she says. “This means that making key decisions for your IT environment cannot be impulsive -- it requires gathering, analyzing, and conceptualizing information to ensure thoughtful decision-making.”
Buchel points out that IT leaders must be able to think critically to make the best decisions for their organizations while evaluating constant changes to their environment, implementing new systems or third-party tools, and meeting regulations and compliance requirements.
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