Critical Thinking

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In the book “Asking the Right Questions, A Guide to Critical Thinking” M. Neil Browne and Stuart M. Kelley discuss the ten steps to critical thinking. In the following pages I will apply these steps to a memo that was sent to Mr. Robert Shaw of Triad Insurance Company of Indianapolis and discuss them in detail. The memo was from Ms. Denise Khali, Vice President of Human Resources. D. Khali, personal communication, October 04, 2010. Step 1: What are the issues and conclusions?

The major issue discussed in the memo is that Ms. Khali does not agree with the training ideas that have been presented by Mr. Clarke, Director of Operations. She goes into detail in her memo discussing the reasons why she feels the training program is inappropriate. These various reasons will be highlighted in Step 2. Ms. Khali’s conclusion is discussed in her final paragraph of the memo. She states that the training program will be ineffective and costly. She also concludes throughout her memo that the company already has successful leaders and therefore the training program is unnecessary. Step 2: What are the reasons?

Ms. Khali gives several reasons for her having an issue with the training program that is being requested by Mr. Clarke. Her reasons pertain more to why the company is already successful without a training program. The memo states that the company has been successful without a training program. She further demonstrates this fact by stating the company has been in business for 50 years with a growth rate of 12% annum. The memo also brings to light that none of the current twelve senior executives has been to a training program. Step 3: What words or phrases are ambiguous?

Throughout the memo there are several phrases and terms that are ambiguous. Ms. Khali states in her memo “Two well-respected research studies that support the notion that personality traits can predict leadership were published in the Journal of Applied Psychology and in the Leadership Quarterly”. While it is fine for her to use this as a supporting argument it is very vague, especially the term personality traits. She should have gone into more detail as to what personality traits were discussed in the studies. That term is too open ended; there are so many personality traits from good ones to bad ones it is difficult to determine what traits she is referring. She also referrers to tall physical stature, what defines a tall physical stature? She should have been more specific and included a height range. The last ambiguous term used in the memo is in the final paragraph when of the memo she refers to the theories of the Aspen Institute. She is assuming the reader of the memo knows what those theories are. If she was going to reference the institute in the memo she should of more clearly defined what the theories of Aspen institute highlight. Step 4: What are the value assumptions and conflicts? What are the descriptive assumptions? Values can be either descriptive meaning they touch on how the world should be or they can be value assumptions meaning they touch on how the world was, is, or will be. One value conflict in the memo is when Ms. Khali questions if Mr. Clarke is motivated by the liberal notion that all citizens of a free nation have the right to pursue education and can achieve anything they desire. This assumption doesn’t even apply as the liberal thinking ion this idea typically applies to public education and continued education in the form of a trade school, university, or college. She is assuming that Mr. Clarke is motivated by this reasoning. She also touches on personality traits, which would be a descriptive assumption. She insinuates that she would base her hiring in the future on these leadership traits. One value assumption that she makes is stating that leaders are born not made. She uses the fact that her senior leaders in the company didn’t receive training to support this...
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