A common frustration of new business school students is that professors are trying to teach them “what to think” about business. There are certainly some instructors who make this mistake, but this is not the objective of faculty. Rather, the goal is to help students develop critical thinking skills, and lateral thinking skills.
- Critical thinking is established when we use a criteria for making decisions and analysis (the words critical and criteria both derive from the Greek word kritērion, defined as a means of judging).
- Lateral thinking is the process of problem solving through creativity and non-traditional approaches. Imagination and possibilities are emphasized over step-by-step approaches.
Most people will have a natural inclination towards one of these approaches. Therefore, when instructed in a style using the opposite approach it might feel as if they are being taught what to think. In reality, they are being taught how to think critically and laterally. The ability to blend critical and lateral thinking is essential to career success, since it is a key element in seeing things from different perspectives.