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A List of CRITICAL Thinking Techniques

I have re-posted this article from a website that I have since closed down.

Here is a list of Critical or Convergent Thinking Techniques to help give you less ideas. A list of creative thinking ideas is here.

Evaluation matrix

  • Your evaluation criteria is one of these. Running your idea through a table, scoring it or possibly even weighting the scoring.

P.O.I.NT (pluses, opportunities, issues, new thinking)

  • A great way to deliver feedback about an idea.
  • Follow the anagram in order for it to work as designed
  • Great for less than ten choices

Storyboarding

  • The Disney Company was the first to start storyboarding their movies.
  • Now it is used by designers to show how end users would interact with a particular product/solution/service.
  • Essentially it is a series of pictures/images that depict someones experience of something (i.e. interacting with your potential solution)
    • You start with the last storyboard first. I.e. A happy end user having their problem solved perfectly.
    • Then do the first storyboard. I.e. The end-user experiencing their current problem
    • Then fill in the middle with how the end-user uses your solution to solve their problem.
  • It’s kind of like your creating an advertisement for the product you haven’t built yet.
  • Disney used it when creating their theme parks, which could be why there is so much going on while you are waiting to get on the ride.
  • Further Reading

Targeting

  • A good technique if you know what criteria a perfect solution fulfils.
    • (It’s a good idea to have your evaluation criteria done by this stage.)
  • The perfect solution (or something that meets all the criteria becomes the bullseye.
  • Then ask the group about how close the ideas/design options come to that perfect solution.
  • Once ranked you can ask why people in the group gave that idea/solution the ranking that they did, to get everyone’s feedback.
  • You can also score like an archery target and use those numbers to help pick a solution.

Mock-Up

  • Use a cheap and inexpensive material (cardboard is good) to create the possible solutions.
  • You can get better feedback from people looking at a mock-up rather than a just a drawing.

Solution Enactment (rehearsing and getting feedback from others)

  • In some situations it’s possible to role play. Examples in other fields are a dress rehearsal, or a manuscript.
  • Designers can use this to see how the end user might interpret a product.
    • It could be used well with mock ups. Generating feedback from potential end users. It may also be a good idea to create different parts and interchange them into the design to get more detailed feedback.

How How Diagram

  • Similar to a brainstorm, make your problem/challenge the center of the map
  • Then ask how you would go about solving that problem
  • Then ask how again to keep getting at the actionable steps that you can take to solve the problem (you can do this many times)
  • Further Reading

Further Resources

This list would not be possible without:

The Creative Thinkers Toolkit – from the great courses. It covers both creative and critical thinking techniques. You can also get it on Audible here. I recommend it as it’s a great resource and insight on creative and critical thinking.

Wikipedia