How to build critical thinking skills

How to Build Your Team’s Critical Thinking Skills

October 30, 2019

Critical thinking ranks among the most in-demand skills for job candidates and leads to better life and job outcomes.

Value of critical thinking skills

However, both educational institutions and employers have found it challenging to develop these skills in their people.

To help managers and their teams develop these skills, our team at Zarvana turned to three research-backed models: The Halpern Critical Thinking AssessmentPearson’s RED Critical Thinking Model, and Bloom’s Taxonomy. Using these models, we developed the Critical Thinking Roadmap, a framework that breaks critical thinking down into four measurable phases:

  1. Execute: Translates instructions into actions and does what is asked
  2. Synthesize: Identifies what’s important & combines to create new insights
  3. Recommend: Determines sensible path forward, taking into consideration alternatives
  4. Generate: Produces new thinking that illuminates previously uncharted paths

For each phase, we identified five milestones that chart the course to developing the skill so you can determine where your skill level is now:

Critical thinking roadmap

And we’ve identified development exercises for each milestone so you know how to get to the next level:

Critical thinking development exercises

It’s time to reject the notion that critical thinking is either an innate gift that can’t be developed or a skill learned only through experience. Download the full toolkit and begin using this systematic approach to lead team members (and yourself) through the four phases of critical thinking.


This is an excerpt from the article “A Short Guide to Building Your Team’s Critical Thinking Skills” we published in Harvard Business Review.