Much more than critical thinking

We can blame Socrates for the insight that one cannot depend upon those in ‘authority’ to have sound knowledge and understanding. A proponent of evidence, objective analysis and reasoned judgment, he established the importance of asking deep questions that probe profoundly before we accept ideas as worthy of belief.

It’s good in theory but left to itself, our thinking tends to the biased, distorted, uninformed, and often prejudiced. Yet, the quality of our life depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated.

Organisational biases, history and groupthink compound the problem. The people who created a problem are going to defend their choices, bureaucracies compete internally for resources, winning on the power of the presentation rather than the value of the argument.

Whether it be a new initiative or a review of one underway, traditional processes see a position paper developed and staffed for comment. It is then argued and challenged from differing positions until it either fails or a consensus is found. A drive to mediocrity through conflict.

There are alternative approaches that deliver better outcomes faster, without the angst. Our approach is based on work done at the ANU and now a commercial product. It is based on evidence and data, sufficient to form a sound hypothesis. It embraces and addresses objections, including opinions and experience, making sure they are heard.

The hypothesis is tested with both reasons and rebuttals embraced, not debated, supported by evidence and opinion – one typically having more influence than the other. But not always – choice and judgment is the responsibility of leadership. It requires courage to make such choices in the face of uncertainty, better done supported by rational and defensible analysis.

Our approach makes it safer to be courageous.

It’s also faster, and produces more complete reasoning, and allows presentation in an understandable way.

Our Projects

Facilitating complex decisions rapidly

The problem: Our public sector client had received advice, through an external review, that a critical piece of hazardous storage infrastructure was no longer safe to use. The recommendation was due, in part, to the natural decay of the facilities through underfunded maintenance, and a change in the local land use that had seen the surrounding […]

Gaining value in a commodity contract and deal negotiation

A government client sought to purchase telecomms services on behalf of itself and 50+ partner agencies, across 120 countries. When does a commodity contract become something more? Objective: To help the client clarify its evaluation process, prioritise its requirements, and negotiate a sustainable deal which would succeed for both parties over the long term. Kiah approach: Look […]

Sweating the asset – a public sector approach to allowing commercial use of a facility

The problem: Our public sector client operated a bulk fuels facility located alongside a public port. The facility, of several million litres, was a strategic facility for the client and provided a fuel reserve (in case commercial supply lines were interrupted). The client recognised that to continue operating the facility, would need specialist skills that were […]