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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds It is only through practicing effective thinking that we can master it, merely reading or thinking about it is not enough. There is a cycle of 5 phases that was proposed by Edgar, McCann and McCann in ‘Creative and Critical Thinking.’ This represents a set of steps for applying creative and then critical thinking to any problem. All the steps are not always necessary for every problem but going through them will result in a sound decision. The details of each phase will vary with the problem, but the general principles apply to all situations.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 seconds The 5 phases are as follows: Phase 1, Recognizing and Defining the Problem. Phase 2, Gathering Information. Phase 3, Forming Tentative Conclusions. Phase 4, Testing Tentative Conclusions. Phase 5, Evaluation and Decision. Phase 1, Recognizing and Defining the Problem. Recognition of a problem is the first step in solving it. Many problems are not solved because they are never adequately recognized. the problem should be carefully defined, because this helps to reach correct solutions. Phase 2, Gathering Information. Once you have defined your problem, you should begin to collect all the available information about it. When solving a crime, a detective collects ‘clues,’ both tangible ones like fingerprints and intangible ones such as testimony.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 seconds Similarly, you must collect adequate and accurate information in order to make a sound decision. Of course, the more information you have, the more reliable your decision will be. Phase 3, Forming Tentative Conclusions. When you have enough information, you can begin finding solutions to the problem. The ideas must be creative and it’s important to allow your imagination to go ahead without disturbance from critical thinking. The objective at this stage is to gather as many ideas as possible. The more ideas you have the higher the chance of finding a sound solution. Phase 4, Testing Tentative Conclusions. The objective of this phase is to criticize all the tentative conclusions, and assess their reliability.

Skip to 2 minutes and 26 seconds All tentative conclusions are reached through some kind of inference from by evidence or available facts. A conclusion is only completely reliable when it is known conclusively to be true. For this to be the case, evidence must be completely reliable and and all the inferences form it must be logically flawless. Phase 5, Evaluation and Decision. The objective of this stage is to determine whether you have found any workable solutions. You should assess the reliability of solutions based on the testing done in phase 4. While reliable solutions are important, it is also imperative that we do not dwell in a state of indecision.

Skip to 3 minutes and 11 seconds If evaluation of your tentative conclusions shows that none of them is sufficiently reliable, you should repeat the cycle until you have a sufficiently reliable conclusion for your purpose. Combining creative with critical thinking in the decision making process is a helpful way to reach the best possible decision. Can you think of a time you have done this, whether while making an important decision or simply a small choice in daily life? Share with us the story of how you made a decision in this way, either effectively or not. Could your situation have had a better outcome if you had used this decision-making tool?

Phase of Decision Making

The 5-phase Decision Making Process is an effective tool that combines creative thinking and critical thinking to help we make a decision.

Phase 1. Recognizing and Defining the Problem.

Phase 2. Gathering Information.

Phase 3. Forming Tentative Conclusions.

Phase 4. Testing Tentative Conclusions.

Phase 5. Evaluation and Decision.

Now, it’s your turn to share with us one (challenging) case on how you make the final decision. Would it have a better outcome if you apply this decision-making tool?

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This video is from the free online course:

Using Creative Problem Solving

National Chiao Tung University