Technology Has Reduced the Need for Critical Thinking. Here’s How to Get It Back
Critical thinking is the only way that an entrepreneur can begin to understand how their company can solve a problem that no one recognizes.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
One of the hardest things that I've learned as we've been building the curriculum for Radical University is this: people don't want to think. It's the hardest work they'll likely have to do and when they are being asked to step outside of the box, they shut down.
Over forty years, the ideas that have been most popular with my clients have revolved around those ideas that A.) are easily exemplified and B.) thoroughly documented.
You can't blame them - society is structured to like things that can be easily structured, too. Imagine Bill Gates or Steve Jobs going to the bank or the SBA for a loan and describing an operating system, email, or a smart phone in the early 1980s.
You think they'd get approved?
Of course not ... because that loan officer wasn't hired for their great imagination. They were hired to see if this business plan met this actionable, replicable data that exemplifies what we will or will not loan money for.
Entrepreneurs have to dream in that world, bound by norms and suitability, and try to design something "new."
How? That's like being asked to describe the smell of the number nine!
It can be impossibly critical thinking and that is something most of us don't do anymore. When was the last time you did long division? Memorized a phone number? Stretched your brain around a problem, read poetry, analyzed a work of art?
A lot of that is now "done for you" with software or, in our desire to be distracted by social media of mindless programming, we don't think critically about many things anymore.
An attorney may have to be creative as to why his client did (or did not) do something with respect to the law, but most people rely on technology or society to tell them what to think and how to feel.
...And critical thinking is the only way that an entrepreneur can begin to understand how their company can solve a problem that no one recognizes or to design a solution to a minor inconvenience that many are too lazy to see.
If you've ever lived in a major metropolitan area, who thought that anything would ever depose cabs?
Like Uber, or Lyft?
How about throwing things away?
Or reading a book on an electronic device that can holds hundreds of volumes in a case the size of a checkbook?
Yet, as technology has crept into our lives more and more, our ability to see how to integrate that technology in new and varied ways is stymied by that same technology. Why spend time dreaming when you can open up a video game and be transported far away from the crummy job you currently have?
To truly create a Great, Growing Company, one must have a Dream worth growing. I challenge you NOT to waste time fixing (and fixating) on a broken business model but to spend time thinking about what your Dream actually is and then, once you have that, to move that in your Vision, your Purpose, and your Mission for that company. My students at Radical University are doing that today and creating their own company ... and their own future.
Don't let them be the only ones thinking!