Friday, 25 April 2014

Critical #skills define performances across multiple fields

Critical learning/reading/living is an acclaimed skill. With the internet becoming a global content delivery and discussion forum, this skill has become increasingly important for knowledge creation, filtering out crap and manipulation, or simply in order to try and construct your own voice in your own field of interest. As my Personal Knowledge Mastery class facilitated by Harold Jarche moves forward, this is my next reflective exercise. For last weeks topic was on: challenging ideas and why this is a good thing.
This process of constructive, critical action as an interesting journey that fits my current "where do I go from here in my personal and professional life", as such combine my PhD, with a military training option, and a Cate Blanchett interview mentioning doubt and self-reflection. It all fits together in my mind :-)

And for those looking for some great and well-grounded critique on TED talks, look at what the wonderful Audrey Watters writes on the subject (in short: TED talks are about flashing (entrepreneurial) ideas, not getting them questioned - thx for the link Harold!)

PhD journey and becoming more critical
Being critical is also a key aspect of any PhD or research project. Knowing which terms you use, why you select certain methodologies, whether they stand the test of critical analysis, what weaknesses/strengths they have. Looking back at when I started with my PhD I can see how I have strengthened my critical skills. The verbs I use, the arguments I make, the data I collect and how I analyse that data, everything is scrutinized and rightfully so, as this turns simple actions into conscious, meaningful acts. And in order to enhance these critical skills, feedback from colleagues and supervisors is more then helpful. This was not new to me, as I used it to evaluate eLearning and mobile projects in the past, but really improving that skill will have a profound effect on my future evaluations, and understandings. A clear gain from my PhD journey. 

The use of people trained in being critical in the military
In the PKM course an example from the military is given reflecting on the "Red Team University", a university which trains critical people to be send out into the field and use their critical skills to improve field actions and strategies (so those people question the military staff in order to strengthen tactics), here is the excerpt:. 

The school is the hub of an effort to train professional military “devil’s advocates” — field operatives who bring critical thinking to the battlefield and help commanding officers avoid the perils of overconfidence, strategic brittleness, and groupthink. The goal is to respectfully help leaders in complex situations unearth untested assumptions, consider alternative interpretations and “think like the other” without sapping unit cohesion or morale, and while retaining their values.More than 300 of these professional skeptics have since graduated from the program, and have fanned out through the Army’s ranks. Their effects have been transformational — not only shaping a broad array of decisions and tactics, but also spreading a form of cultural change appropriate for both the institution and the complex times in which it now both fights and keeps the peace.
Andrew Zolli: HBR 26 Sept 2012 

Cate Blanchett and personal critical analysis as a means to grow in one's profession and life
When watching an interview for the Screen Actors Guild with Cate Blanchett on her performance in Blue Jasmine, in the end one of the questions from the public is on self-doubt and reflection. Although Cate Blanchett has performed numerous times on both theater and film stage, she clearly defines doubt and critical thought as defining her expertise, as fine-tuning her performance. A nice interview.