Re: Ceasing to Question LO2943
Tue, 26 Sep 95 17:19:34 EST

Replying to LO2921 --

Ted Forbes comments that:

"We see one of our institutional goals as facilitating the development and
growth of critical thinking skills in our students. This is an
interesting challenge because, IMHO, most MBA students view their two
years as an opportunity to acquire "tools" that will help them master the
"science" of business. They show up expecting that an MBA is all about
discounting cash flows [...clip] However, there are those of us (and
certainly notall of us) here on the faculty that, like Mariann Jelinek,
are convinced that long term success is not about finding answers, but
about learning how to frame and then ask the right questions."

Ted, I find your comments about the formulaic orientation of some MBA
students very insightful. In a previous time in my career, I was president
of a critical thinking skills company, Learning to Learn. I have always
believed that critical thinking skills rests on learning how to frame the
right question.

Now I find myself helping to assess the logic skills of incoming MBA
students at one of my client institutions. And, as Ted points out, I am
coming to realize that the "inability" to form a good question may come
from at least two sources:

1) my not knowing how to recognize a good question, or

2) a fear of revealing my own position, my assumptions and my reasoning by
forming a question that I might actually have to answer.

My experience tells me that the second source may be the stickler. Most
native speakers can learn fairly easily to form good questions. Often the
best questions are the simplist. In fact, the problem with really rigorous
logic is that it is simple, and in its simplicity, it tends to lay our
assumptions and errors of reasoning open to view. Complex questions and
the convoluted reasoning they engender can offer us a comforting "fudge
factor" we need to hide behind.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with the science of management.
Learning how to discount cash flows, manage inventories, etc., gives MBAs
a concrete set of tools to apply to specific business problems. But
without the framework of critical thinking skills, these scientific skills
become the basis of rigid thinking.

Thanks, Ted!

Marilyn Darling