The intellectually disciplined process of actively and skilfully conceptualising, applying, synthesising, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by observation, experience, reflection, reasoning or communication, as a guide to belief or action, then working the the follow-on process of working through the details of the problem often by mathematics or systematic repeatable operations to reach a solution or solutions



Competency Level


Knowledge (Theories, Ideas & Concepts)

Through Professional/Personal Study Gained Through Experience
  • Beyond the Box Thought Leadership as a means of approaching problems in new, innovative & efficient ways through the ability to notice subtle details which allows teams to maneuver business situations more tactfully through dissection, manipulation, analysis and then feeding the decision making loop
  • The ability to decipher the meaning out of a lot of data and information, identify trends and relationships that would otherwise go unnoticed and the skill to ask the right questions in the first place to collect the right data in the first place
  • The intellectual disciplined process of actively and skilfully conceptualising, applying, analysing, synthesising, or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action [Source: U.S. National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking]
  • Problem solving process involves finding solutions to difficult or complex issues through a number of organised steps or stages, or using adaptive ad hoc methods utilising both analytical and creative skills

Skills & Application of Knowledge
in Real World Situations

Together with Responsibilities/Accountabilities
  • Critical observation is the ability to notice subtle details or gain them through analysis which allow people to manoeuvre situations more tactfully. It requires the ability to objectively gather data about situations whilst sifting out the irrelevant details, so focus can be applied to what is meaningful and what has value. Language, taxonomies and naming can be an impediment to critical observation especially when facing new situations that haven’t yet been documented. Day to day management and leadership roles require this skill to then apply thinking to bring direction, suggest next steps, bring sanity and calm during times of chaos.
  • Observation is learnt through participation via processes of sensing, perceiving and thinking in order to see details that may hold the key to unlocking problems, arriving at insights or acquiring new knowledge. It requires people to take time out, to provide their full attention, suspend thinking in an mode of listening, removing barriers and distractions, and to view the situation through fresh eyes or new perspectives. The correctness of the outcomes often depends on the clarity of our perceptions.
  • Problem solving involves both analytical and creative skills together with an analytical ability, lateral thinking, initiative, logical reasoning and persistence. My PhD required all these elements in order to generate the mathematical models that I generated and tailored to predict real world behaviours. The initial answers were not necessarily the correct ones, so I had to go through a series of iterations and generate new approaches in order to come up with solutions that provided the valid answers to the problems.

What does Critical Observation & Problem Solving Involve? 

Selected Challenges & Approaches

Together With lessons Learnt
  • With some much information now readily available at a touch of a button on the internet (1 billion websites, the 4 biggest storage companies have a capacity of 1,200 petabytes and 2 million emails sent per second), users need to practice critical observation to determine what is valid and useful for their needs. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure” (attributed to Deming or Drucker), and digital companies have always known that they were competing on how well they understood their data. Measure and manage effectively, because it can allow for better predictions and smarter decisions. Big data is all about data volume, data velocity and data variety, in both structured and unstructured forms. Data driven decisions tend to be better decisions, however leadership and company culture need to move away from HiPPO (Highest Paid Person Opinion) towards technology, talent management in terms of decision making.
  • Companies are often living in an ‘illusion of knowledge’, often drowning in data but have an information drought due to poor insights and failing mechanisms to turn data and information into intelligence. Companies lack what is needed to generate real insight through methodological rigour, relying on mere observations without any overt actions or outcome attached. Insights are not collections of data, observations or customer requests. True insights come from viewing the world in new ways or through new perspectives or discovering the underlying motivations that drive people’s actions and then create a recognisable fundamental human truth or viewpoint. Not many companies recognise this.
  • It is too easy to jump to the first conclusion that comes up. Effective problem solving is a process that initially identifies all the issues, collates everyone’s interests, then lists the possible solutions as options, evaluates the options based on certain criteria, down selects to either one or more options, documents the agreements and processes, and finally agrees the contingencies, monitoring and evaluation. Being able to discern between valid arguments and no valid ones for the context, environment and culture you are operating is, is critical for the systematic approach that is needed to resolve problems.

Selected Achievements & Successes

Together with Any ‘So What’ Statements of Insights
  • “If I want to get there, I wouldn’t start from here’ is situation I often come across where companies are trying to make good by thinking of the next steps for where they are at the moment. Sometimes you need to take a zero-based thinking approach or think what the idealised situation will look like in 5 years unconstrained by reality and then work back. One particular success involved the rationalisation of documentation into a smaller series of inter-linked volumes, with the intention of making change management and support management far easier through the life of the programme.
  • Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness (Shriven & Paul, 1987). All these elements are being used in my new Code8 business venture.
  • Problem solving is mark of an independent employee or a competent consultant. Having the level headedness and resilience to assess situations and re-assess if necessary. Having the analytical skills, creativity and logical thinking to reach a solution, and if working in a team environment taking this in to consideration as well. Developing architectural solutions in very challenging environments was one example of displaying these skills. Dealing with the unforeseen is what motivates me to overcome barriers and deliver results.

Signup Success

Thank you for registering for our newsletter.

Email not correct

Please provide valid email address

An Error Occured