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From Bryan Greetham
By learning to become a smart thinker you will learn to generate new ideas, create new concepts, design solutions to problems, produce new insights, assess risk and come to your own decisions. The fact is we all have these abilities, but for most of us this potential lies untapped. Just think how many ground-
This book and this website will teach you how to produce these ground-
The problem for all students
The problem is that employers around the world are reporting that they are being inundated with applications from graduates with good degrees, but who cannot think. The root cause of this is that universities have never accepted teaching students to think as their primary obligation. Instead, they have preferred to teach students what to think, rather than how to think. And now, with more intense competition between universities to attract students with promises of higher grades, the pressure to prepare them for exams by teaching them what to think has made the problem even more acute.
Consequently, students develop just the lower cognitive abilities to understand and recall, not the higher cognitive abilities to analyse and create new concepts, generate their own ideas, synthesise ideas to reveal new insights, design solutions to difficult problems, assess risk and come to their own well-
In its 2012 ‘Report on Skills Gaps’ UNESCO declared that most employers found graduates were simply ‘not employable’. The sort of skills they lacked, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s report of 2012, were the ‘higher level creative skills’: the abilities to think creatively and conceptually, and to make good decisions.
Consequently, more and more employers are resorting to psychometric tests to select graduates for interview. It is estimated that up to 75 per cent of medium to large sized organisations and 95 per cent of FTSE top 100 companies are now using them during the recruitment process, rather than relying on a conventional degree to choose the right candidates to interview. They report that a degree is no longer a good indicator of someone who has the right thinking skills.
In this book you will find simple methods that you can learn to help you tackle these tests successfully, along with examples you can try for yourself. Then, once you’ve done these, if you visit the website regularly you will find new problems posted each month. Before you know it you will find that your skills are developing and your confidence is growing.
Most students at university have heard of the importance of critical thinking, but what is smart thinking? Critical thinking teaches us the value of critically evaluating our arguments and those we read and hear to see if they are consistent: that their conclusions are validly drawn from the assumptions that support them and there are no undisclosed assumptions manipulating our thinking. We learn to identify hidden values and recognise the logical fallacies in arguments.
We also learn to evaluate the evidence on which an argument is based: is it reliable, is it relevant and is it enough to support the conclusions of the argument? Likewise, we learn to evaluate the language used to develop the argument to see if it conveys the ideas accurately, clearly and consistently.
It’s vital that all students leave university with these skills, but the crucial difference between this and smart thinking is that on its own critical thinking will not create one new idea. When we think critically we work with what we are given to identify its weaknesses, assess its reliability and decide whether it can be repaired or needs to be discarded altogether. In contrast, smart thinking is all about generating new ideas, creating new concepts, designing solutions to problems, producing new insights, assessing risk and coming to your own decision.
These are the skills that employers around the world are desperate to find. They are also the skills you need to tackle psychometric tests successfully. Like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs, you will be able to open up new insights and ways of seeing things nobody else has seen. You will learn how to solve problems you never thought possible and how to make the right decisions, when others are overawed by uncertainty.
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Most of us have no doubt wondered as we log into Facebook or pick up our smartphone how it is that people like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs can come up with such deceptively simple, yet stunning insights and new revolutionary concepts that so transform our world. From Relativity to the iPhone, from the Polaroid camera to YouTube and Ebay these are simple concepts, simple ideas, so why can’t we think of them too?
Well, the answer is you can! You can come up with your own revolutionary concepts that transform the way we live and do things. It’s not difficult. All it takes is for you to learn to think differently, to become a smart thinker. In the process you will not only improve the quality of your work at university beyond what you thought possible, but you will develop the key employability skills that employers around the world are desperate to find.