Five Techniques to Develop Critical Thinking

There are many techniques in developing critical thinking. Critical thinking is much more than a concept, it is beneficial and applies to every decision making in our daily life. It is a real-life model that you can use to build up efficient and successful problem-solving skills. You will be amazed at how much these new skills can benefit you in the workplace, in your personal life, and more. And here are the five techniques you can use to become a better decision makers. 

Technique #1: Root-Cause Analysis.

Root-Cause Analysis or R.C.A. is a systematic process for identifying “root causes” of problems or events and an approach for responding to them.

In R.C.A., you need to find out the cause of why the event happens. You’ll usually find three basic types of reasons:

  • Physical Causes – tangible, material items failed somehow (for example, a car’s brakes stopped working).
  • Human Causes – people did something wrong (for example, no one filled the brake fluid, which led to the brakes failing).
  • Organizational Causes – a system, process, or policy that people use to make decisions or do their work is faulty. For example, no person was responsible for vehicle maintenance. Hence, everyone assumed someone else had filled the brake fluid.

Technique # 2: The S.M.A.R.T Approach

The S.M.A.R.T. acronym stands for:   

SMART is a useful tool that provides the clarity, focus, and motivation you need to achieve your goals. It can also improve your ability to reach them by encouraging you to define your objectives and set a completion date. SMART goals are also easy to use by anyone, anywhere, without the need for specialist tools or training.

Technique # 3: Cause and Effect

Cause-and-effect is a philosophical approach to understanding why things happen the way they do. This approach requires a fundamental assumption that there is a reason, or an explanation, for an event’s occurrence. A cause-and-effect philosophy provides a powerful motive to organize your observations and to search for root causes so that you can begin to control the events that affect your life. 

Technique # 4: Mind Mapping

A mind map is a graphical way to represent ideas and concepts. It is a visual thinking tool that helps structure information, allowing you to better analyze, comprehend, synthesize, recall, and generate new ideas. Mind mapping is a great way to visually capture and expand basic brainstorming. And it can be colorful and fun.  Put the primary problem in a bubble in the middle of a blank page or whiteboard. Off of that middle bubble, draw a line to another bubble that represents an essential characteristic of the problem. Off of that characteristic, draw a line to another bubble that represents possible causes for that characteristic.  Check out my mind map below (You can create your free mind map @

Technique # 5: Ask an Expert

This is probably the simplest of all of the techniques – on the surface of it.    First of all, it assumes you know an expert on the subject that your problem most affects. Then it believes that this expert is readily available or at least available within a  reasonable time frame.    If those circumstances are in place, then go for it!  This is a great way to get either a different perspective on the problem or confirm opinions and build relationships with your colleagues and the experts in your environment.

Critical thinking applies to your everyday life. But of course, for the technique to be effective, you need to have an open mind. These techniques will not work if you do not accept the input from others. This is another practical approach to clear thinking. It is difficult to think clearly about an issue if you have already made up your mind about what you will do regarding that issue. Finally, watch this short clip from TED-Ed, it presents 5 tips to improve your critical thinking.


Copeland, B. (n.d.). SMART goals: how to make your goals achievable. Retrieved from

Dodd, W. (2012). Train Your Brain: Build a Framework for Clear Thinking. Retrieved from

EduPristine. (2018 August 3). Root Cause Analysis [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Hirotsu Ziemski, K. (2014). Tools and Techniques for Critical Thinking – A Quick Reference. Sugar Grove, IL: Ally Publishing Group

Roberts, J. (2018). Critical Thinking  How to Guide your Life with Good Decision Making and Problem-Solving Skills. Retrieved from

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Len Peralta

About the Author

Len Peralta is the creator of LCM Digital Training. Her expertise focuses on soft skills namely Communication Skills, Leadership, Critical Thinking and Entrepreneurship. Follow her on Twitter @peralta_len