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Successful Workplaces & Employees

THINKING – Analytic, Strategic, Creative

Analytical (& Critical) Thinking

Strategic Thinking

Creative Thinking


Cognitive Diversity






Yes, “Success!” Success is not necessarily just about what you know, or about technology, or about how much money you earn. Success largely stems from how well you can successfully work with others or vice-versa, how well they can and will work with you.

Primarily, success is about people – that “never” changes! Success is about how open-minded others (people) are to new ideas and new people. Success is also about how collaborative others are to willingly engage with you and you with them.


Successful Workplaces & Employees

So, here we are again, back to success in the workplace – and it does not matter where you work;

  • Private entity,
  • Non-profit or Volunteer (i.e. volunteer firefighter),
  • Federal agency,
  • Small business or
  • County government

Nor does it matter if you are;

  • The first face everyone sees when they walk into the office, the powerful secretary,
  • A Custodial / Sanitation team member,
  • A senior executive,
  • A mid-level manager or even
  • A Gas station attendant

What matters is everyone working towards success to make the organization successful – and of course, you at the same time. Yes, you definitely should be striving to work hard AND working smart to be very successful in whatever you do. You have to realize, even if you do not like what you are currently doing, you should do a great to brilliant job while you are working on your next step forward in a new environment.

People “will” remember you for what you do and for what you did in the past – keep that in mind.

You should be, or working very hard towards being successful – even if it is one of the lowest, menial jobs you can gain employment for. DO A GOOD JOB! It will be rewarding later as, again, people will remember you what you did… And it may do a good bit for your own character building, integrity and ethics.

What about all that thinking I had in the title, eh?

Well, you should be using as many of those capabilities as you possibly can because they all come in handy. And they all are or can be complementary in using that big, wonderful and powerful brain of yours.

Right about here, you are likely asking yourself, “How can that be, how can you, the reader, do all of that various thinking???”

Well here’s the trick, you already can and are doing so – you just do not realize it consciously…

You do not have to be the smartest person in the room to do strategic, analytical or creative (or even innovative) thinking. You just need to have an open mind that it is possible and that “YOU” can do it.


THINKING – Analytic, Strategic, Creative

It is quite possible that you already have had an expansive (very diverse) or extensive (ample) career to date. You just need to recognize what you truly have and set about using it.

Analytical (& Critical) Thinking

Standard definitions:

  • When you think analytically you examine, or think about, the different parts or details of something in order to understand or explain it [1]
  • Critical thinking is a process used to think about and evaluate information and reach a conclusion. Used in this context, the word ‘critical’ is not negative, it merely means that you shouldn’t automatically accept that information is valid, true, applicable or correct. Instead, you should gather the evidence, analyse all aspects rationally and objectively, and with an open mind, so as to reach your own conclusion [1]

Do not take these as the only definitions around; there are many, many variations of ‘analytical thinking.’ It boils down to doing logical and reasoned thinking.

If you have done work that causes you to focus and actively think about what you are doing and what the likely outcomes could be – you are doing analytical thinking. This is not limited or restricted only to Intelligence Analysts or Wall Street investment bankers. This thinking could be accomplished by anyone, anyone who wants to use their noggin and attempt to determine what the possible outcomes could be.

In using analytical thinking and you do not have access to software tools that could aid you (for the following items), you have to use various levels of ‘descriptive,’ ‘predictive’ or ‘anticipatory or prescriptive’ analysis.

  • Descriptive analysis – looking at results and determining what happened and why did it happen
  • Predictive analysis – looking at past data and attempting to determine what could happen or the likely outcomes
  • Anticipatory (prescriptive) analysis – taking gobs (my technical big data descriptor) of data to be predictive AND making suggestions as to what to do with that data, as in – what will happen, when it will happen and most likely, why it will happen with different suggested options for each decision branch

Of course, you can only do so much analysis yourself; it is a matter of the quantity of data coming across your desk with the possible time constraints that goes hand in hand with doing analysis…

Coming back to nuts and bolts, you can do analytical thinking, you only need to look at the data at hand and make rational ‘informed’ generalizations to the best of your knowledge. This is where having that expansive and extensive background kicks in. If you have various levels of experience in multiple areas of work, it can help you reach deeper into your big brain and make better judgments.

You have to go to the basics in doing your analysis of ‘who,’ ‘where,’ ‘why,’ ‘what,’ ‘when’ with all the data you can grab. And in doing this analysis, you have to stay cognizant of all the various biases such as ‘confirmation bias.’ There are many biases and you will have to consciously learn to stay out of the many, many bias traps. For brevity, they are not being listed or explained here – there are a great deal of them, some of which you are quite likely guilty of too…

Strategic Thinking

Standard definition(s):

  • Strategic thinking is defined as a mental or thinking process applied by an individual in the context of achieving success in a game or other endeavor. As a cognitive activity, it produces thought
  • General Andre Beaufre wrote in 1963 that strategic thinking “is a mental process, at once abstract and rational, which must be capable of synthesizing both psychological and material data. The strategist must have a great capacity for both analysis and synthesis; analysis is necessary to assemble the data on which he makes his diagnosis, synthesis in order to produce from these data the diagnosis itself–and the diagnosis in fact amounts to a choice between alternative courses of action.”

Yes, there are many variations on this as well. It comes down to future thinking and it has to be done in conjunction with solid reasoning, logic and analytical thinking. You have to think, really think of multiple outcomes, even if you do not believe them possible in your world, they could be possible in the world others – those who may have more knowledge, experience and/or creativity.

You are forecasting or using foresight, stemming from data on hand, combining it with your own rich cognitive diversity (more expansive and extensive background).

In strategic thinking, some of the same thinking that goes into analytical/critical thinking also applies here, so go back and re-read that section if need be.

Creative Thinking

Not so standard definition – I wanted to use something a bit more for this definition:

  • A way of looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective that suggests unorthodox solutions (which may look unsettling at first). Creative thinking can be stimulated both by an unstructured process such as brainstorming, and by a structured process such as lateral thinking [3]

If you have planned a birthday party, you have employed creative thinking. If you have planned an elaborate way to propose, you have done creative thinking. If you are or have raised children, you have done creative thinking.

You have likely done at work as well. If you have thoughtfully and carefully came up with ingenious ways to save money and become more productive, well, you have done creative thinking.

I used the definition I did because it discusses lateral thinking and that is significant. Why? Because more people should be thinking laterally, or outside the box or as I like to say, outside the bubble (check out the Pariser book mentioned below). We can no longer be content to only think serially or predictably in everything we do. There are many times where we have to think unconventionally to be successful.



All of this comes down to knowledge, not just knowledge you gained in a college, but experience as well. For example, one person can have a college degree (or two) but may not be that smart. Then there is another person who has a college education and is very smart – the combination of life with a college education enhanced this individual. Then we come to yet another bloke, one who has no college whatsoever but is very, very smart due to life – a broad, deep and rich background in several areas that all complement each other to make this person analytic, strategic and creative to be successful in whatever that person chooses to do.

This can be you too; you just have to work at it – “USE THAT BIG, WONDERFUL, RICH BRAIN OF YOURS!

Cognitive Diversity

Think of it this way. If you can create a rich background, okay, I’m just going to say it, a background of cognitive diversity – you can be successful at whatever area you want to work in. Yes, cognitive diversity, it stems from having that expansive and extensive background. This background I describe is composed of work life, college education, self-education and environments of where you have lived and who you interact with every single day of your life to that point.

Cognitive diversity can yield a gold mine of talent and knowledge, if you are willing to tap those veins for success.

On this topic of cognitive diversity alone, we can spend a large section of writing and time on it.



To be productive and effective in your path (and others’) to success, everyone has to consciously engage.

Take a look at a book called “The Filter Bubble” by Eli Pariser. It is a book that goes in very rich detail on how individuals (and groups) isolate themselves by not stretching themselves to grow mentally and intellectually. These individuals surround themselves ‘only’ with people who look like themselves, act like them, sound like them, talk about the same things, all the time, as they do. Many people are afraid to become more diverse in their way of thinking and learning for fear of the unknown.

You have to learn to think in more than just the old way you have been doing so. You have to learn different things, not become an expert but enough to know more than you already know.

Broaden your mental and intellectual horizons with more diversity.

And for the executives, managers and hiring departments – the area of cognitive diversity is something many more forward thinking visionaries should be looking at or willing to take a look at in the people that come aboard. There are multiple sectors of people who may not have the exact skill sets a company is looking for. But!

If there are individuals who have lives/careers full of rich cognitive diversity, they should be snapped up because these individuals can make any firm successful. They can and do see things that others miss and come up with novel ways to do many efforts. These individuals can and do make mental and intellectual connections that others with a less rich life will miss or not even consider.

These individuals come from all walks of life. They are composed of men and women, boys and girls; old and young; various political parties and religious faiths; beautiful or not so beautiful – DO NOT let that external façade put you off.

These people can be highly adaptable and they can be the most productive, effective and successful employees in the firm…



[1] How to think critically and analytically, Open Polytechnic, accessed Sept 23, 2015, www.openpolytechnic.ac.nz/study-with-us/study-resources-for-students/assignments/how-to-think-critically-and-analytically

[2] THE CEO: STRATEGIC THINKING 1, Leaders’ Art, accessed Sept 23, 2015, www.leadersart.com/2015/02/the-ceo-strategic-thinking-1/

[3] creative thinking, Business Dictionary, accessed Sept 23, 2015, http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/creative-thinking.html