Thinking critically helps ensure that we make better decisions by encouraging us to question information we hear and see if it doesn’t fit in with what we know.
People who lack critical thinking skills make errors because they:
- Make wrong assumptions.
- Fail to note a condition that is unusual.
- Use information that is obviously incorrect.
- Misinterpret correct information.
Why have we adopted this safety behavior?
- We are emphasizing that if you are ever uncertain of a situation because the information doesn’t seem right or fit in, then you should stop all work activities.
Two tools to help you to always critically think:
- Questioning attitude.
- Validate and verify.
A questioning attitude isn’t about asking questions – it’s about questioning the answers. We must recognize situations or raw information that doesn’t seem quite right.
Raw information can be from any source: Direct observation, results of tests, displays from monitors and devices, verbal or written, or guidance documents.
When we receive information that doesn’t seem quite right we should always validate and verify the information:
- When we note an inconsistency.
- In any high risk situation.
- When the plan of action changes.
Validate is an internal check – you will ask yourself “Does this situation or the information that has been given to me make sense with what I know to be true/right?”
Verify is an external check of the information with an independent and credible source to confirm our thinking.
Using this error prevention tool will help you in those tough moments where your internal “smoke detector”, or intuition is signaling to you that something doesn’t seem right.
Remember – it’s okay not to know, but it’s not okay not to find out. It may feel uncomfortable to ask about something you think you should know, but think about how you will feel if you don’t ask and you make a mistake or error.
For more information about critical thinking, sign up for HRO training via the CLN or check out our HRO website which includes articles about all of the Jersey S.T.R.O.N.G. safe and reliable error prevention tools.