Session Outline

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Critical Thinking: A Model for Achieving Superior Decisions
with Dr. John Austin

Date: October 04, 2017
Session Time: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Location Information:
Federal Reserve Plaza
600 Atlantic Avenue Boston, MA
(617) 973-3000
Session Description
High quality decisions have always been essential for strong business performance. Yet with the increasing speed, complexity and data availability in today's competitive environment, superior decision skills are more important than ever. This workshop will help you improve your decision making skills by offering behavioral insights into how people actually think and make decisions. It then teaches the advanced critical thinking skills and creative strategies needed to manage unfamiliar, highly complex problems or decisions that involve significant uncertainty. It offers strategies on how managers and executives can deal more effectively with ambiguous information, loosely structured problems, deep uncertainty, and complex tradeoffs. The focus is on critical thinking, breakthrough problem solving, learning and the effective use of groups.

Dr. John Austin works at the intersection of executive practice and academic insight as President of Three Translation Leadership.  For the past seven years he has also been a Principal at Decision Strategies International and an instructor teaching executives at The Wharton School’s Aresty Institute of Executive Education, Georgetown University, and Duke Corporate Education.  Prior to that, Dr. Austin was on the faculty at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University and at The University of Washington, Bothell. Dr. Austin has a B.A. in economics from The Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in management from Boston College. His research on knowledge-based decision making teams is widely cited in the academic literature, as is his work on the strategic actions of internal change agents.  Dr. Austin is an award-winning teacher and facilitator with experience working with executives, MBA students and practicing managers on six continents.  His research has been published in leading management and applied psychology journals including Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Organization Design, and Organization Science as well as practitioner-oriented publications such as HR Magazine and The OD Practitioner.  Dr. Austin’s work has been recognized with three Best Paper awards from the Academy of Management and has been mentioned in a number of media outlets including CNN, The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s. He is the author of Unquestioned Brilliance: Navigating a Fundamental Leadership Trap. 
Time Allocation - Topics
25% Decision framing
  • "Mental frames" that define issues
  • Frame control through better problem definition
  • Avoiding judgment and perception traps
  • Surfacing hidden assumptions
20% Creative problem solving
  • Factors for individual creativity
  • Techniques for creativity enhancement
  • Factors for organizational creativity and innovation
20% Gathering intelligence
  • Recognizing your own informational and judgmental limitations
  • Traps that lead to faulty intelligence, inferior solutions and false predictions
  • Specific steps to improve information gathering and intelligence
20% Coming to conclusions
  • Coming to sound, timely conclusions, alone or in groups
  • Testing the quality of the solutions or accuracy of predictions before you bet on them
  • Preventing "groupthink" and other group decision errors
15% Learning from feedback
  • Transforming experience into decision learning
  • Why a decision succeeds or fails
  • Self-serving explanations
Guide to Participant Selection
1 indicates primary target audience.
2 indicates a good fit if the level of material is appropriate.
3 indicates (in the opinion of the institute and the faculty) very limited applicability.
Senior Executive
(Pres, Exec & Sr VP)
(VP & Gen'l Mgr)
Senior Managers
(Div & Reg. Mgrs)
Middle Managers
& Superintendents
Adaptability, Communication, Developmental Perspective, Initiative, Interpersonal Relations
Problem Identification, Selecting and Organizing Information, Determining Required Resources
Decision Making, Use of Authority, Delegation, Direction, Coordination, Guidance

Introductory    Intermediate    Advanced
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