By the time we become adults, most of take our decision-making more seriously than relying on the wisdom of the Magic 8-ball. However, without a few strategies to guide our choices, some decisions are as reliable as shaking the 8-ball and hoping for the best. Having to live with the consequences, one would hope the decision is a result of a sound thought process. Whether it is personal or business, examining a problem analytically usually leads to better decisions. Critical thinking is an important step in the decision making process and an essential ingredient in any successful business.
In order to understanding how critical thinking relates to the decision-making process one must first be familiar with each of these terms. The Critical Thinking website, listed in the course readings, defines decision-making as "the process of weighing options and choosing from among them" (http://www.pearsoncustom.com/link/humanities/philosophy/crithink/decisionmaking.html,2003). On the same web site, critical thinking is described as "making judgments and drawing conclusions based on objective evidence" (http://www.pearsoncustom.com/link/humanities/philosophy/crithink/criticalthinking.html,2003). Definitions of these have subtle differences, Morgan Jones (1998) does not distinguish between problem solving and decision-making; rather defines both as the process of gathering data and evaluating outcomes of the decision (Thinker's Toolkit, p. xiv). Additionally he refers to critical thinking as analytical structuring techniques (Toolkit, 1998, p. xiv). Regardless of the exact definition, it is important to draw a distinction between the two words. My personal definition of critical thinking is the process of sorting and evaluating data to be used in a decision, while decision-making is the act of interpreting the data and choosing the path based on the most desired outcome. Critical thinking is the preparation for making a decision.