Review of a Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Course

Review of a Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Course

I have a course referral you will want to take advantage of.  I’m in the final week of a six-week critical thinking and problem-solving course called “Black Belt In Thinking Foundations”.  And it is mind-blowing.  It’s the first course in a series of three, all of which I am unquestionably going to take.  It’s not an AU course, however, and it costs a few hundred dollars.

The course presents models for problem-solving and critical thinking.  When I first learned that it dealt with models, I wondered if it would be a dry rendition of Porter’s five forces model, which I once began reading but barely comprehended due to a lack of background in business terminology.

And I wondered if the Black Belt in Thinking Foundation course was like all those critical thinking books I flipped through at bookstores.  They all had a political bias and focused on the day’s dominant ideological underpinnings.

But I wanted to avoid a political dictate on what counts as critical thinking and what doesn’t.  Instead, I wanted an unpartisan, unbiased, and methodical model to help me think critically.  And I finally found it.

The Black Belt in Thinking Foundation Courses is nothing like Porter or the books I found.  Instead, the Black Belt course is one of the top three most entertaining courses I’ve ever taken.  Everything is highly practical, and you are given the opportunity to solve your most pressing problems or better realize your dreams in the context of the six-week curriculum.

In the first weeks, you learn basic if-then and “to achieve this, I must do that” models.  You then move onto a model called a cloud, which takes two opposing actions you might want to choose between, breaks them each into a benefit, and shows you how to achieve both of those benefits while choosing just one of those actions.

In the following weeks, you learn a druid loop model.  In this model, you have a recurring loop of, say, a desired action and an opposing fallback action.  For instance, you might choose between two opposing actions: study or spend time with your family and friends.  You may intend to study every weekend but spend time with family and friends instead.  And this may have occurred once or multiple times.  Regardless, the course will teach you how to model the scenario.

Once you have your cloud and druid loop modeled, you break a (weak) link by inserting your assumptions that make the connection accurate.  For instance, if studying at home leaves you bored, the assumption might be that you don’t enjoy memorizing your readings.  You’d then take this assumption and flip it to its opposite, called the injection, which is a solution.  The injection would be “I enjoy memorizing the readings.” This injection, or solution, enables you to determine actions to fulfill that desired state.

An entire week is spent on injections and how to create them.  You then learn to take injections or any goal and break it down into obstacles.  You then flip these obstacles into intermediate objectives that solve each obstacle.  Finally, you take these intermediate objectives and map them out into what is called a prerequisite tree.  A prerequisite tree is a tree diagram that you can strategically tackle, step by step, to overcome all the obstacles standing in the way of achieving your goal or realizing your dream.

This course has been a high point of my life.  I no longer feel dependent on others to solve my problems.  I am also more equipped to lead strategy for a high-level managerial role at a public company.  I plan to take the subsequent two Blackbelt in Thinking courses.  I believe the next course is a continuation of the first one, implementing more models and tools.  The final course enables you to tackle a single, large goal (at an enterprise level, for instance) by combining, say, seven or eight druids, multiple clouds, and additional models and tools.

The Australia-based Black Belt in Thinking administration offers customizable payment plans for its $300-and-some course.  I paid $50 a month, which is less when considering the Canadian-Australian dollar conversion.  The instructors are positive and patient, and the pacing of the course is perfect.  I study on average an hour-and-a-half a day (a little more on the weekends) and have gained a perfect grade with solid comprehension.

I highly recommend this course.  It’s not an AU course, but I think its value is far beyond the investment.