Critical Thinking and Decision-Making Skills Can Resolve Conflicts and Enhance Careers
Lee Failing was working as a water engineer in Lesotho, a tiny kingdom in southern Africa, when she got to sit in on a community meeting called a pitso. At the pitso, the village came together to make decisions about the water system that she was going to help build. What grew into a heated debate was soon calmed by a woman who reminded everyone what the pitso was for: “It’s for listening, not just talking, and it’s for deciding: ‘How do we want to live together?’” This reminder stuck with Lee and led her to dedicate her career to working to improve the quality and transparency of public decisions. She now works as a Decision Scientist and Facilitator at Compass Resource Management, an environmental consulting group in Vancouver, BC that helps people and governments make informed and sustainable choices.
Lee’s reflection, originally delivered for the 2020–2021 cohort of Decision Education Fellows, is a great resource for teachers to show to students to provide context around why decision-making skills matter and how these skills can bring people with competing values to a consensus. Lee explains how learning decision-making skills can not only help us be more effective in the workforce, but can also be the cornerstone of a productive career.
Lee discusses how to foster a thoughtful, reflective, and respectful decision making environment by talking about values, imagining options, exploring consequences, and addressing tradeoffs. She also shares how to think about decision making as a creative, collaborative, and open-minded process to allow people to come together and learn.