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The Business Skills Handbook


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Title: The Business Skills Handbook

The Business Skills Handbook
The Business Skills Handbook
  • Thinking and Memory Skills
  • Week 13

  • Recommended text
  • The Business Skills Handbook
  • Horn, R.
  • London CIPD
  • 1st edition, 2009
  • ISBN 1843982188
  • Chapter 13 Thinking and Memory Skills (page 317)

Lecture Outline
  • develop a clear conception of what thinking is
  • recognise the different types of thinking and
    where to use them
  • developing a clear understanding of how memory
  • developing a good memory

Learning Objectives
  • be able to recognise and use different types of
  • develop a range of techniques to improve memory

What is Thinking?
  • I did it without thinking! We have all probably
    said this at some stage in our university, social
    or work life. It is often said when something
    goes wrong when there is an unexpected outcome.
    Many of our daily actions are performed without

What is Thinking? 2
  • This is not a problem. Indeed, if we had to think
    extensively before we did things, we would get
    very little done. This raises two questions
  • How careful should we be before allowing actions
    to become routine?
  • and
  • How do we know when we should be thinking and not
    behaving in a routine manner?

What is Thinking? 3
  • Once you have thought about this, you may come to
    realise that most of our daily actions are
    performed in a routine manner. Routine is a
    powerful controller of behaviour.

What is Thinking? 4
  • So thinking can be patterned and routine, but
    there will be times when patterned, routine
    behaviour will not be suitable. Real thinking
    will be needed when you encounter
  • a difficulty with normal patterned behaviour
    what you normally do does not work any more
  • a new or unfamiliar situation you have no
    experience to call upon or the normal patterned
    behaviour does not work in that situation
  • a changed situation something has changed and
    requires a change in behaviour.

What is Thinking? 5
  • When we are confronted by a situation, difficulty
    or problem that we have not experienced before,
    we will need to engage a thinking process. Your
    ability to think in an appropriate way and
    develop practical and effective solutions is a
    very valuable skill.

What is Thinking? 6
  • Thinking takes time, so although you may
    concentrate on solving a problem, the solution
    may not readily come to you. You may have
    experienced this when you strain and strain to
    solve a problem, either academic or practical
    you then give up and do something else and then
    wondrously wake the next morning with a solution.

What is Thinking? 7
  • Thinking is the purposeful and conscious action
    of considering. When the conscious work is
    finished, the unconscious mind will carry on.
    Effective solutions often come from hard,
    purposeful, conscious thinking and leaving the
    problem for a while (time).

What is Thinking? 8
  • Thinking may be required to solve an academic
    problem, such as an assignment. It may be
    required to solve a practical problem, such as
    poor team performance. In business these two
    elements are always connected. Academic problems
    need to be solved with reference to practical
    outcomes for business.

What is Thinking? 9
  • Practical problems need to be solved with
    reference to academic theory. Lets move on now
    to think about the different types of thinking
    you can employ in solving problems.

Different Types of Thinking
  • When you look at these different types of
    thinking you may feel they are all the same or
    very similar. Clearly, they are all examples of
    thinking. But, you will need to recognise the
    fine-grain differences between these ways of

Different Types of Thinking 2
  • An indicator of an effective learner or manager
    is that they will be aware of and able to control
    their thinking. So if at first these ways of
    thinking make no sense then persevere because
    with time (like thinking) they will stand out
    clearly as different ways of thinking.

Different Types of Thinking 3
  • There are more ways to categorise thinking and
    more categories of thinking than can ever be
    useful. The following sections categorise
    thinking in ways that I think are useful in

Different Types of Thinking 4
  • Practical thinking focuses on the processes of
    business. How in practice does the process of
    business happen? The underlying data for
    practical thinking is observation. The skilled
    manager can observe and diagnose a problem.

Different Types of Thinking 5
  • The key criteria of practical thinking are
    experiences. A managers experience provides an
    extensive library with which to compare the
    present. Practical thinking is also logical
    process thinking. This is the ability to link one
    process to another in effective ways so that a
    process is effective.

Different Types of Thinking 6
  • Over time managers build up mental models of what
    a good business process will be like and they
    judge current processes by reference to those
    mental models.

Different Types of Thinking 7
Different Types of Thinking 8
  • Convergent thinking is a cognitive process
    bringing information and thoughts to a common
    point. It is integrative in that it brings known
    things to one point. It is effectively a
    condensing process of bringing together a
    synthesis of ideas. This type of thinking might
    be used when there are lots of ideas and opinions
    but very few agreed solutions.

Different Types of Thinking 9
Different Types of Thinking 10
  • Divergent thinking starts from a common point and
    moves outward in a creative way to increase the
    diversity of thought. It is essentially creative
    in that it moves from what is known towards new
    ideas and perspectives. This type of thinking
    might be used with complex problems that have
    proved hard to solve for lack of ideas.

Different Types of Thinking 11
  • Critical thinking is convergent thinking that
    assesses the claims of something. This was
    covered extensively in Chapter 10.

Different Types of Thinking 12
  • Inductive thinking is a reasoning process that
    starts with the parts and cognitively works
    towards the whole. This type of thinking is most
    often seen in qualitative research where parts of
    a problem are researched and then the researcher
    argues how the parts create the whole.

Different Types of Thinking 13
  • Deductive thinking is a reasoning process that
    works from the whole to the parts. This is often
    seen in quantitative research where the whole of
    something is researched and the explanations are
    then made about the parts.

Different Types of Thinking 14
  • Evaluative thinking is thinking concerned with
    judging the value of something. It is closely
    tied to critical thinking and was extensively
    covered in Chapter 10.

Different Types of Thinking 15
  • Comprehension thinking is the cognitive process
    of understanding something. This process is often
    a case of understanding writing or situations.
    The techniques of comprehensive thinking are
    visualisation, contextualising and practice.

Different Types of Thinking 16
  • In visualisation we make visual in our minds the
    ideas we read on paper. We imagine how the idea
    would take place. Drawing on paper or creating
    the image in your mind is an excellent way to
    comprehend something. We can also comprehend
    something by placing it in a familiar context.

Different Types of Thinking 17
  • Finally we comprehend by trying out or
    practising. If we use the idea of speed reading,
    all three techniques could be useful. We read
    about speed reading then imagine how it will
    happen we place it in context by thinking, I
    could use that idea here or here we will
    comprehend the idea better when we try it out.

Different Types of Thinking 18
  • Memorising thinking is covered later in this
    chapter. It involves using strategies and
    approaches that allow the recall of information.

Different Types of Thinking 19
  • Reflective thinking involves careful and
    consistent thought about what you know and
    believe. The reflection requires that you weigh
    up the reasons for your beliefs. It also requires
    that you change your thinking dependent on the
    reasoned analysis of a situation or belief.
    Reflective thinking is the basis of all change
    and improvement.

Different Types of Thinking 20
  • Investigative thinking involves thinking and
    analysis of things that are incomplete or
    unclear. We could call this detective thinking
    because it involves piecing together actions that
    have taken place. You will need to adopt this
    mode of thinking when investigating critical
    incidents at work. Managers often need to
    investigate some sort of failure, accident or

Different Types of Thinking 21
  • Social thinking concerns the emotions, beliefs,
    actions and thoughts of others. In most social
    situations you will have developed social
    thinking from an early age.

Different Types of Thinking 22
  • But, conscious social thinking is required by
    managers who must not only take the views,
    perspectives and desires of others into account
    but must also demonstrate that those views have
    been taken into account. Without active social
    thinking managers can easily overlook the
    perspectives of smaller groupings in their team
    or workforce.

Different Types of Thinking 23
  • Creative thinking involves measures and
    techniques that inspire new ways of thinking and

  • Memory is an important part of academic and
    business life. You may at the moment think your
    memory is not very good I cant remember a
    thing. Understanding how your memory works and
    developing some helpful memory methods will soon
    improve your memory.

Memory 2
  • The most important reason to improve your memory
    at university is to do well in examinations. But
    improvements for this reason will also help with
    other university tasks and will certainly help
    you at work. It is not always your ability to
    recall facts and figures that is important it is
    often that you need to recall where you can find
    those facts and figures.

Memory 3
  • Modern computing can certainly help here in that
    organising information has never been easier.
    Well-organised information is also easier to
    retrieve and easier to remember. So part of
    having a good memory is to organise information
    in ways that are easily retrievable. In business,
    the ability to remember your customers and their
    preferred purchases and some relevant personal
    facts is vital.

Memory 4
  • If you are in sales your customers will buy more
    from you if they think you know them personally
    and care about them. So how would you remember
    the details of each of your customers, their
    buying preferences and some personal facts?

Memory 5
  • Modern handheld computers provide the answer. All
    the information you will need to successfully
    manage the sales relationship can be held on
    these devices. You only have to look up the
    detail five minutes before you make the sales
    contact. But you still have to be able to
    remember the detail for the length of the meeting.

Memory 6
  • Lets look at the nature of memory by considering
    what is easy to remember and what is hard to
    remember. I doubt you have any trouble
  • the names of family members or friends
  • your birthday
  • how to read and write
  • knowledge from school
  • stories from your past
  • skills, such as riding a bike
  • routines and habits.

Memory 7
  • However, you might have more trouble remembering
  • things that you dont want to do
  • things you believe will be difficult to remember
  • information that you consider to be boring or
  • changes to your daily routine
  • things you did when you were tired, bored or

Memory 8
  • Forgetting things can have some unpleasant
  • embarrassment, frustration or anxiety
  • a reduction in self-confidence
  • feelings of being stupid
  • avoiding participating in things withdrawal
  • apprehension once we have experienced the
    inability to remember.

Memory 9
Memory 10
  • How memory works
  • Memory is a process and that process is believed
    to follow these steps
  • You perceive something by sight, sound, smell,
    taste or feel.
  • This information is filtered by the sensory
    registers and committed to short-term memory
    (STM) (also known as working memory).
  • STM can hold this information for up to 30
    seconds and there is a limit of about 59 items
    that can be held in STM for most people.

Memory 11
  • If you choose to you can commit it to long-term
    memory (LTM) this is done by
  • rehearsal
  • coding
  • Imaging.
  • You need to retrieve it from LTM to STM if you
    want to use it.

Memory 12
  • As an example lets consider how you perceive
    information in a lecture using two different
  • Scenario 1
  • In the first lecture you are given extensive
    handouts that cover all the slides shown and the
    related information. You sit passively listening
    to the lecturer and at the end of the teaching
    session you can remember only one striking visual
    thing that was shown to you about halfway through
    the lecture.

Memory 13
  • Scenario 2
  • You are given no handouts and have to listen
    carefully and make your own notes. You do this by
    creating a visual mind map of the ideas
    presented. An hour after the lecture you can
    recall most of what was taught.

Memory 14
  • Memory in Scenario 1 the only stimuli you
    receive are a stream of sound that enters your
    STM it is not encoded or otherwise transferred
    to LTM and is quickly forgotten. The visual
    stimulus is immediately transferred to LTM by

Memory 15
  • Memory in Scenario 2 the constant sound and
    visual stimuli are transferred by encoding and
    imagery, the mind map you created, to LTM as the
    lecture progresses. This is available to retrieve
    back into STM some time afterwards. If this LTM
    were reinforced it would become relatively
    permanent in LTM and available to retrieve for
    years afterwards.

Memory 16
  • In Memory Scenario 2 there are simple techniques
    that will improve your ability to remember the
    mind map you created during the lecture. Common
    helpful techniques are
  • numbering and lettering lists
  • diagrams, pictures, tags and icons
  • colours
  • adding your own contextual examples
  • linking and connecting
  • logical structures and positioning think about
    the clock index from Chapter 2
  • top-level summaries.

Techniques for Improving Your Memory
  • You will need to reflect on the techniques of
    memory that will work for you. We are not all the
    same and some of the following work for some
    people and some do not.

Techniques for Improving Your Memory 2
  • Pictures and images
  • We have already noted that pictures and images
    are easier to remember than words. Linking and
    visualising by drawing ideas will assist with
    remembering them. This is a two-stage process
    the act of drawing fixes the thing in LTM and
    then the act of looking reinforces the thing in

Techniques for Improving Your Memory 3
  • Charts and tables
  • Complicated and complex data is easier to
    remember if it is structured into tables or

Techniques for Improving Your Memory 4
  • The Roman Room
  • The Roman Room strategy is an extension of the
    association and imagery approach. Here the things
    you need to remember are placed into rooms in
    your family home. In each room you will have
    furniture and furnishings that can also be linked
    to things you need to remember.

Techniques for Improving Your Memory 5
  • This technique works because you are very
    familiar with your family home and you link new
    information to this familiar structure. While
    this will require some mental effort to link the
    items to the rooms and furniture, it does allow
    for excellent recall. If the links can be funny
    or odd, they will be all the more memorable.

Techniques for Improving Your Memory 6
  • Acronyms
  • Acronyms are words made from the first letters of
    something you wish to remember. They allow recall
    of both the information and the order of
    information. One classic that most people will
    know is ROYGBIV, which is a way of remembering
    the colours of the rainbow red, orange, yellow,
    green, blue, indigo, violet.

Techniques for Improving Your Memory 7
  • A more complicated acronym is BEDMAS, for the
    order that maths operations should take
    brackets, exponentials, division, multiplication,
    addition and subtraction.

Techniques for Improving Your Memory 8
  • Two business-related acronyms are
  • SMART specific, measurable, achievable,
    realistic and timely
  • TRACC for business memos timely, relevant,
    accurate, concise and clear.

Techniques for Improving Your Memory 9
  • And finally, a North American one for the quiz
  • HOMES Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior
    the names of the Great Lakes.

Techniques for Improving Your Memory 10
  • Acrostics
  • Acrostics are short phrases where the first
    letter of each word is the cue for something you
    need to remember. If we take a look at an
    acrostic that will help remember the planets in
    the solar system, you will see how they work.

Techniques for Improving Your Memory 11
  • The planets and the order they are from the Sun
    Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn,
    Uranus, Neptune, Pluto. There arent many useful
    acrostics in general and not many in business, so
    the essence is to build your own for remembering

Techniques for Improving Your Memory 12
  • Now to that acrostic that could be used to
    remember the order of planets from the sun is
  • My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Up Nice

Techniques for Improving Your Memory 13
  • You will note that this works much better for
    this ordered list than an acronym would. This is
    because MVEMJSUNP doesnt actually mean much to
    most people. You can easily invent your own
    acrostics to cope with the specific knowledge
    that you need to remember.

Techniques for Improving Your Memory 14
  • Chunking
  • Chunking is useful with numbers. If you remember,
    your short-term memory will be running out of
    space by the time you have heard or seen 59
    items. A ten-digit telephone number will be
    difficult to remember.

Techniques for Improving Your Memory 15
  • Try remembering 0770525252 as a single-digit
    sequence. This may be difficult, as your mind
    will automatically chunk it to make it easier to
    remember. Wait 30 seconds and see.

Techniques for Improving Your Memory 16
  • Can remember it? Now try remembering0770 52 52
    52. This should be easier and you will probably
    remember it tomorrow.

Techniques for Improving Your Memory 17
  • Chunking with familiar numbers is an even more
    effective method. If your birthday is on the 07
    of August and your granny lives at number 70 and
    part of your car registration is 52, then this
    becomes a number you are unlikely to forget.

Next Week
  • basic Word skills
  • using the new features of Word 2007
  • using keyboard shortcuts
  • understanding and using styles and themes
  • creating a references list and a bibliography
  • creating an index
  • creating a contents page
  • using mail merge

The Business Skills Handbook
The End