What makes startups strong – critical thinking

The power of visionary leaders lies in their creativity and will to achieve their goals. The visionary leaders’ minds are capable to generate many ideas, often on the spur of moment or sudden intuition. However, with limited resources they have, in order to implement those ideas, they need to select and prioritize. To do so they need critical thinking.

Critical thinking

The objective of critical thinking is to evaluate concepts, options, or directions in a realistic manner. Critical thinking is the ability to consider ideas in a thoughtful way.

Based on the information and data we have collected, we identify cause-and-effect relationships. Then we decide which assumptions we accept, which we reject, what we believe in. Finally, we decide which actions we take and which we give up.

Translating critical thinking into a structured approach

For those who are not fluent in critical thinking, it can be difficult at the beginning. But working with lists of questions helps. For strategic processes, proven analytical frameworks can be a great support.

Below I describe some tips on how to translate critical thinking in a structured approach:

  1. Identify the issue you would like to address, for instance: what reach strategy will be the most effective for us?
  2. Make sure that your definitions are precise. What do we define specifically as a reach strategy? do we mean the choice of a sales channel? What do we mean by effective? Do we mean the time parameter (fastest reach) or the financial parameter (lowest cost of reach)?
  3. Gather observations. For instance: successful companies that we know use direct reach and it gives them the fastest effect. We too should use direct channels. This is your hypothesis that needs to be validated.
  4. Verify observationsgather data and facts. Find various sources and studies on the subject, compare different cases and points of view. You will probably find both opinions that support your hypothesis and those that contradict it. What then?
  5. Compare assumptions. Check the assumptions these opinions are based on. What cases do they apply to? Are these cases similar to your situation? As a result of your research you may conclude, for example, that you cannot compare yourself to the companies that have been successful using direct channels.
  6. Compare sources in a thorough way. Dig deeper to see which opinions and points of view are based on objective and relevant data, and which merely express a subjective judgment. Who are people behind those opinions? Do they have a practical experience and a proven track record in the area they are commenting?
  7. Determine what is critical to achieve the effect you have defined. Analyze the opinions and cases for cause-effect relationships. On this basis, build a decision-making model that will identify the factors that are critical to solve your problem under the specified conditions. One of such factors could be, for example, the size of your company’s resources, another the cost of the sales channel or the time it takes to launch it.
  8. Reduce the number of hypotheses – reject those based solely on judgments or those which clearly express personal preferences. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of those that remain.
  9. Make a choice/decision. Select those hypotheses that optimally solve your problem. When evaluating them, consider the following: What resources and activities will be needed to implement a given idea? What costs it will involve? How quickly the implementation of the idea will lead to a positive outcome? What business benefits will the idea bring to the company? What risks will the idea bring to the company?

The above list is a framework that can be flexibly changed and tailor made to your specific needs. The important thing is that when working on your own checklist, your goal should be to create objectified criteria.

The shortcuts trap

Current times put a constant pressure on decision makers – sudden changes, lack of time, stories of growth or failures put the pressure on market players. Such situations are tempting to take the shortcuts. In addition, we are surrounded by a lot of information, which distracts and provides useless knowledge, and at worst misleads.

When making decisions, it is worth remembering that the human brain, especially under pressure, is more likely to reach for its established thought patterns than for in-depth and critical reflection. All those are the reasons why we should strive to switch the rational approach to confront the problems of the uncertain times. It requires more time and structured thinking at first, but can save many painful consequences of decisions made in the heat of the moment.


Agnieszka Węglarz is an independent consultant, business strategist and practitioner in B2B and B2C, as well as lecturer, speaker and blogger. She has over 20 years of professional experience working as manager in both large corporations and SMEs, where she was responsible for strategy, marketing and business development. She uses her long term executive experience and training expertise to assist companies and their managers in building their business strategy using a workshop methodology. She specializes in business modeling, segmentation, value proposition, sales and marketing strategies as well as consultative selling. She runs her own consultancy business, as well as cooperates with Google for Startups Campus in Warsaw as the business modeling expert and mentor in the acceleration programs. Agnieszka is an author of many business publications. You can read her writing on her business blog on www.agnieszkaweglarz.com. You can contact her by writing to: agnieszka.weglarz@g2m.biz.pl or directly by sending a message via LinkedIN