Differentiate Critical Thinking And Creative Thinking Tools

I’m often asked

“What’s the difference between Strategic Thinking and Critical Thinking?”.   A search on the internet will offer you a million opinions.   Here’s one more.

Comparing Strategic Thinking and Critical Thinking

is like comparing running and a pair of shoes.  One is an activity and the other is a tool

Critical Thinking is a toolset

, a methodology, and a process that you use during activities such as problem solving, decision making, innovation, leading, negotiating, influencing, and more.

Strategic Thinking is another activity

, joining the list above, where you use Critical Thinking as a tool.  Strategic Thinking is thinking beyond the specific issue or task at hand.  You look at consequences, implications, interdependencies, and indirect affects, all in both the short and longer term.  It’s an activity where you look beyond the immediate goal or issue and with the context of the world around you, not just the content of the moment.

For example, take the act of buying a car.

You’ll look at the price, the size, the gadgets and features, whether you need four-wheel drive, financing options, gas mileage, and how it feels and rides.   Adding to this thinking might be some strategic thinking, such as how long you might keep the car and the resale value, if you’re thinking of moving to another climate and how the car will perform, what the long term maintenance costs might look like, if your kid is going to college in a few years and you’ll need a tow bar to hitch a carrier or even a bike rack, the total cost of the insurance premiums over the life of the vehicle, even if you’re planning a larger family and how that fits in.

In the process of the above thinking,

you can use Critical Thinking to be clear on your objectives, and how those match the car attributes, to examine why those are your objectives and understand the priorities and how you should consider those strategic issues during your decision.  You’ll look at the assumptions behind those strategic ideas to determine if they are realistic or unlikely.  With the use of Critical Thinking, you’ll be able to evaluate the Strategic thoughts in a way that can provide you with a better understanding of how those factors weigh in, and if your “thinking” is sound

I could use to lose a few pounds.

Diet comes to mind.   Strategic Thinking applied here would bring up other thoughts about life style changes, nutritional needs, exercise, long term health consequences, how my frequent travel affects my choices, etc.  Critical Thinking techniques applied to these strategic ideas will enable me to create a successful plan … even with my love for chocolate donuts.

Can you be a Strategic Thinker without being a Critical Thinker?

  Another way to ask that question is can you Think Strategically without using the tools of Critical Thinking.   Yes, you can, but the likelihood of error, or confusion, or misplaced priorities, or lack of clarity is high if you don’t use the tools that specifically aid there, i.e. critical thinking.

The Takeaway:
Use Strategic Thinking when planning and making decisions about things that potentially have long lasting and significant consequences.  Always use Critical Thinking as a tool to help you with this.   Also, use Critical Thinking as a tool to help you with all the other activities mentioned above

Critical Thinking vs. Creative Thinking


Creative thinking is a way of looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective to conceive of something new or original.

Critical thinking is the logical, sequential disciplined process of rationalizing, analyzing, evaluating, and interpreting information to make informed judgments and/or decisions.


Critical Thinking vs. Creative Thinking – Key Differences

  1. Creative thinking tries to create something new, while critical thinking seeks to assess worth or validity of something that already exists.
  2. Creative thinking is generative, while critical thinking is analytical.
  3. Creative thinking is divergent, while critical thinking is convergent.
  4. Creative thinking is focused on possibilities, while critical thinking is focused on probability.
  5. Creative thinking is accomplished by disregarding accepted principles, while critical thinking is accomplished by applying accepted principles.



About Creative Thinking

Creative thinking is a process utilized to generate lists of new, varied and unique ideas or possibilities. Creative thinking brings a fresh perspective and sometimes unconventional solution to solve a problem or address a challenge.  When you are thinking creatively, you are focused on exploring ideas, generating possibilities, and/or developing various theories.

Creative thinking can be performed both by an unstructured process such as brainstorming, or by a structured process such as lateral thinking.

Brainstorming is the process for generating unique ideas and solutions through spontaneous and freewheeling group discussion. Participants are encouraged to think aloud and suggest as many ideas as they can, no matter how outlandish it may seem.

Lateral thinking uses a systematic process that leads to logical conclusions. However, it involves changing a standard thinking sequence and arriving at a solution from completely different angles.

No matter what process you chose, the ultimate goal is to generate ideas that are unique, useful and worthy of further elaboration. Often times, critical thinking is performed after creative thinking has generated various possibilities. Critical thinking is used to vet those ideas to determine if they are practical.


Creative Thinking Skills

  • Open-mindedness
  • Flexibility
  • Imagination
  • Adaptability
  • Risk-taking
  • Originality
  • Elaboration
  • Brainstorming
  • Imagery



About Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the process of actively analyzing, interpreting, synthesizing, evaluating information gathered from observation, experience, or communication. It is thinking in a clear, logical, reasoned, and reflective manner to make informed judgments and/or decisions.

Critical thinking involves the ability to:

  • question
  • use logic
  • remain objective
  • examine
  • analyze
  • interpret
  • evaluate
  • reason
  • reflect


In general, critical thinking is used to make logical well-formed decisions after analyzing and evaluating information and/or an array of ideas.

On a daily basis, it can be used for a variety of reasons including:

  1. to form an argument
  2. to articulate and justify a position or point of view
  3. to reduce possibilities to convergent toward a single answer
  4. to vet creative ideas to determine if they are practical
  5. to judge an assumption
  6. to solve a problem
  7. to reach a conclusion


Critical Thinking Skills

  • Interpreting
  • Analyzing
  • Connecting
  • Integrating
  • Evaluating
  • Inferring
  • Comparing
  • Contrasting
  • Classifying
  • Sequencing
  • Patterning
  • Reasoning
  • Forecasting
  • Hypothesizing
  • Critiquing


Categories: 1

0 Replies to “Differentiate Critical Thinking And Creative Thinking Tools”

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *