Posted tagged ‘carrie bishop’

Being Critical

June 11, 2012

Critical thinking – even the kids are at it…

Sometimes, a throwaway comment made by someone else can have real resonance. And so it was a few weeks ago when someone at a conference I attended mentioned (I think it might have been Carrie Bishop but if not sorry to whoever did say it)  that being a policy officer in local government rewarded negativity. Officers were given extra points if they could dissect a piece of policy or another proposal, in as elegant a manner as possible.

The reason that wrung true is that it’s not just policy officers; being critical, and having a critical mind, is one of the most sought after traits in local government.

Think back to the last time you sat in on a strategy meeting or something similar. Doubtless there was an officer there who had brought forward a researched and thought through paper that was then dissected by the attending managers. Even those that are supportive will only use their support as a preamble to then depart some piece of critical wisdom.

This is not necessarily a surprise. Having critical thought is one of the traits most praised in degree students and in society in general. Being critical assumes that you are able to analyse situations and not just take them at face value. The high value given to it in local authorities presumes that the act of creating good policy and particularly making good decisions requires the deconstruction of other work and thorough questioning before the right outcome can emerge.