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Say What?

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What You Think.jpg

Frustrated by making the same mistake at work over and over again? Have trouble forming a logical argument that will influence your manager or peers? Sounds like you could use a strong dose of metacognition.

Metacognition means being aware of how you think. Thinking about our thinking turns out to be just as important as thinking about anything else: what data to include in a spreadsheet, selecting a vendor for an assignment, or how to present not-so-great news to a stakeholder. If you carefully analyze your thinking process and its impact on your day-to-day actions and decisions, you might make some interesting discoveries:    

  • Maybe you don’t know as much about a subject as you thought.
  • Perhaps an unchallenged assumption caused you to make a poor decision.
  • You possibly misunderstood your assignment from this morning’s staff meeting because of an unresolved issue with the project manager.

According to Paul R. Pintrich, Professor of Education and Pychology at the University of Michigan, one of the main differences between bonified experts and the rest of us is that they know that there are things they don’t know. They then use their self-awareness to figure out how to gain the knowledge they lack. This type of self-knowledge requires not only intellectual honesty but humility.

It also takes courage to question yourself about the motives, beliefs, and habits that have fueled the ascent of your career. But the payoff is worth it because motives, beliefs, and habits can become stale without warning. Research has revealed that students who practice metacognitive habits can more effectively adapt to changing circumstances and more readily process new information and retain it. In today’s workplace where change is the rule, the person who can adapt the fastest has the advantage.

Of course, when you take a LeanED course, you’ll notice that we spend a lot of time talking about our thought process and that we constantly challenge you to explain your own. We think this is best practice, and we hope you’ll agree. LeanED’s is not only to transfer skills to learners but to transfer techniques to help them become thoughtful thinkers.

Here are a couple of links about metacognition that I found helpful:

Keep Your Training on Track!

Garrett Ellison

Founder & President



Pintrich, Paul R. (2002). The Role of metacognitive knowledge in learning, teaching, and assessing. Theory into Practice, 41(4). 219-225.

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Garrett Ellison