SHARP Thinking

What is SHARP?

 Developed by Helen Lee Bouygues, SHARP thinking is a step-by-step approach to reasoning. The method is a powerful and proven strategy to engage in better decision making.

Part reflection, part reasoning, part creativity, SHARP thinking can empower people at school, at home, and at work. The steps include:

  • Stop. The first step in better thinking is to actually engage in thought, and people should pause and reflect on their decisions, applying rational thought instead of engaging in automatic responses or raw emotions.
  • Hone. People should learn to focus their thinking by asking questions. Lots of them. After all, improved thinking is about more than just reason. It is also an approach to the world and curiosity and openness can go a long way to improving our reasoning abilities.
  • Accumulate. Effective thinking requires “going deep,” drawing on well-researched ideas and facts. This step encourages people to analyze evidence, which involves gathering as much valuable data as possible while avoiding extraneous or illegitimate information.
  • Reason. In this step, people should use evidence to confirm or discount a hypothesis, and people should engage in thoughtful logic, making sure that they’ve truly explaining an idea or an approach with evidence and reason.
  • Perspectivize. What’s key in this stage is to expand perspective by looking at problems in different ways, from different vantage points. This is particularly important when working with others.
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