Helen Lee Bouygues, founder of the Reboot Foundation, believes that a lack of critical thinking is responsible for many business failures. She says organizational leaders often rely too heavily on expertise and then jump to conclusions. Instead, leaders should deliberately approach each problem and devote time thinking through possible solutions. The good news, she says, is that critical thinking skills can developed and practiced over time. Bouygues is the author of the HBR.org article “3 Simple Habits to improve Your Critical Thinking”

You know the story. Maybe it’s even a nightmare of yours. One day, the company is flying high. No reason to change anything. Customers and contracts will always be there.

And then one day – the money stops flowing in, and the business is suddenly in real trouble.

Our guest today knows this all too well. She has been an interim CEO, CFO, or COO at more than one dozen companies. Sometimes they needed her because they were mismanaged. Some failed to stay in front of changing technologies. In a few cases, members of the senior team were simply negligent. But in her experience, all these organizational problems shared one root cause: A lack of critical thinking.

Our guest is Helen Lee Bouygues. She’s the founder of the Reboot Foundation. Based in Paris, the nonprofit helps parents, teachers and employers think more critically about their problems. She’s also the author of the HBR.org article “3 Simple Habits to Improve Your Critical Thinking.” Helen, thanks for being here.

HELEN LEE BOUYGUES: Thank you for having me Curt.

CURT NICKISCH: Helen, you worked in transitional periods for a bunch of big companies. And, you say that many people’s business problems really come down to simple errors in critical thinking. That just sounds a little surprising to me and I wanted to hear why you say that.

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