Clear Thinking - The Business Experience



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Clear Thinking Case Study


“The Joy of Chess Problems
- great for developing your Thinking Skills” 

Research has established that playing chess, and especially solving chess problems, significantly improves thinking skills. As a result, trials were carried out in teaching chess in schools and the lessons were eagerly received.

But we have found that chess is highly effective for developing thinking ability at any age. We examine which thinking skills can be enhanced by playing chess, particularly those needed in solving chess problems. We also describe a chess problem-solving process we have devised which is equally valuable for resolving many business problems.

Key points of the Story 

Lessons in chess trialled by a charity at a number of schools in Britain and children responded extremely well, much to the surprise of many people. It has been known for some years that chess can improve a rage of thinking skills but little has been done before to apply this learning aid in schools.

We have studied precisely which thinking skills can be improved by playing chess, especially those involved in solving chess problems. Many of these thinking skills are equally relevant to business management. We have also analysed the stage-wise Thinking Process we believe is best suited for solving chess problems. We work through this process regularly in solving The Times chess puzzle – at near 100% success rate.

Thinking Skills developed

Memory; Concentration and Patience; Logical Thinking; Analytical Thinking; Strategic and Tactical Thinking; Imagination and Creative Thinking; Risk and Consequence Thinking; Problem Solving; Decision-Making; Spatial Awareness, Big Picture, Process, and Detail Thinking.

Playing chess and solving chess problems have been shown to develop all these Thinking Skills of immense value in business management. As usual, they are easiest to develop in young brains but they can all be improved at any age. And solving chess problems can be fun and addictive for anyone who relishes a challenge.


Analysis and Lessons

Thinking Skills, eg Memory, Logic, Analysis, Strategy, Imagination, Risk,
Problem-Solving, Big Picture

A valuable stage-wise Business Thinking Process

The value of the
Thinking Skills
you can develop
by playing chess


Memory: chess masters are masters because they have developed phenomenal memory powers – for example: the vast range of opening moves and ‘best move sequences’ for certain situations.

Concentration and Patience: a high degree of focus for lengthy periods. In a world where instant gratification is sought, especially by the young, these Thinking Skills/Behaviours are even more important to develop.

Logical Thinking: working out a logical sequence of moves, for yourself and your opponent.

Analytical Thinking: for example in working out the best option in any situation, or working out why your opponent made a particular move.

Strategic and Tactical Thinking: devising an overall strategy for the game and also the ability to change your plan according to new situations (tactical); assessing your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses: spotting opportunities for attack that suddenly present themselves.

Imagination and Creative Thinking: chess encourages inventiveness and ‘what if’ thinking. For example, imagining a situation several moves ahead, or “What if that piece wasn’t there?”

Risk and Consequence Thinking: you won’t get far without developing a good ‘feel’ for the risks of certain chess situations (yours and opponents) and all the possible and probable consequences of particular moves.

Problem Solving: the ability to deal with problems when your strategy/tactics don’t go to plan or your opponent springs a surprise on you.

Decision-Making: develops the ability to make decisions, quickly – especially in clocked games. Being forced to make a speedy decision is highly developmental.

Spatial, Big Picture, and Detail Thinking: all these three, linked, Thinking Styles are needed. You need to see how the pieces are impacting on each other; what pieces are being attacked or capable of being attacked (or defended); the room for manoeuvre; and switch readily between seeing the whole board situation and the detail of each piece of action.

A stage-wise Thinking Process for solving chess problems

… and many problems in business

By applying Thinking Intelligence techniques we quickly identified a stage-wise Thinking Process for solving chess problems published in The Times and FT. A process which made these problems much easier to solve.

This process can also be used to help solve many similar types of competitive situations regularly found in business.

For example:

1. Look to see if you are being attacked or are in a vulnerable position anywhere on the board. Vulnerability includes being ‘boxed in’, with limited scope for manoeuvre of key pieces, especially your King.

Engaging the right Thinking Styles at each stage

A major element of problem solving (and any other Business Thinking Process) is thinking in the ‘right way’ at each stage in the process. Chess is ideal for developing all the Thinking Styles needed for finding successful solutions.

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