Streetwise: Conceptual Thinking

January 10, 2020

From our friends at Eure Consulting:


This is the twenty-fourth installment in our 25 week series exploring the 25 competencies, or soft skills, that our assessments measure. Each week we’ll give you the definition of that competency, explain its value, and give you tips to help you develop it. This week: Conceptual Thinking.

Conceptual Thinking is analyzing hypothetical situations, patterns and/or abstract concepts to formulate connections and new insights. It’s focused on taking a step back to see the bigger picture at hand, drawing connections between the different aspects of a situation and seeing the whole.

This is another one of the skills that requires you to stop and just think. It’s all about working a problem or concept over and over in your mind, making the abstract concrete. Those that are skilled in Conceptual Thinking can see patterns not recognized by others. Their brains are analyzing every situation on multiple levels to see the common threads or similarities that it might have to other situations they’ve faced in the past.

Conceptual Thinking is a critical skill needed to abstract what might come of a hypothesis and see it through to creation. Conceptual thinkers think in terms of patterns, strategies and paradigms and then apply those ideas to the real world. They can analyze a concept or structure and then determine how to best apply it to their current environment. They are constantly analyzing the structures and processes behind real life events. Trying to determine how things move from an idea to a concrete object. When you’re out to dinner, they’re the type of people who are interested in uncovering how a restaurant sources its ingredients. They get a sense of fulfillment by being able to figure it out.

If you’d like to develop your Conceptual Thinking, you can start by stopping to think about how things have come into your life or why certain things happen. Digging into the patterns and systems that lead us to act in certain ways or that bring certain products into our life will get you to start thinking about the conceptual world behind the concrete world. It may sound unnecessary to think about things that deeply, but it can greatly improve your ability to think in terms of systems and processes, thereby improving the systems and processes you use.