Thought Process

Thought Process

Thought Process Jonathan Poland

Thought is the mental process of perceiving, organizing, and interpreting information. It is the foundation of all higher cognitive functions, such as problem-solving, decision-making, and creativity. There are several different types of thought, including:

Abductive Reasoning

Formulating theories to explain what you observe.


Modeling ideas with concepts that differ from concrete reality.

Analogical Reasoning

Using an analogy to develop understanding and meaning.

Analytic Reasoning

Reasoning based on facts that require no interpretation based on experience.

Backward Induction

Reasoning backwards starting with potential conclusions.

Cognitive Biases

Patterns of thought that lead to suboptimal results such as poor decisions.

Cold Logic

Logic that fails to consider human factors.

Conceptual Thinking

The identification of patterns and abstractions in information.


The ability to guess at theories when information is missing.


Deep reflective thought that involves absolute focus on an idea for an extended period of time.

Convergent Thinking

The process of finding the “correct answer” by following predetermined steps.

Counterfactual Thinking

Thinking about the impossible. For example, thinking about past choices not taken that are now impossible.


Creating new and unique thoughts and products of thought.

Critical Thinking

Disciplined, systematic thinking that arrives at an opinion, judgment or critique.

Divergent Thinking

The ability to solve problems by considering a large number of solutions in a creative and exploratory way. Often contrasted with convergent thinking.

Emotional Intelligence

The ability to recognize and read emotions in yourself and others and use emotions in a directed way.


Flow is a state of focus in which a person is absorbed by tasks. Considered important to productivity.


The ability to find general theories that explain observations.

Group Cognition

Social thought processes such as conversation, debate and peer review to build and challenge ideas.


Heuristics are practical approximations that aren’t guaranteed to be optimal. They can be calculated quickly and are often used to make decisions or react to fast moving situations.


The ability to think about things beyond your direct experience or beyond present realities. Allows simulations of ideas to support creativity, decision making, problem solving and prediction.

Inductive Reasoning

A process of formulating theories to explain observations that allows for guesses.


Inferring new facts from what you know.


An innate tendency towards a complex behavior. For example, it has been suggested that people tend to be instinctively curious and social.

Internal Monologue

Thinking in words.


The process of examining your own thoughts, emotions and thought processes.


The ability to acquire knowledge and make judgments almost instantaneously without conscious thought. Carl Jung defined it as “perception via the unconscious.”


Judgement is the process of evaluating information to guide actions and decisions.


Logic is the discipline of valid reasoning. It is essentially a formal approach to rational thought. However, logic has limitations that don’t apply to rational thought. For example, some systems of logic can only consider true or false with nothing in between.


Thinking about thinking.

Minds Eye

Visualizing with your mind including both realistic visualizations from memory or imagination and visual abstractions.

Motivated Reasoning

Using logic to support a choice that’s primarily driven by motivations such as desires and fears.


Conjecture about future events typically supported by experience and information such as trends.

Rational Thought

A state of being reasonable. Often associated with logic. However, rational thought may use natural language, visual abstractions, heuristics and partial truths that go beyond the capabilities of formal logic.


A broad term that includes most types of thinking but excludes emotional thought processes and intuition.

Situational Awareness

Thought processes that deal with fast moving situations such as riding a bicycle. Related to perception, comprehension, judgment, intuition and heuristics.

Social Cognition

The ability to successfully read and navigate social situations.

Speculative Reason

Reason that is theoretical as opposed to practical in nature. Speculative reason includes things such as contemplating philosophy.

Thought Experiment

Testing ideas in your head or on paper without need of acquiring real world data. Often involves either a proof from first principles or use of an analogy.

Learn More…

Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Poland

Chief Executive Officer

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the top administrator of an organization,…

Rationalism vs Empiricism Jonathan Poland

Rationalism vs Empiricism

Rationalism and empiricism are two philosophical approaches to understanding the world and…

What are Finished Goods? Jonathan Poland

What are Finished Goods?

Finished goods are products that have completed the manufacturing process and are…

Cycle Time Jonathan Poland

Cycle Time

Cycle time is a measure of the time it takes to complete…

Grand Strategy Jonathan Poland

Grand Strategy

A grand strategy is a comprehensive and long-term plan of action that…

Experiment Cycle Time Jonathan Poland

Experiment Cycle Time

Experiment Cycle Time is a measure of how long it takes for…

Management Levels Jonathan Poland

Management Levels

A management level is a layer of accountability and responsibility in an…

Competitor Analysis Jonathan Poland

Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis is the process of gathering and analyzing information about competitors…

Internet of Things Jonathan Poland

Internet of Things

The Internet of things describes physical objects with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or communication networks.

Jonathan Poland © 2023

Search the Database

Over 1,000 posts on topics ranging from strategy to operations, innovation to finance, technology to risk and much more…

Innovation Risk Jonathan Poland

Innovation Risk

Innovation is a proactive approach to business and design that aims to…

Market Failure Jonathan Poland

Market Failure

Market failure is a situation in which the market does not produce…

Design-Driven Development Jonathan Poland

Design-Driven Development

Design-driven development is a product development approach that places a strong emphasis…

Work Quality Jonathan Poland

Work Quality

Work quality refers to the value or merit of the work that…

Customer Retention Jonathan Poland

Customer Retention

Customer retention is the practice of reducing the loss of customers to…

Request for Proposal Jonathan Poland

Request for Proposal

An RFP (request for proposal) is a document that asks suppliers to…

Supply Chain 101 Jonathan Poland

Supply Chain 101

A supply chain is the network of organizations, people, activities, information, and…

Resource Efficiency Jonathan Poland

Resource Efficiency

Resource efficiency is the process of using resources in a way that…