IBAR is an acronym for Issue, Benchmarks, Analysis/Application, and Recommendations. IBAR is a critical thinking method inspired by similar methods used in many American law schools, but geared to business and innovation. IBAR takes any business problem and through a basic research formula that average employees can exercise, creates solutions to the problem. Once an employee understands the critical thinking process using the Internet for research, you now have a potential “knowledge worker,” who knows how to answer and solve problems independently.
What are the components to the IBAR process?
1. Issue: The issue or problem begins the process. Let’s say you are a large soft drink company and you notice that your profits have been down for the last three quarters. You could hire outside consultants and spend thousands of dollars for them to tell you what your problem is and what to do about it. Or you can train your employees to access the problem-in house. The Issue part of IBAR answers the What, When, Why, Where, and How of the problem. Once the problem has been vetted and properly diagnosed, you can begin the Benchmarking process.
2. Benchmarks: Benchmarking is a method of comparing your business, ideas, and models against industry standards, leaders, or best practices. Essentially, when a problem arises inside your company, particularly with productivity and profitability, you are able to gauge the options available for resolution. With the advent of the Internet, Benchmarking is easily accessible once you understand the basic research methodologies that are afforded for generating best practices within other industries transferable to your company. Once you have isolated possible solutions to your problem, you can begin analyzing and developing applications.
3. Analysis/Application: The ability to decipher, filter, and align disparate or disconnected information comprehensively is essential for solving your company’s problem. Any solution-based analysis has to be united with practical applications. After you have determined the relevancy of the best practices you have benchmarked, you have to ensure that the benchmarks fit into your operations. The critical thinking process really takes place in the Analysis/Application section of IBAR. The ability to compare and contrast as well as weigh the pros and cons are deliberated here to determine your recommendations.
4. Recommendations: Contrary to legal critical thinking analysis, which calls for a conclusion, corporate critical thinking analysis calls for recommendations. Because of the mutability and flux of the business environment, recommendations allow for innovation and creativity based on the current landscape. The overarching value of critical thinking is the flexibility and agility of trained minds looking at problems and understanding the process for developing viable solutions based on practical research.