I recently came across the book ‘The Six Thinking Hats’ by Edward de Bono and was surprised I had not encountered it before. If you have experience of using ‘The Six Thinking Hats,’ this blog post may be a good reminder on how to reconnect with the concept. If like me, it is new to you, come on in and join the party.
Edward de Bono is the author of over fifty books and is famous for developing the concept of ‘lateral thinking.’
His concept of ‘The Six Thinking Hats’ is used by business leaders and creative thinkers worldwide. So, how does it work?
Each hat stands for a different way of thinking about a topic:
THE BLUE HAT stands for Managing the Process. So, you obviously start here. How long are you going to discuss the topic? Working through the other five hats etc.
THE WHITE HAT (sorry had a problem getting white and a highlighter on WordPress – having a nightmare with WordPress today. Work with me – imagine the word in white!) It stands for collecting and discussing ONLY the facts. No emotions allowed here!
THE GREEN HAT stands for creativity. This is where you consider fresh ideas, new perspectives and alternatives.
THE YELLOW HAT stands for exploring the values and benefits of your ideas. If it is working, why so? What are the benefits of doing it this way?
THE RED HAT stands for expressing your emotions about the project. How do you feel about the ideas/concepts you have decided upon? This is the place to get your frustrations/fears or maybe even your happiness out in the open.
THE BLACK HAT stands for the voice of doom. This is the opportunity to be the judge and state why this absolutely will not work – shoot em down, why don’t you?
So that’s all well and good, but really, do we have time for this? What are the benefits?
Well, for one thing, it immediately cuts out black and white thinking – sorry, couldn’t resist.
It also helps individuals focus on problem solving from six different angles.
It enables people who may be ‘stuck’ in one type of thinking to consider the problem afresh and anew.
On your team, you may have ‘process driven thinkers’ who will enjoy the green hat and the yellow hat, and you may have control type thinkers who are more prone to focus on the black and white hats (I actually typed in ‘shite hat’ there by mistake!) Forcing them to look at the issue from another’s perspective can boost not only your own productivity but that of the whole team.
The emotional types are also forced into considering the problem from a ‘facts only’ perspective – something they may find challenging.
I hope you can see that by using these ways of thinking you get a much deeper insight into, not only how to solve a problem, but how you think about and work through a problem.
I will definitely be using this process both for myself and for my career clients. Sometimes when I meet a client, they are so focused on one aspect they hate about their career or job, they have never considered approaching the problem from another angle. I am hoping the ‘six hats’ are going to provide me with a useful tool to enable us to open up the discussion and consider it with every hat on.
I hope you have found this useful. Hats off to you if you plan on using it!