Six hats for thinking
The Six Hats of Rational Thinking (SHRT) method developed by Edward de Bono, taken from the book “Six Hats of Thinking”, is a personal or group management method for dealing with problems or exploring different perspectives towards a complex situation or issue.
Seeing things in different ways is often a good idea in forming strategy or decision-making processes. This technique is designed to deliberately push individuals to make the effort to assume all modes of thinking to lead them to very different outcomes than they would more naturally assume. By wearing a particular thinking hat, people play roles as if they themselves were in a particular perspective.
Typical steps in a six-hat workshop
- Present the facts of the case (blank)
- Generate ideas about how the case could be handled (green)
- Evaluate the merits of the ideas, listing the benefits (yellow) and drawbacks (black)
- Get everyone’s feeling about the alternatives (red)
- Wrap up and adjourn (blue)
- White Hat: Neutrality (Information) | When wearing the white hat, the thinker states facts pure and simple. The person feeds the group with numbers and information. It is the image of coldness, the taste for simplicity, minimalism.
- Red Hat: Emotional Criticism (Intuition) | With the red hat, the thinker reports information tinged with emotions, feelings, intuitions and hunches. He does not have to justify himself to the other hats. It is “fire, passion, intuition”.
- Black Hat: Negative Criticism (Judgment) | When wearing the black hat, the thinker makes objections by pointing out the dangers and risks that await the realization of the idea. He is the devil’s advocate! It is the caution and the negative judgment.
- Yellow Hat: Positive Criticism (Optimist) | The yellow thinker admits to his or her wildest dreams and ideas. Their comments are constructive and try to put into action the ideas suggested by the other members of the group. This is the “sunshine and optimism”.
- Green Hat: Creativity (Out of the box) | When wearing the green hat, the thinker provokes and seeks alternatives. They are inspired by lateral thinking*, a different way of looking at a problem. They think outside the box and come up with new ideas. It is the fertility of plants, “the seed of ideas”.
- Blue Hat: Organization (Process) | This is the leader of the game, the facilitator of the meeting channeling ideas and exchanges between the hats. It is the blue of the “all encompassing sky”.
All of this creates a cordial and creative discussion climate by facilitating everyone’s contribution. You can all be on the same page and one person’s ideas spark another person’s ideas. Problems can be solved more quickly by focusing your thoughts on the task at hand. New ideas are then protected from immediate criticism and can develop.
Of course, this is not always the right time to do this exercise! But why deprive your team of their maximum brain power when it’s just a matter of putting some playful structure into your meetings 😉
* Lateral thinking: Lateral thinking can hold back a temporarily absurd solution to go further in the reasoning and, potentially, discover after several other steps a possible and innovative solution.