Thinking Hats

safety hatIn the ‘stuckness’ of teams and their discussions, there can often be considerable difficulty in resolving progress. This can be because of circular conversation, an emotional override, or time constraints. Lateral thinking expert, Edward De Bono, developed a very useful strategic technique to help in such situations, his ‘Six Thinking Hats’.

The idea is that one kind of thinking should be used at any one time for generating more efficient solutions. When a group purposely adopts just one mode of thinking (or ‘hat’), they discipline themselves to focus on the process, and not just the issue, using a whiteboard and a person to record the notes.  I once led this kind of activity to produce a one-hour resolution to a leadership discussion that had been running for many months. The solution led to greater unity, a clear vision and rapid growth.

1. The ‘white hat’ generates facts and data related to the discussion.

2. The ‘red hat’ focuses on feelings, emotions and intuition.

3. The ‘black hat’ identifies cautions, concerns and weaknesses in an argument.

4. The ‘yellow hat’ looks at the positives, values, benefits and logic.

5. The ‘green hat’ seeks creativity and encourages new ideas, alternatives and solutions.

6. The ‘blue hat’ is process control, asking what thinking is needed, and is often used by the person at the whiteboard, chairing the discussion. It often needs to pull rank on those who start saying, “I don’t know what colour hat this is, but I just want to say…”

Remember to be disciplined to make this work. You can then use the ‘hats’ in whichever order and as often as you need to. Be amazed by the results!


2 thoughts on “Thinking Hats

  1. Hi,

    We use this concept in drug addiction counselling. We assign concepts to the hats as well. The black hat is represented by a “Judge” and the Green one by “Vegetation”.

    One area for consideration in the Green hat is to think of it every possible idea – good, bad and ugly. Just like our garden has good and bad vegetation our ideas are more creative when we consider all the possibilities rather than only trying to think about the good ones. If we need to be creative, sometimes considering other options allows us to think outside the box.

    When we wear the black hat and think like a “Judge”, that will be the time to consider which parts of the vegetation need to be pulled, planted or pruned.

    Hopefully that may help someone.

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