The Six Thinking Hats is an ingenious yet easy-to-use tool that helps people think about any issue or idea in a focused way. It’s use enhances communication, creativity and productivity for both teams and individuals. A major use is to manage the thinking process during meetings, in order to improve problem solving and decision making. It’s a disciplined process that has been used to great effect by leading organisations around the world.
Why is there a need for the Six Thinking Hats?
One of the most wasteful aspects of meetings is argument. Often we become so pre-occupied with attacking and defending various viewpoints that we lose sight of the main objective: to achieve the best outcome for the organisation. Furthermore, we usually try to think about too much at once. We may be looking at information, forming ideas, and judging someone else's ideas all at the same time.
But what's the alternative? A great antidote to these problems is Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats framework. The Six Thinking Hats method separates different types of thinking – emotion from fact, positive from negative, critical from creative – allowing participants to pay full attention to each aspect in turn.
In traditional adversarial thinking, A and B are in conflict. Each side seeks to criticise the other point of view. But with the Six Hats method, both A and B wear each hat together as they explore all sides of an issue. Adversarial confrontation is replaced by a cooperative exploration of the subject.
By the way, no-one in the meeting wears a real hat – it’s just a metaphor.
What does each Hat stand for?
With Red Hat Thinking, everyone expresses their gut feelings about the idea or proposal, and they all set these feelings on the table at the same time.
During White Hat Thinking the discussion focuses solely on the facts – on information we already have, and on information we need to get.
Yellow Hat Thinking sees everyone, at the same time, identifying benefits, value and positive aspects of the idea.
During Black Hat Thinking, everyone discusses the idea's risks and weaknesses.
Green Hat Thinking sees all participants exploring alternatives and other creative ideas around the topic.
The Blue Hat is a bit different, as it manages the overall thinking process; eg deciding which order to use the other hats. The person running the meeting often wears the Blue Hat.
As you can see, this approach would be far more structured, collaborative and effective than simply getting into a debate over an issue, or looking at the pros and cons of an idea.
- Defuse emotional topics.
- Keep egos and personal agendas in check.
- Prevent domineering or talkative personalities from controlling the conversation.
- Argue less, be more constructive.
- Speed up thinking, be more productive, save time.
- Explore subjects more fully.
- Force each individual to look at all sides of an issue.
- Creatively solve problems.
- Make better decisions.
Six Hats Workshop
Graeme Bowman is an experienced presenter and facilitator in the area of creative thinking. Furthermore, as a Corporate Comedian, he uses his creative talents every day, writing or performing.
During a Six Hats Workshop, Graeme brings all these abilities to the fore, engaging and challenging participants in a way that would be difficult for an internal person to do. The whole idea is to facilitate a valuable outcome for your organisation.
Depending on client requirements, Graeme often integrates this workshop with one of his other Better Business Workshops or creative thinking presentations: ‘How to Suck Great Ideas out of Your Head’ or ‘Uncork Your Creative Genie’. He may also serve as Master of Ceremonies or Facilitator for your overall event. Visit these pages to get a better feel for his unique approach.
For stacks of free tips and insights into creative thinking, click below to visit Graeme's Scoop.it page, 'How to Suck Great Ideas out of Your Head', from which you can jump to web resources from other top Australian and international experts.