What is Six Thinking Hats?

Six Thinking Hats is a group tool for discussion invented by Edward De Bono. It is associated with the idea of parallel thinking, which enables a whole group to think together in a more effective manner. Six thinking hats are six imaginary hats that you put on in order to consider a problem or situation from a variety of different angles in order to get a range of perspectives as opposed to using the predominant western logic of (black) logic negative thinking (also functionalist, productivist, rational, controlling, deterministic).

It’s a method for seeing an issue from all perspectives by forcing yourself (or more often your team) to—one at a time—adopt different “thinking hats” that reflect opposing and orthogonal points of view (analytical, positive, negative, creative, etc.). I’d be curious to hear how this has worked for folks in real-world projects. Seems like it could get tedious in the wrong hands.

  • white – facts
  • red – emotions
  • yellow – logic positive
  • black – logic negative
  • green – creative generative
  • blue – thinking about thinking

Why is Six Thinking Hats Useful?

By getting an entire group thinking and focusing on one approach at a time, it enables everyone to think along the same lines. There isn’t one person focusing on emotion while the rest are thinking logically, it is everyone thinking together as a group. This allows for better collaboration on projects. That is why this technique is extremely popular in companies’ innovation departments, along with designers and creators.

How to use Six Thinking Hats

There are various large companies around the world who use this technique to come up with products, including researchers from Speedo. Here is an example of how the method is typically used:

  • Facts are assembled using the white hat, this tends to be the first part of the process.
  • After this, each hat can only be used for a few minutes each time except the red hat. This can only be used for a maximum of 30 seconds, to ensure that only gut reaction is measured.
  • It is up to the person leading the group to decide which hats come in which order, making sure that everyone in the group is ‘wearing the same hat’ at any given time.

 

six thinking hats

Image source: iMindMap

The book Six Thinking Hatssix thinking hats can be bought here.


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