Generating Ideas: Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats is one of Edward De Bono's intelligent books which are famous for their creativity and flexibility in developing thinking skills. Indeed, De Bono is a master of the art of thinking. In this entry, I just wanna share some of the ideas with those who haven't read the book. Credit goes to De Bono. I'll take none.

White Hat: white is neutral and objective. The white hat is concerned with objective facts and figures.

The white hat is about information. When this hat is used, the only thing that you should think about is information. For instance;

What information do we have?
What information do we need?
How should we deal with this?

Normally, the white hat is used on the early stage of a discussion or meeting.

Red Hat: red suggests anger, rage and emotions. The red hat gives the emotional view.

The red hat is about emotions; how you're feeling regarding the information or ideas stated. So when this hat is used, the only thing that you should think about is your feeling. For instance;

I think this is a good idea.
I don't think this will work.
My intuition tells me that this is too difficult.

Black Hat
: black is sombre and serious. The black hat is cautious and careful. It points out the weaknesses in an idea.

The black hat is about weaknesses and disadvantages of an idea. It teaches us to be cautious. When this hat is used, the only thing that you should think about is how the idea can be disadvantageous and why you should be careful with it. It stops you from doing things that are illegal, dangerous, unprofitable and so on. For instance;

We need to be aware of the possible dangers in order to be on the lookout for them. We need some black hat thinking here.

The black hat is the most used of all the hats, and perhaps the most important hat.

Yellow Hat: yellow is sunny and positive. The yellow hat is optimistic and covers hope and positive thinking.

The yellow hat is about the benefits of an idea and how it may be possible to put the idea into practice. When this hat is used, the only thing that you should think about is the advantages of the idea presented. Positive thinking. For instance;

This idea seems bad, but there must be some good points in it. Let's put the yellow hat first before we make a decision.

It is always good to use the yellow hat before the black hat. It is because, if you can't find much value to the idea, there's no point in proceeding further. But if you find much value under the yellow hat and then proceed to the black hat and find difficulties and disadvantages, you will be motivated to overcome the difficulties because you have seen the benefits.

Green Hat: green is grass, vegetation and abundant, fertile growth. The green hat indicates creativity and new ideas.

The green hat is about being creative. It opens up rooms for development, alternatives, modification and improvement. When this hat is used, the only thing that you should think about is how to modify and improve suggested ideas. For instance;

Let's have some new ideas on this. Put on your green thinking hat.

The green hat creates new views and perceptions. It's like an energy hat that helps you grow.

Blue Hat: blue is cool, and it is also the colour of the sky, which is above everything else. The blue hat is concerned with control, the organization of the thinking process and the use of the other hats.

The blue hat is about organization, the overview of thinking process. It is like the conductor of an orchestra. The conductor gets the best out of the orchestra by seeing that what should be done is done at the right time. So, when this hat is used, the only thing that you should think is the organization of the idea. For instance;

My blue hat thinking definitely suggests that we ought to be looking for alternatives at this point.
We have not got anywhere so far. Putting on my blue hat I would suggest we have some red hat thinking to clear the air. What do we actually feel about this proposal?

The blue hat is always used at the beginning (why are we here?; where do we want to end up?) and the end of a session (what have we achieved?; what are the outcomes?). Typically this hat is worn by the chairperson, facilitator or leader of the session.

Using The Hats

There are two basic ways to use the hats. The hats can be used individually to request a type of thinking during a discussion, meeting or an individual thinking process. For instance;

I think we need some green hat thinking here.
Maybe I should have some black hat on this.

Some people might be offended if people argue or disagree with their ideas. There are also people who don't have the confidence to suggest ideas during a meeting. This six hats method helps overcome these situations since it provides a neutral signal in discussing. For example;

Mr. Gardner, I would like to do some black hat thinking here.

The hats can also be used one after another in a certain sequence. But please know that there is no specific sequence in using the hats. Any hat can be used as often as you like, and you don't necessarily need to use every hat.

The most important factor that guarantees the successful usage of six hats method is discipline. You must always stay with the rule (think only about the hat you're under at the moment) while using the method.

Taken from Six Thinking Hats by Edward De Bono.
Greatest thanks to him:)


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