Six Thinking Hats

Edward de Bono is probably one of the best known writers on human behaviour, particularly for his ideas on lateral thinking.  He's published several books, and still lectures and talks extensively on the whole subject of thinking and creativity.  The Six Thinking Hats were published in the early 1980's, and have become popular across a range of environments.  With more and more teamwork, empowerment and involvement going on, the concept arrived just at the right time.  It's certainly helpful for individuals to understand how the Six Hats can be applied, but they work best when they can be used as a common language in a team or group: that's why we've included them in the Teams & Groups section.



WHITE is neutral and objective, concerned with objective facts and figures
RED relates to anger and rage, so is concerned with emotions
BLACK is gloomy, and covers the negative - why things can't be done
YELLOW is sunny and positive, indicating hope and positive thinking
GREEN is abundant, fertile growth, indicating creativity and new ideas
BLUE is the sky above us, so is concerned with the control and organisation of the thinking process

You can refer to the Hats in two ways: to describe the thinking process that's required in a given situation, and to define how someone IS thinking without appearing critical.  So you might be struggling with an apparently insurmountable problem, and call on the team to put on their Yellow Hats to generate some positive approaches.  Or you can ask someone who's getting negative to take their Black Hat off for a moment - this is far more neutral than telling them to stop being so negative!

If you're searching for a way to boost your team's performance, take a look at the Six Hats.  Problem-solving will be improved, and the very fact that you all become conscious of how you're thinking will make you do it better.  What's more, the process of learning the Six Hats is fun in itself, so you can use it as a team-building event.

A couple of cautions:  the Six Hats won't produce better solutions alone - you still need the right skills and experience on hand to create and implement your ideas.  Secondly, be prepared to persist in the early days: once you've learned the techniques, they'll need to be nurtured until they become part of the everyday language of the team.


There is of course a book - "Six Thinking Hats" by Edward de Bono, surprisingly!  It's not the best way to learn the concept, but once you can speak "Hat", it's a very useful guidebook and aide memoire.



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