Need To Make A Decision? Put On Your Six Thinking Hats!

Need To Make A Decision? Put On Your Six Thinking Hats!   Have you ever had to think through a complex issue either by yourself or with a group? In these situations, we tend to jump back and forth from potential solutions and possible pitfalls without any structure or strategy. That's normally how we think and there's nothing inherently wrong with that. But if you want to try and make it more productive next time you can try using the 6 Thinking Hats.
Have you ever had to think through a complex issue either by yourself or with a group?

You've probably experienced that sometimes in that situation, what happens is that a few people drive the meeting, or there's a lot of silence, or - even with group collaboration or when thinking individually - there's a few (or a lot) of scenarios you weren't able to consider.

While some of that may be attributable to lack of knowledge or experience on the subject, it's also quite possible that some of that is due to unstructured thinking.

We tend to jump back and forth from potential solutions and possible pitfalls without any structure or strategy. That's normally how we think and there's nothing inherently wrong with that. But if you want to try and make the next meeting or discussion more productive you can try using the 6 Thinking Hats.


What is the 6 Thinking Hats technique?

It's a framework designed by Edward de Bono, that methodically channels group attention into six key directions.

How do we use it?

You use the hats to look at decisions from a number of important perspectives. This forces you to move outside your habitual thinking style, and helps you to get a more rounded view of a situation. It will also help you structure your thoughts and articulate others’.

What are the six hats and what do they mean?

Blue Hat
  • the facilitator
  • defines the situation or problem
  • gives an overview of what should be to achieved after the meeting
  • facilitates the sequence of hats (who to speak first and next)
  • discusses what was achieved before the meeting ends
White Hat
  • Facts & figures
  • Neutral, objective information
  • Questions: what do we know, what don’t we know, what do we need to know
  • Excludes opinions, hunches, judgments
  • Removes feelings & impressions
Red Hat
  • Emotions & feelings
  • Hunches, intuitions, impressions
  • Doesn’t have to be logical or consistent
  • No justifications, reasons or basis
Yellow Hat
  • Benefits and best-case scenarios
  • Positive & speculative
  • Positive thinking, optimism, opportunity
Green Hat
  • Deliberate creation of new ideas
  • New ideas, concepts, perceptions
  • Alternatives and more alternatives
  • New approaches to problems
  • Creative & lateral thinking
Black Hat
  • Logical negative – why it won’t work
  • Cautious and careful
  • Critical judgment, pessimistic view
  • Separates logical negative from emotional
  • Focus on errors, evidence, conclusions
  • Logical & truthful, but not necessarily fair
How does it work?

First, by consciously putting on the six different hats, you can approach a problem from a variety of angles.

Second, you can tailor the approach depending on what would best suit the problem at hand. Although the sequence always starts and ends with the blue hat.

So if you're brainstorming a new product for small business, or maybe what a good investment portfolio might be, the sequence can go something like this:

  • You start by wearing the Blue hat to define the problem. 
  • You then go to the Red hat to bring out what you feel about this problem.
  • The Green hat is then used to propose solutions or ideas.
  • In any order you progress to either the Yellow hat or Black hat to find out pros and cons respectively. 
  • After which you can wear the White hat to get the cold facts and figures. 
  • The Green hat can then be worn again to come up with the best solution based on what you know so far. 
  • It ends with the Blue hat noting the result and, if needed, what to do next

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Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Thinking_Hats

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_07.htm

http://www.slideshare.net/ericw01/six-thinking-hats#btnNext



photo credit: dani_tic via photopin cc

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