Businesses today have become highly competitive and very complicated. Vital decisions require huge considerations which must be made in very little time and yet, precision (to a large extent) is very important .
Wearing the “Six Thinking Hats” (one after the other) you can look at important decisions from several points of view and make a decision in much less time.
The Six Thinking Hats of Edward De Bono
In the white hat, you have to:
- Deal with available data (facts & figures) and information and see what you can learn from it
- Look for gaps in your knowledge. You may try to fill them or take account of them
- Analyze past trends and try to extrapolate from historical data.
Be neutral and objective in your thinking – Probe your mind with questions like:
- What information do I/we have already?
- What information is missing?
- What information would I/we like to have?
- How are we going to get the information?
At this time; proposals, opinions, beliefs and arguments are put aside.
The Six Thinking Hats Step 2: Wear the Red Hat
Look at the decision using intuition, feelings, hunches, gut reaction, and emotion. Also try to think about how other people will react emotionally, and try to understand the intuitive responses of people who do not fully know your reasoning.
You can put forward your feelings and intuitions without the need for justification, explanation or apology – say something like:
- I don’t like the way this is being prepared.
- I feel this proposal is poor.
- My intuition tells me something might go wrong.
Remember that, it is always valuable to get feelings out into the open.
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The Six Thinking Hats Step 3: Wear the Black Hat
Look at the issue pessimistically, cautiously and defensively. Try to see why ideas and approaches might not work. Think critically and logically to uncover the weak points in a plan or course of action. You can later eliminate them, alter your approach, or make contingency plans.
You need to be judgmental. Think about the:
- Costs (Can we sponsor the project?)
- Regulations (Are they unfair?)
- Design (Is the design really practicable or just attractive?)
- Materials (How much maintenance would be necessary?) etc
However, do not kill your creativity by overusing the black hat – avoid analysis by paralysis.
The Six Thinking Hats Step 4: Wear the Yellow Hat
With the yellow hat, you should think positively & optimistically – see benefits and opportunities. Yellow Hat thinking involves how something can be done even when every other thing looks gloomy and difficult.
Yellow hat thinking is simply a deliberate search for the ‘positives’. Attempt to ask yourself:
- If there are other benefits
- Why the proposal might be better
- The positive assets of the plan
- How you make the plan work
The Six Thinking Hats Step 5: Wear the Green Hat
With the Green Hat, you should be on the look -out for new ideas and new solutions – creativity. In this hat, you must engage freelance thinking and less criticism as much as possible – develop creative solutions.
This may be difficult initially, probe yourself with questions like:
- What other ideas are on ground?
- Do we have options?
- Can this be modified somehow? etc
The Six Thinking Hats Step 6: Wear the Blue Hat
Specifically, with blue hat, you should:
- Look at the ‘thinking’ about the subject (not at the subject itself).
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the group thinking
- Suggest the next step in the thinking (e.g. I suggest we do some more green hat thinking) or ask for a summary or conclusion.
You can use Six Thinking Hats in meetings or on your own. In meetings it has the benefit of defusing the disagreements that can happen when people with different thinking styles discuss the same problem.
In closing, remember to pass every decision through the 6 thinking hats to make more prompt and effective decisions. A simple way to apply this technique is to first of all explore the problem & develop a set of solutions by following any sequence. Then, finally choose a solution through a thorough examination of the solution set.