A team of explorers were asked to investigate a newly discovered island. They began by arguing which direction they should study first. The argument went on for days with one group advocating “north,” another advocating “south,” and a third advocating “east.” Admittedly, some of the arguments were quite good with just the right amount of logic and passion. But in the end, none of the arguments produced anything resembling a study of the island.
So it often is with team meetings and team thinking. We argue the topic, or argue around the topic, and fail to produce new ideas or solutions to our problems. We go nowhere.
Six Thinking Hats enables the exploration of problems and opportunities from six different perspectives, with each perspective explored by all members of the team in unison. The six perspectives (symbolized by colored hats) are:
- White Hat: the information we have, and the information we’re missing, about the topic of our thinking.
- Red Hat: our feelings and intuitions about the topic.
- Yellow Hat: the values, the benefits, what fits the topic, what works.
- Black Hat: the risks, the dangers, what doesn’t fit the topic, what doesn’t work.
- Green Hat: alternative ideas to aid problem solving or new idea generation.
- Blue Hat: control and organization of the thinking process; thinking about the thinking itself.
Because the team explores each perspective one-at-a-time and in unison, there can be no argument! When we’re all exploring why something might work (Yellow Hat), thinking about why it might not work (Black Hat) is not, at that time, called for or permitted. This system is particularly effective when a serious and/or emotional topic is being considered.
In 1987, I became the first person permitted by Edward de Bono to teach the Six Thinking Hats® concept. Since that time, I’ve trained, in 12 countries on six continents, thousands of executives, managers, and staff in Dr. de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats technique. I’ve also used the Hats to facilitate medical advisory teams, scientific research, product design, strategic planning, team building sessions, and disputes between management and staff. It is a terrific system: easy to learn, powerful to use.
“Thanks to the Six Thinking Hats, my team is more focused in meetings and has improved time utilization.” Theresa Cogswell, Interstate Brands
These are benefits you and your team can expect from using The Six Thinking Hats:
- Shorter, more productive meetings.
- An effective approach to problem solving and decision making.
- Reduced conflict and ego-posturing.
- Improved results.
- Higher quality and quantity of ideas.