Distorted Western Adversarial Thinking

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Distorted Western Adversarial Thinking
Gary Wong, Consultant, Canada

A colleague recently shared a story that Edward De Bono told him at a lunch meeting. Apparently Edward was approached by a lawyer who asked: "How can I use Six Thinking Hats to argue and win my case in court?"
Edward's reply was: "You can't. Six Thinking Hats is for exploration and discovery".

While his response may be considered curt and terse, it reflects Edward's beliefs on how badly Western thinking has been distorted.
In traditional argumenting, or adversarial thinking, each side takes a different position and then seeks to attack the other side. Each side seeks to prove that the other side is wrong. This is the type of thinking established by the Greek gang of three (Socrates, Plato and Aristotle) two thousand four hundred years ago. Adversarial thinking completely lacks a constructive, creative or design element. It was intended only to discover the 'truth' not to build anything."
This is the main reason why Edward De Bono created Six Thinking Hats. We need parallel thinking to overcome adversarial thinking.
Unfortunately, it's easier said than done. Our legal systems are so deeply entrenched in an argument process seeking a win-lose outcome. It has spilled over to our political systems which deliberately create opposing parties that attack each other and defend their righteous cause to win our vote.

What are your thoughts about a court of laws or the parliament using Six Thinking Hats? Would it work? Or is there no hope?

Using Six Thinking Hats in Court
Victor Aguilan, Professor, Philippines
De Bono Six Thinking Hats is not designed to win arguments but to solve problems. I don't think you could use it in the regular court of laws which is adversarial in resolving disputes.
However, if the court recognizes ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution). e.g. conciliation-mediation, then the Six Thinking Hats would be very helpful. In conciliation-mediation, parties in conflict are asked to solve problems together or find solutions to the problem which causes the conflict. The Six Thinking Hats could help the parties to "think outside of the box". The focus would not be on "who is winning", or "who is right", but on "how to solve the problem", or "what can be done?

Using Six Thinking Hats in Court or in Parliament
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
Thanks Gary for contributing such great topics to our 6TH-forum.
Indeed, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail". We should be very careful to use parallel thinking and/or 6TH in non-exploring / adversarial / argument-situations, such as in court and parliament.
But to the extent we consider these processes and institutions as ways to jointly explore different perspectives towards a complex situation or challenge, parallel thinking and or 6TH could indeed be helpful. @Victor Aguilan gave an excellent juridical example.
Note that while you spoke of "distorted Western thinking", the situation in the USA and the UK is actually not entirely the same as in Continental Europe and Japan, where there is a stronger tradition of seeking solutions together rather than an opposing, adversarial paradigm. You can see evidences of this in the political, legal, economic and corporate governance systems.



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