Systematic, Deliberate Thinking is not Easy to Do

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Six Thinking Hats > Best Practices > Systematic, Deliberate Thinking is not Easy to Do

Systematic, Deliberate Thinking is not Easy to Do
Gary Wong, Consultant, Canada, SIG Leader
Your friend Joe calls you to say a recruiter from another company has unexpectedly called and presented him with a very attractive offer to head up a new department. He almost said yes right away, but he replied "Let me think this over and I'll get back to you."
In the afternoon you meet with Joe during a 15-minute coffee break:
"I'm so excited! This is the job I've dreamed about! But I am going to hurt a few people I'm working with now. How do I break the news to them? Then there's my wife and her job. She'll be happy with my bigger salary but will she want to move? What about the kids? I'm sure they'll be happy when we put them in private school. Selling the house will be a pain but looking for a new one should be fun. I know, we'll make it a family affair! Yah! Wait a minute, I'll have to negotiate a new mortgage. Perhaps I should ask about mortgage loans for employees. If they want me, I'll make that part of the deal. Hmm, maybe not. I need to appear humble, not arrogant. Uh oh, I have a meeting tomorrow about starting a new project. Hey, it's my chance to make some serious demands. If I don't get them, I'll tell them to find someone else to lead it. I can do this now with this offer in my back pocket. Then again, I don't have it writing yet. Gosh, I'm so confused. Can you help me think this through?"
The first step is to make Joe aware of his current thinking process which is random, unorganized, a free for all. No wonder he's confused! In terms of Hats, his mind is quickly jumping from hat to hat in a random, disordered way.
You believe the best way to help him isn't with more ideas and suggestions to add to his already cluttered head but to improve his thinking process. Joe is aware of Six Thinking Hats but so far he just uses it for classification: "Oh, that's a Green Hat idea" or "Why are you wearing a Black Hat?"
He's ready for the next step - thinking in a deliberate, systematic manner. With the remaining time left in the coffee break, what Hat sequence would you propose to Joe?
 

 
Use a Short Hat Sequence, possibly two
Gary Wong, Consultant, Canada, SIG Leader
Joe's dilemma is accentuated because he really is dealing with 2 decisions: Should I remain in the current job? Should I accept the offer?
If I only had a few minutes left with Joe, I would suggest the following:
1. Start by answering the first question.
2. Run twice through a short hat sequence: Blue>Yellow>Black>White>Blue.
3. Clearly understand what are your real Needs vs. "nice-to-have" Wants.
4. If you think there is value in pursuing the offer, then answer the second question.
I'd also tell Joe to use a timer and remain in the hat until time is up. If a thought pops up in your mind that's under a different hat, let it go. Don't jump to that hat. But if you're still entering and time runs out, extend the time and finish. Then move to the next hat. Use the Red Hat sparingly in order to suppress emotions that can lead to an irrational decision.
Some prompt questions for Joe to think about under each hat:
Blue Hat: Should I remain in the current job?
Yellow Hat (3 mins)
What are the positive aspects of remaining in the current job - what do I get now?
What are the benefits professionally (career, reputation, contacts)
What are the benefits personally (family, friends)
What will I keep or gain economically? Emotionally? Mentally? Spiritually in terms of continuing to make a contribution?
Black Hat (3 mins)
What are the negative aspects of remaining in the current job - what will I miss out?
What might hurt me professionally if I stay?
What are the personal downsides of keeping the status quo?
White Hat (2 mins)
What half-truths am I making that I need to confirm?
Where do I have gaps in what I know and don't know?
Blue Hat
Create action plan (What/Who/Where/When) to obtain the necessary information (3 mins).
Get the information and adjust the pros and cons. (whatever time it takes).
Summarize how well my needs are currently being met and if I really need something more.
This is a No / No-Go decision point for Joe. If he wishes to pursue, he can repeat the short hat sequence with some modifications.
Blue Hat: Should I accept the offer?
Yellow Hat (3 mins)
What are the positive wins of accepting the offer?
How will accepting enhance my career? My professional status?
How will accepting improve my role as a husband? A father? Relatives? A close friend?
How will I prosper economically? Emotionally? Mentally? Spiritually in terms of making a difference in a new company?
Black Hat (3 mins)
What are the negative consequences of accepting the offer?
What new risks will I be facing that could harm me professionally?
What adverse impacts will accepting the job have on my family? On my personal activities that I enjoy doing?
White Hat (2 mins)
What assumptions am I making that I need to confirm?
What information am I missing?
Blue Hat
Because changing jobs impacts others, who do I need to involve to get their perspectives - wife, children, close friends?
Set up a Parallel Thinking exercise and run it with those who choose to participate.
Summarize if yours and the needs of others can be better met by accepting the offer.
 

 
Great Examples of 6TH Applications
KC Lee, Management Consultant, Malaysia, Member
Gary, just want to commend you for the great practical applications of the six thinking hats! I am surprised that there aren't more "ratings" that your posts - especially this one - deserves. Keep up the good work and keep them coming...
Cheers.
 

     
Special Interest Group Leader
Gary Wong
Consultant

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