Six Thinking Hats
(de Bono)

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Exploring different perspectives. Explanation of Six Thinking Hats of Edward de Bono.


Six Thinking Hats - De BonoThe Six Thinking Hats technique of Edward de Bono is a model that can be used for exploring different perspectives towards a complex situation or challenge. Seeing things in various ways is often a good idea in strategy formation or complex decision-making processes.


Purposes of 6 Thinking Hats

  • Simplify thinking by allowing one to deal with one thing at a time. De Bono identified six styles of thinking and assigned a color to each one. One thinking style is not inherently better than another; it's just a different way of looking at something.
  • Allow switching in thinking from one style to another. He likened switching to putting on and taking off a hat. The combination of colors and hats provides an idiom that instructs how to think without being offensive. By turning thinking into role-playing with simple rules, it does not threaten a person's ego or personality.

The Six Thinking Hats Colors

Each of the Hats is named for a color that is mnemonically descriptive of the perspective one adopts when wearing the particular hat. For example the devil's advocacy is what one engages in when wearing the Black Thinking Hat.

  • White Hat (think of a sheet of paper): FACTS and FIGURES; neutral and objective view; focus on information available, what info is needed, how it might be obtained.

  • Red Hat (think of fire, warmth): EMOTIONS, FEELINGS, intuition, hunches; focus on quickly expressing without explanation nor justification required.

  • Black Hat (think of a stern judge wearing black robe): LOGICAL NEGATIVE support; focus on pessimism, why something is wrong, being judgmental and critical.

  • Yellow Hat (think of sunshine): LOGICAL POSITIVE support; focus on optimism, benefits, what's good, being constructive.

  • Green Hat (think of growing plants): CREATIVE and LATERAL thinking; focus on change, innovation, invention; new ideas, possibilities, concepts, perceptions, paradigms.

  • Blue Hat (think of the sky, cool): CONTROL of THINKING PROCESS; focus on thinking about thinking, overview; being cool and in control of the overall process and use of other hats.

De Bono's hats are indicative of both emotional states as well as frames of mind (i.e., perspective from which an issue is viewed). He noted: "Emotions are an essential part of our thinking ability and not just something extra that mucks up our thinking" (1985, p27). One thinking style (or hat) is not inherently "better" than another. A full, balanced team recognizes the need for all hats in order for the team to consider all aspects of whatever issues they are facing.


When to Use the Six Thinking Hats. Applications

  • Individual use: Consciously using one hat or another for every thinking moment is overkill. 6TH is for occasional usage when a person may want to sort out one's thoughts by putting on a particular hat. To handle a more difficult or complex issue, a formal structured sequence would be laid out beforehand.
  • Group use: De Bono calls the act of deliberately having everyone wear the same hat at the same time Parallel Thinking. Topics are explored together factually and emotionally. It is a vast improvement over traditional adversarial thinking where people take sides and argue back and forth hoping that some useful outcome will emerge.
  • Note that 6TH is not a labeling exercise. Example: "He is in Accounting and is a Black Hat thinker." or "Those Marketing guys only think with the Yellow Hat on." The hats are categories of thinking behavior and not of people themselves.
  • Good thinkers are comfortable wearing all six hats and learn to easily switch them. Parallel Thinking calls for everyone to contribute under each hat.

Main Benefits of Six Thinking Hats. Advantages

  1. Allows one to say things without risk. Very strong in preventing the Spiral of Silence.
  2. Create awareness that there are multiple perspectives on the issue at hand
  3. Provides a convenient mechanism for 'switching gears', thinking in deliberate different ways
  4. Set rules for the game of thinking
  5. Temporarily focus thinking on one aspect
  6. Helps individuals expand their thinking capacity by adopting a perspective that is not necessarily their own
  7. Leads to more creative thinking through unhampered dialogue that builds on each other's contributions
  8. Improves communication, since egos are not threatened and people are never personally attacked
  9. Improves decision making, because attention is given to all aspects of a problem/opportunity (pros, cons, gains, risks, etc.)

Typical Steps in a Six Thinking Hats Workshop. Process

The Hats may be used in many different sequences depending on the nature of the issue. But here is a typical agenda for a situation where a problem has just surfaced and a fix is needed within the next half hour. The team leader will facilitate by wearing the Blue Hat and lead the team of 5 workers through the thinking process.

  1. Blue Hat (2 mins): State purpose of the meeting and expected outcome. Show hat sequence and time limits to be used.
  2. White Hat (10 mins): Present the facts of the problem.
  3. Green Hat (3 mins): Generate ideas on possible solutions.
  4. Red Hat (10 secs): Using intuition, vote with hands on the most practical solution from the list.
  5. Yellow Hat (3 mins): Identify the benefits of the solution picked.
  6. Black Hat (3 mins): List the drawbacks and risks.
  7. Red Hat (10 secs): Get everybody's "Go/ No Go" gut feeling.
  8. Green Hat (3 mins): Identify means to overcome concerns raised under the Black Hat.
  9. Blue Hat (5 mins): Summarize and create an action plan. Adjourn the meeting.
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Discussions about Six Thinking Hats.


  Clarification: Team Process
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  Telecom Example of Six Thinking Hats
If a live subject can be discussed so that it is more clear how to use the Six Hat Thinking. May be (...)
 
 
 
 
  6 Thinking Hats are Rubbish
De Bono's 'Lateral thinking' was great stuff! The 'Thinking Hats' (and 'Different Kinds of Shoes', i (...)
 
 
 
 
  Everybody Should Wear More Than 1 Hat
I think every individual on the discussion could take a different role at a time (per session). Or m (...)
 
 
 
 
  Six Hats Great for Teaching at University
I am using a modified version of the 6 thinking hats when teaching at the university. And it works v (...)
 
 
 
 
  Taking Advantage of Conflicts in Group Decision Making
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  Switching Hats by Top Managers
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  Six Hats really great
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  Avoiding Groupthink with 6 Thinking Hats Process
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  Distorted Western Adversarial Thinking
A colleague recently shared a story that Edward De Bono told him at a lunch meeting. Apparently Edwa (...)
 
 
 
 
  Can Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Improve Thinking?
Suggestions have been made to use psychological instruments such as as an aid in with difficult pe (...)
 
 
 
 
  Current Status of Six Thinking Hats? Hot News
On Friday, May 18, 2012, Edward De Bono was the keynote speaker at the FinanceMalta annual conferenc (...)
 
 
 
 
  The Role of the Group Facilitator in Six Thinking Hats
The role of the group facilitator is very important: he distributes the hats and chooses the debate (...)
 
 
 
 
  Six Hats is Universally Applicable
The Six Hats concept is civilized, nonconfrontational, democratic, modern and universally acceptable (...)
 
 
 
 
  Conditions for 6 Thinking Hats. Assumptions
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  Six Thinking Hats for Instructional Design
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Hot How to Facilitate Mutual Understanding and Conflict Resolution
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  Six Thinking Hats for Software Testing at Google
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  Six Hats Certification
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  Additional 7th Thinking Hat?
A potential seventh thinking hat could be an Orange Hat: thinking of moving forward in a such way as (...)
 
 
 
 
  Six Thinking Hats is Great for Exploring All Points of View
I think that the six thinking hats is a good method to make sense and authorize all the thinking of (...)
 
 
 
 

Best Practices - Six Thinking Hats

Here you find the most valuable discussions from the past.


  Examples of Using Six Hats Thinking
Please give more examples about the 6 hats in different industries, especialy the IT field. (...)
 
 
 
 
  Techniques for Real Dialogue in Organisations
How does one get people to see the difference between advocacy and dialogue? Many conversations that (...)
 
 
 
 
  Wearing the Blue Hat
One 'rule' no-one has mentioned: when using the six thinking hats for a group thinking session or me (...)
 
 
 
 
  Challenging Plans or Ideas: The Ritual Dissent Approach
When facilitating strategic planning sessions, I often will use a Cognitive-Edge Inc. workshop metho (...)
 
 
 
 
  Systematic, Deliberate Thinking is not Easy to Do
Your friend Joe calls you to say a recruiter from another company has unexpectedly called and presen (...)
 
 
 
 
  Six Thinking Hats is Parallel Thinking
The Six Hats method is one simple and practical example of carrying out 'Parallel Thinking', describ (...)
 
 
 
 
  Instilling Constructive Participation: 15-minute Soliloquy
Another complementary possibility (besides the Six Thinking Hats) to instill constructive participat (...)
 
 
 
 
  Business Conflict Resolution
Under an earlier forum topic entitled "", there was a great discussion using Six Thinking Hats. This (...)
 
 
 
 
  Seventh Thinking Hat: Grey for Wisdom
Educator Michael Hewitt-Gleeson has suggested to add a 7th thinking hat: the Grey Hat for Wisdom. W (...)
 
 
 
 

Expert Tips - Six Thinking Hats

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Resources - Six Thinking Hats

Here you find powerpoint presentations, micro-learning videos and further information sources.


Six Thinking Hats

Short Presentation (...)
 

Overview Presentation

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Interview E. de Bono on Parallel Thinking and the 6 Thinking Hats

Initial Understanding of the 6 Thinking Hats in Trainings, Workshops (...)
 

Applying Creative Thinking to Complex Business Problem Solving

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Group Conflicts, Group Cohesion and Groupthink in Decision Making

Group Decision Making, Conflicts in Groups, Cohesion of Groups, Groupthink (...)
 

Individual Decision Making and Group Decision Making

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Group Decision Making: Using Team Conflict to Drive Performance

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Increasing Group Participation: The 3 I's of Participation

Increase Participation in Groups (Workshops, Trainings, Project Teams) (...)
 

Benefits of the 6 Thinking Hats

Initial Understanding of Benefits of the 6 Thinking Hats (...)
 

Six Thinking Hats Diagram

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Compare with Six Thinking Hats:  Groupthink  |  Spiral of Silence  |  Team Management Profile  |  Belbin Team Roles  |  Metaplan  |  Core Group Theory  |  Mind Mapping  |  Brainstorming  |  Delphi Method  |  Catalytic Mechanisms  |  Whole Brain Model  |  Scenario Planning  |  Game Theory  |  Root Cause Analysis  |  Dialectical Inquiry  |  Theory of Constraints  |  Force Field Analysis  |  Emotional Intelligence  |  Analogical Strategic Reasoning  |  Stage-Gate


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