Collaboration is required component for innovation. Thinking about challenges and opportunities from different points of view is absolutely necessary.
“Six Thinking Hats” developed by Edward de Bono, is a powerful tool for masterminding a problem or opportunity. For those who may not know, de Bono is regarded by many to be the leading global authority in the field of creative thinking and the direct teaching of thinking as a skill.
When appropriate to the discussion, I use the Thinking Hats technique in our brand transformation workshops when we're seeking to validate ideas. When diverse people are all thinking in the same room at the same time, there can be tension and a tendency to go with the strongest voices in the room.
Six Thinking Hats is a powerful tool because it inspires transparent and inclusive parallel thinking.
Next time you have a group problem solving session, try using the Six Thinking Hats to improve the quality of your thinking and decision-making that follows.
Each “Thinking Hat” is a metaphor for a different style of thinking:
With this thinking hat, you focus on the raw information at hand. It’s about the facts and nothing but the facts. Look at the data and see what you can learn from it. Look for gaps in your knowledge, and either try to fill them or take account of them. This is where you analyze past trends, and try to extrapolate from historical data.
Wearing the red hat, you look at the decision using intuition, gut reaction, and emotion. What are you afraid of? 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.
Black hat thinking is cautious and defensive. It’s our common tendency to be the devil’s advocate, pointing out the flaws and why an idea won’t work. This is important because it highlights the weak points in a plan or course of action. It allows you to eliminate them, alter your approach, or prepare contingency plans to counter problems that arise down the road. Black Hat thinking helps you spot fatal flaws and risks before you embark on a course of action. Black Hat thinking is one of the real benefits of this technique, as many people tend to think too positively and under-estimate complexity, leaving them under-prepared for difficulties.
The yellow hat helps you to think positively. It is the optimistic viewpoint that helps you to see all the benefits of an idea and the value in it, and spot the opportunities that arise from it. Yellow Hat thinking helps you to keep going when everything looks dark and difficult.
The Green Hat stands for creativity. This is where you can develop unbridled creative solutions to a problem. It is a freewheeling way of thinking, in which there is little criticism of ideas. Green hat thinking is about possibility and potential with no limits and no logic.
The Blue Hat stands for process control. This is the hat worn by whom ever is facilitating your discussion. When ideas are running dry, or there a blocks in your process, the Blue Hat referees and can decide to move the conversation into any other thinking hat mode that keeps the thinking alive and moving.
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