Dr. De Bono suggests there are six types of thinking that you unconsciously use every day. Each metaphorical hat represents one of those six ways of thinking. A person wearing an imaginary White Hat focuses on factual information, a Yellow Hat on positive perspective, a Black Hat on caution and risk, a Green Hat on creativity, a Red Hat on emotions and intuition, and a Blue Hat on control, overview and organization.
- White Hat: Neutral and objective — pure facts and figures — what we know and want to know.
- Yellow Hat: Optimism, values and benefits — why it will work — symbolizes sunshine, brightness and optimism - positive and constructive
- Black Hat: Judgment, devil’s advocate — why it will not work — risk assessment — caution, not argument — critical negative judgment
- Green Hat: Possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas — symbolizes fertility, growth and the value of creative thinking
- Red Hat: Feelings, hunches, intuition — legitimizes emotions and feelings — “This is how I feel.”
- Blue Hat: Managing the thinking process — the "control hat" — sets the focus — defines the problems and shapes the questions
In my experience, Six Hats is a technique best used to help you consider one possible alternative solution at a time. It is not a self-contained meeting process. It is not exclusively a creative thinking process. It is a sequence of six very helpful questions.
Used correctly, the process encourages people to separate fact from opinion, to look fully at both positive and negative opinions and to get hidden agendas that can sabotage any meeting on the table. It stimulates their innate creativity and helps them discover how to turn seemingly insoluble problems into real opportunities.
Used correctly, the hats keep your different kinds of thinking separated, focused and controlled. They enable you to evaluate situations by consciously switching in and out of the six thinking modes (hats). This process teaches an individual to look at decisions and problems systematically.
Each meeting participant uses the same hat color at the same time together. Used correctly, the hats keep your different kinds of thinking separated, focused and controlled. Incorrect use would have each person with their own different color hat sharing their ideas only when their hat is being considered. Using the Six Hats simultaneously is chaos.
Dr de Bono’s work is all over the world and all over the internet. There are thousands of references to both his helpful ideas and the many successes his students have enjoyed. Lots of entries on You Tube.
A complete listing of the hats and their uses is also available in de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats or Serious Creativity.
I do recommend that anyone wanting to use these ideas seriously seek out one of the many resources providing valuable training in the use of Dr. de Bono’s ideas. I have seen few groups who have only "read the book" realize the full benefits of his approaches.
Book: Imagine – Ideation Skills for Improvement and Innovation Today, Chapter 7, available on Amazon.
Independent trainer and meeting facilitator John Canfield helps clients build high performance business teams. Find out more about he can help your company or organization at http://www.johncanfield.com and www.goodthinkingseries.com. Call or write 616-283-5588 | firstname.lastname@example.org