Six thinking hats
Perception is reality
I am very lucky to have a big garden. However, it produces a lot of vegetation to dispose of. Over time, piles would grow, awaiting the next opportunity for a bonfire. I’d pick a drizzly evening to limit the chance of the fire getting out of hand. Inevitably, it got very smoky. Too smoky sometimes. On one occasion, through billowing smoke, a neighbour walked into my garden and complained. I apologised and extinguished the fire. Time to put my thinking hat on and come up with a better approach to the ongoing biomass challenge. I considered various options and took different perspectives. My chosen solution was to buy some large reusable garden waste bags and take regular trips to the local recycling centre. Both my neighbours and the environment breathed a sigh of relief.
🎩 Six thinking hats
The simple process of focusing on things that are normally taken for granted is a powerful source of creativity. - Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono developed a powerful tool to improve problem solving which he called the Six Thinking Hats. Each hat represents a particular perspective to take. Switching hats helps ensure we consider multiple angles and avoid polarised thinking. The six hats are:
🔴 Red Hat: Emotion. When wearing the red hat, express feelings and intuitions about the situation.
⚫️ Black Hat: Caution and criticism. Look for problems and potential risks.
⚪️ White Hat: Fact and information. Focus on the facts of the situation, without emotion or opinion.
🟡 Yellow Hat: Optimism and positivity. Explore the benefits and opportunities of the situation.
🟢 Green Hat: Creativity and new ideas. Let the imagination run wild and come up with new and innovative solutions.
🔵 Blue Hat: Control and organisation. Take a step back and look at the big picture. Plan the thinking process and stay on track.
Applying the Six Thinking Hats approach helps me think more clearly, come up with fresh ideas, communicate more effectively and make better decisions. I find it important to switch hats sufficiently frequently to avoid getting stuck in one way of thinking.
👨🏼🎓 Using six thinking hats
We may have a perfectly adequate way of doing something, but that does not mean there cannot be a better way. So we set out to find an alternative way. - Edward de Bono
I use the Six Thinking Hats approach in many situations, including:
Problem solving: When considering my garden biomass problem, I systematically considered aspects of the problem.
Decision making: I prioritise decisions by urgency and importance, applying the Eisenhower Decision Matrix. For the most important, I make Better Decisions in 6 Steps, starting by identify possible decisions and their possible outcomes.
Creativity: Wearing different thinking hats and applying unconventional logic helps me Find Counterintuitive Solutions and topics to write about in this blog.
➕ Other Resources
How to Live interview with Derek Sivers
Three Questions to Solve Any Problem talk by Phil Dobson
Five Lateral Thinking Techniques post by Phil Martin
Edward de Bono had a big impact on how I think about thinking. As he said, Thinking is the ultimate human resource.
I take my hat off to Edward de Bono.