De Bono coined the term ‘lateral thinking’ and has written more than 50 books about the subject. He developed a problem solving technique called ‘Six Hats.’ Basically it’s an approach that forces you to consider different approaches to a problem by adopting different personalities. If you’re on your own you’ll be all 6, if you’re in a group you can assign roles to participants.
This is the deal.
What you should know
Six Thinking Hats makes you look at the effects of a decision from different points of view. It also helps you to spot different opportunities and makes you more sensitive to their impact.
Decisions often tend to be based on rationalization and clearly defined facts. This probably sounds like a good thing! But what it does is exclude healthy skepticism and banish emotion. When this happens a decision has not been pulled, pushed and shaped into the best possible decision and given all considerations.
When decision makers wear different hats they invite an element of creativity into the process ensuring a more holistic approach.
The exercise can either be used to force people to change their typical thinking habits or can be used to validate someone’s personality.
Many successful people think from a very rational, positive viewpoint, and this is part of the reason that they are successful. Often, though, they may fail to look at problems from emotional, intuitive, creative or negative viewpoints. This can mean that they underestimate resistance to change, don’t make creative leaps, and fail to make essential contingency plans.
Similarly, pessimists may be excessively defensive, and people used to a very logical approach to problem solving may fail to engage their creativity or listen to their intuition. http://www.deBonoConsulting.com
Just Use It!
Imagine wearing each hat yourself and applying the characteristics that go with it. If you’re in a group of 6, each person can have a role according to the hats. Have fun allocating personalities to each other.
- White Hat:Your task is to focus on data. Look at the information and see what you can learn from it. Look for gaps and either try to fill them or take them into consideration. Ask for additional information and consider what happened in the past. Do patterns emerge? Can you identify trends causes?
- Red Hat:
You look at the decision using intuition, passion, gut reaction, and emotion. Imagine how other people will respond, and try to understand the intuitive responses of people who do not yet understand your reasoning.
- Black Hat:
Look at things pessimistically, cautiously and defensively. Your role is to explain why ideas or particular approaches might not work. You’ll highlight the gaps in the planning. This allows you to resolve potential problems, adapt the approach, or have contingency plans for any problem that arises.
- Yellow Hat:
Be positive and optimistic. Focus on inherent benefits, values and opportunities that could arise. In a group setting, you will keep everyone’s spirits high and lead them back to the positive when people seem stuck. Positive possibilities are good foundations for problem solving and decision making.
- Green Hat:
Awesomeness! The Green Hat means creativity. Be bold and dangerous, apply your imagination and try silencing rationality for a change. Don’t focus on what could never happen – rather think about the ‘what if’ possibilities. Do what ever you need to do to enable yourself to freely express ideas.
- Blue Hat:
You commandeer the session and ensure that all hats are sharing ideas and engaging with their roles. Do what ever it takes to stimulate and enable the discussion. Have fun – do not be all stuffy and ‘suit-like’ – you’ll kill it!
I hope you have an opportunity to put this activity to the test. It’s also great to use if you often have personality clashes during discussions. You can really twist people’s way of approaching situations when you assign them to a role that is not at all like their normal personality!