Six Thinking Hats

Edward de Bono came up with the idea of the six thinking hats in order to help people to control their thinking and improve their decision-making (either individually or as a group). The main idea is that there are different types of thinking and that we can think more effectively if we concentrate on only one type of thinking at a time.

Blue Hat White Hat Yellow Hat Black Hat Green Hat Red Hat

Blue Hat

White Hat

Yellow Hat

Black Hat

Green Hat

Red Hat

thinking about thinking just the facts optimism caution new ideas emotional reactions
like the view from the sky like a blank sheet of paper like a sunny day like the robes of a judge like growing plants like fire
The blue hat controls all the other hats and is therefore the one that we should begin and end with. So often we just jump into the thinking process without paying attention to what we're doing. The goal of the six hats is to get us to slow down and think in a orderly manner. In a meeting, the blue hat will often be worn by the facilitator. They will begin the discussion by clearly stating the topic and then going through the other hats one by one. After the topic has been introduced, it's often good to start with the white hat. So often people like to begin by sharing their opinions but this can cause things to get emotional very quickly. Instead it's better to start with the facts instead. That way, there's a better chance that the group will stay on target and not waste time discussing things that may end up being useless (such as how to spend $1,000 when you actually only have $500). When considering an option, it's good to spend some time looking at the positive side of the plan such as the potential benefits and possible advantages. Even if, on the surface, an idea seems mostly to be a bad one, it is a good idea to spend at least some time trying to see the potential good in it before ripping it to shreds or throwing it away for good. Just like it's always good to try and see the positive, it's also just as important to search for negatives, even if there doesn't appear to be any. When wearing the black hat, we should proceed cautiously and carefully, thinking through any possible disadvantages of the idea. It is important to remember not to jump back and forth between the yellow and black hats. This often just leads to a fight between two people or sides. It's better to have everyone wear the yellow hat at the same time until all comments are finished and then switch to the black hat and do the same. So often we get stuck debating between two different options that we forget that there might be a third possibility. When putting on the green hat, we should be creative and try to come up with new solutions or at least a compromise between old ones. Sometimes the green hat is necessary early on in a meeting in order to get people to brainstorm for ideas but often it is also needed near the end when a discussion becomes stuck or keeps going around in circles. Although emotions are not logical, they are still important. A decision might make sense on paper, but if everybody feels horrible about it, it's probably not a good idea. The red hat is good to bring out near the end of a discussion to make sure that everybody feels comfortable with the decision that is about to be made. If they don't, it may be necessary to return to some of the other hats before finishing.

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