Human mind is amazing. Our cognitive skills are out of this world, but we have an issue. Whenever we try to assess a challenge or an opportunity, quite frequently we get in love with our initial thought about it and “anchor” ourselves to this initial idea that came to our mind when we started discussing the topic.
Edward de Bono, the father of “lateral thinking”, created a framework to systematically analyze opportunities and challenges with a structured process to ensure that we take into consideration every perspective. It was called “Six Thinking Hats”.
The premise of the method is to challenge our way of thinking sequentially, to bring into conscious thought every aspect of the topic under discussion.
Blue hat – The “big picture”
White hat – Information and hard facts
Red hat – The feelings and emotions
Black hat – The negative perspective
Yellow hat – The positive perspective
Green hat – The world of the new ideas
The key to a successful Six Thinking Hats session is focusing the discussion on a particular mental mode (symbolized by the color of the hat) at any time. The order when using the different hats depends on the nature of the discussion. A quite effective one could be the one that would lead to exploring the challenge, developing several potential solutions and agreeing on a decision.
Blue (understand the topic) –> Red (capture feeling and emotions) –> Green (explore potential solutions) –> White (discuss hard facts and assumptions) –> Yellow (capture pros) –> Black (capture cons).
The beauty of this method is that because everyone is focused on a mental mood at any one time, the group tends to be more collaborative.
Have you tried this technique when discussing a new opportunity or challenge? What was your experience? I have been practicing it during the summer break with great success and I’m planning to do it more frequently in the months to come. By the way, if you have kids it works fantastic with them.
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