Dr. Edward De Bono created what is known as the 6 Thinking Hats. This name is derived from the metaphor “to put on different hats” – which means that someone looks at the same issue from different perspectives. This type of technique is used to help someone make a decision, by looking at it from different angles.
Each “Thinking Hat” is a different style of thinking. Which are:
- White Hat: with this thinking hat, you focus on the available data. Look at the information that you have, analyze past trends, and see what you can learn from it. Look for gaps in your knowledge, and try to either fill them or take account of them. So if you’re trying to buy property – what are the trends right now, is there a lot of maisonettes and less terraced houses? Is the market value shooting up? Are economists envisioning a crash in the market?
- Red Hat: “wearing” the Red Hat, you look at problems using your intuition, gut reaction, and emotion. Also, think how others could react emotionally. Try to understand the responses of people who do not fully know your reasoning. What if you wait too long and the value keeps going up? What is the risk of the convenium being dissolved?
- Black Hat: using Black Hat thinking, look at a decision’s potentially negative outcomes. Look at it cautiously and defensively. Try to see why it might not work. This is important because it highlights the weak points in a plan. It allows you to eliminate them, alter them, or prepare contingency plans to counter them.
Black Hat thinking helps to make your plans “tougher” and more resilient. It can also help you to spot fatal flaws and risks before you embark on a course of action. It’s one of the real benefits of this model, as many successful people get so used to thinking positively that they often cannot see problems in advance. This leaves them under-prepared for difficulties.
- Yellow Hat: this hat helps you to think positively. It is the optimistic viewpoint that helps you to see all the benefits of the decision and the value in it. Yellow Hat thinking helps you to keep going when everything looks gloomy and difficult.
- Green Hat: the Green Hat represents creativity. This is where you develop creative solutions to a problem. It is a freewheeling way of thinking, in which there is little criticism of ideas.
- Blue Hat: this hat represents process control. It’s the hat worn by people chairing meetings, for example. When facing difficulties because ideas are running dry, they may direct activity into Green Hat thinking. When contingency plans are needed, they will ask for Black Hat thinking. So by wearing the blue hat, you are being versatile and thinking about the other hats.
Mel McElhatton holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Malta. With Willingness, Mel does life coaching and is one of the facilitators in the IRL – In Real Life team. They are also the producer of the radio show Niddiskutu s-Sess. They can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.