One of the issues with groups of people trying to think creatively is that individuals will criticise the ideas of others and derail creative thinking. The Six Thinking Hats was a tool developed by Dr. Edward de Bono to aid effective discussions and thinking by aligning everyone in one of six states of mind:
Neutrality (White) - considering purely what information is available, what are the facts?
Feeling (Red) - instinctive gut reaction or statements of emotional feeling (but not any justification)
Negative judgement (Black) - logic applied to identifying flaws or barriers, seeking mismatch
Creative thinking (Green) - statements of provocation and investigation, seeing where a thought goes
Process control (Blue) - thinking about thinking
It is very easy when considering a subject to jump to your preferred conclusion. De Bono's six thinking hats gives you a systematic way of considering the subject from different perspectives (using different states of mind) and in doing so to be more complete and effective.
Dr de Bono proposes that there are five distinct states of the brain each with its own distinct chemical state. In each state the brain will focus on different aspects of the subject being discussed (no evidence of the brain states was presented).
Blue Hat - The Big Picture
Under this hat the participants focus on the thinking process itself:
What is the objective
Who is going to facilitate
Decide on any change of plan
White Hat - Facts and Information
Participants are asked to focus on making statements of fact:
What information do you have (define what is involved, changes over time, physical locations etc)?
When you analyze the information what can you conclude?
Are there gaps in the information?
You avoid giving your interpretation - facts only
Red Hat - Intuition, Feelings and Emotion
When wearing the red hat participants focus on what their intuition, feelings and gut is telling them:
What are your immediate reactions, thoughts, ideas?
Capture output quickly for example use post-it notes
This phase of the six thinking hats process can be over quickly once the first wave of output has been captured. It may be worth returning to the red hat phase again and add to.
Black Hat - Critical Judgement
During the black hat phase the focus is on discussing the negative aspects of a situation:
Identifying who looses and will oppose the idea/solution
Asses the relative weakness of the proposed solutions
Yellow Hat - Positive
The yellow hat shifts the focus to exploring the benefits of a potential solution:
List what can be leveraged to give the solution a boost
Identify who will benefit and support the idea/solution
Asses the relative strength of the proposed solution
Green Hat - New Ideas
When wearing the green hat the idea is to think new thoughts. To take the output of other stages and use it to provoke new ideas and new possibilities:
Review the output of the yellow hat phase for new ideas