Six Thinking Hats


Six Thinking Hats


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
  • Positive Judgement (Yellow) - logic applied to identifying benefits, seeking harmony
  • 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
  • Capture outputs
  • Evaluate progress
  • 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?
  • Avoid analysis
  • 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:
  • Defining problems
  • Listing constraints
  • 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:
  • Define advantages
  • 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
  • Do the same for the black hat phase
    • New ways of overcoming problems
    • New problems