Six Hats Approach - Explained
What is the Six Hats Approach?
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What are the 6 Thinking Hats?
The Six Thinking Hats is a technique developed by Edward de Bono to explore different perspectives (emotional states and frames of mind) when facing a complex situation.
The objective is to simplify taking multiple approaches to a problem while also allowing individuals to assume a variety of perspectives.
How does the Six Thinking Hats Work?
There are six hats that represents a perspective toward a problem. The color of the hat is related to or associated with the perspective.
- White Hat: This hat represents an objective and neutral view of the situation. It focuses on the facts of the situation and figures representing information that is available. It also focuses upon information that is needed an how it might be obtained.
- Red Hat: This hat represents affect - such as emotions, feelings, intuition. It focuses on the quick expression of ideas without explanation.
- Black Hat: This is a strict, logic-based approach to a situation. There is logical, negative support for a position by using pessimistic, judgmental, and critical.
- Yellow Hat: This is a logic-based approach that is positive in nature. Positive logic tends to use support, optimism, benefits, and constructive input.
- Green Hat: The green hat approach is a creative approach that involves out-of-the box or lateral thinking. The focus is on change, innovation, invention; new ideas, possibilities, concepts, perceptions, paradigms.
- Blue Hat: This hat focuses on measured control of the thinking process. It provides controlled structure for how to think about the situation.
The idea is that a balanced team will wear all the hats or employ all the perspectives in an effort to consider all options available for a situation or scenario.
How to Use the Six Thinking Hats?
The 6 Thinking Hat technique can be used by an individual or a group in any situation that involves a complex situation or scenario. Any of the hats can be used randomly, or they can be used as a formal structured sequence.
Hats can be used in different sequences depending upon the situation. The facilitator generally wears the blue hat initially.
What is Parallel Thinking?
De Bono calls the act of deliberately having everyone wear the same hat at the same time Parallel Thinking. This employs group factual and emotional approaches to the problem while avoiding adversarial or argumentative situations.
What are the Advantages of the Six Thinking Hats Process?
- Allows one to say things without risk, and avoiding the spiral of silence.
- Creates awareness that there are multiple perspectives on the issue at hand.
- Provides a convenient mechanism for 'switching gears', thinking in deliberate different ways.
- Sets rules for the game of thinking.
- Temporarily focus thinking on one aspect.
- Helps individuals expand their thinking capacity by adopting a perspective that is not necessarily their own.
- Leads to more creative thinking through unhampered dialogue that builds on each other's contributions.
- Improves communication, since egos are not threatened and people are never personally attacked.
- Improves decision making, because attention is given to all aspects of a problem/opportunity (pros, cons, gains, risks, etc.)