Six Thinking Hats

I was recently asked to talk at a lunch for local lady entrepreneurs on Prof Edward De Bono’s ” Six Thinking Hats ” technique for evaluating ideas and making decision and my experiences of using it.

Prof. De Bono’s basic contention, explored in a number of his works is that we are surrounded by more than enough information to achieve our ends but are hindered in capitalising on this by our inability to process this information efficiently. In the “Six Thinking Hats” he divides aspects of evaluation into six themes:

White – the factual analysis of the situation without any value judgements including an assessment of what further information might be required;

Red – the participants “gut feel” about the project without having to give any justification for their feelings;

Blue – organisation of the process and any necessary follow up;

Green – the generation of new ideas both obvious and creative;

Yellow – the benefits of any proposal and ideas as to how something could be made to work; and

Black – why something might not work, the identification of obstacles to be overcome

By concentrating our thinking on one aspect at a time Prof. De Bono believes we can use our time more efficiently, ensure everyone participates fully – even in areas that they might not consider their natural forte and assess ideas fairly without being influenced either overtly or subconsciously by the strength of our feelings with respect to other aspects. He suggests that it is not necessary to use all the “hats” on every occasion or to use them in any particular order and proposes ways in which to maximise the benefits of the exercise. In some circumstances he suggests it may be beneficial it may be beneficial to use a “hat” more than once.

This is a short book describing a simple and very versatile technique however Prof De Bono claims that some major corporations have used it to reduce meeting times by 75% and decision times by 90%. I have been using the technique successfully for many years and if you have not yet read the book I can heartily recommend it.

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