“Creativity is not for testers!”… and now that I have your attention :) let’s move to the real post.  

Six Thinking Hats

Some time ago I purchased a book written by Dr. Edward de Bono about Parallel Thinking, also known as “The Six Thinking Hats”.

Briefly said, parallel thinking is a technique that makes use of our greatest resource, thinking, interested yet? Well, basically the purpose of this technique is allowing everyone involved to think in such a way that people will switch out of their usual track to think differently about any matter or subject at hand, with everyone involved looking at it from the same point of view one side at a time.

It permits from emotion to skepticism brought into the discussion or meeting, opening up the opportunity for using and exercising your creativity muscle for making decisions, solving problems, or coming up with the best next idea.

So, you may be wondering, “Ok, sounds nice in theory, but, what if an argument arises? What if I disagree with someone else’s statement even if we both look at it from the same perspective?” Actually, those are pretty good questions, I pondered about that myself, yet again, when in parallel thinking no matter how contradictory two or more points of view may be, those are put in parallel, there is no need to prove that an opposing party is wrong, that is why each participant throughout the influence of a hat, should speak what’s in their mind about it.

Creative thinking is about thinking productively, for instance, let’s say we are faced with a dilemma, we should ask ourselves how many different ways of looking at that very same problem we can think of, how many ways of re-thinking about it, how many ways of solving it, etc., etc. The objective is reaching different responses from a same perspective having everyone participating under the influence of the same hat each time, putting everyone’s experience to use working in the same direction.

Now, let’s move to a brief explanation about the Hats and its Colours. As mentioned earlier, there are six hats with one different colour each, additionally, not only the colour provides the name for the hat, but also indicates the type of thinking required under the influence of each hat.

The hats were conceived in colours to make thinking easier, to make the thinking process more visual, so next, you will find the so promised:

  • White Hat: It is neutral and objective. It is concerned with objective facts, figures and data available, it makes everyone look at the information you have available, and see what everyone can learn from it.

  • Red Hat: Its colour suggests anger (seeing red), rage, emotions, intuition. It gives the emotional point view. While under its influence, people look at problems using what we could call our “gut reaction”. It is very good to try to think of solutions and ideas thinking about how other people would react emotionally.

  • Black Hat: Black is somber and serious, careful and spots weaknesses in ideas. Let’s see, as with the other hats, people should use this type of thinking for so long as every party is under its influence. It should be used to highlight flaws, and better prepare for them either eliminating them, altering them, or building mitigation plans. So basically put, it should be used to make your ideas tougher, and even more resilient so you are not under-prepared for problems.

  • Yellow Hat: It is positive, optimistic. It covers positive thinking, optimism and hope. This point of view should be used to see all possible benefits and value in a decision, even though, it is one of those difficult decisions to make.

  • Green Hat: The green hat represents grass, abundance, indicates creativity and new ideas. This is the freeway for people to exercise creativity, even, link parallel thinking with another concept also developed by Dr. Edward de Bono, known as Lateral Thinking.

  • Blue Hat: Blue is the colour of the sky, and so it needs to be used as the one hat, which controls every point above everything else, it is concerned with putting together the thinking process and the use of the other hats. This is the hat which is worn both at the beginning and at the end of meetings. Also, under this hat’s influence, the moderator may ask people to engage into using another particular hat because one of its characteristics is needed, for instance, if going out of ideas, the moderator under the blue hat’s influence could direct everyone into going under the Green Hat’s influence to think creatively, or under the Red Hat’s influence for asking opinion based on intuition, emotion, gut reaction, etc.