Improving your creativity might just mean putting on a new hat and gaining new perspective on your problems or opportunities.
That’s the idea behind Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono which uses six colored hats to help groups generate ideas in a more specific and cohesive way and to produce more effective thinking.
De Bono believes that the human brain thinks in a number of distinct ways which can be deliberately challenged. This method can enable a person to develop ways to think differently about particular issues.
He identifies six distinct ways that challenge the brain. In each way, the brain will identify and bring into conscious thought parts of issues being considered (e.g. instinct, intuition, pessimism, logic, judgments, facts, etc.).
None of these completely represent natural ways of thinking, but show how some of us already think. Since the hats do not reflect our natural thinking, each hat must be used for a limited time. For some, using the hats seems unnatural, uncomfortable, counter-productive and against their better judgment. That might be the reason this process really works.
The six distinct directions of thinking, hats and colors:
- Facilitator (Blue) — Every thought sequence begins and ends here. This hat is where the group agrees together how they will think, begin thinking and then evaluate the outcomes of that thinking and what they should do next.
- Information (White) — Considers purely and simply what information is available; what are the facts?
- Emotions (Red) — Uses intuitive or instinctive gut reactions or statements of emotional feeling, but not any rationale.
- Discernment (Black) — Involves logic applied to identifying reasons for cautious and conservative actions.
- Optimistic response (Yellow) — Provides logic applied to identifying benefits and pursuing harmony.
- Creativity (Green) — Offers statements that provoke and stimulate investigation and watching where a thought goes.
This thinking may be used by individuals working alone or in groups. Here is the secret of Six Thinking Hats:
- In typical and unstructured thinking, the process is unfocused. The thinker leaps from critical thinking to neutrality to optimism and other thoughts without structure or strategy.
- The Six Hats process attempts to introduce parallel thinking. Most people are used to a Six Hats way of thinking and unconsciously develop their own habits, which might be effective. Even so, when thinking in a group, these individual strategies tend not to converge, and thinking and discussion will not converge.
- Due to ego power and the tendency to most culture’s black hat thinking, unparalleled thinking can lead to very destructive meetings.
- There is a natural tendency for “spaghetti thinking” even with good courtesy and clear shared objectives in any collaborative thinking activity. This is when one person is thinking about the benefits while another considers the facts and so on. The hats’ process avoids this; in this different method, everyone will think in the same way at the same time.
Remember: The hats are not a description but a way to look at things. Therefore, such methodology aids in better creation of ideas. Why? Because it is based on creating a system rather than an adversarial confrontational thinking system where somebody has the opposing position. Thanks to colleague Tim Cronin for introducing me to Edward de Bono.
How can you switch hats and boost your creativity?
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