People Innovation Excellence

Six Thinking Hats

by Yunita Wijaya Handranata, B.Eng., M.M.

There are various creative thinking methods and techniques. By developing good technique you’ll be a better creative thinker over time. The more often you practice, the better you will be. You’ll be able to use those thinking techniques more effectively and efficiently in the future.

Six Thinking Hats is a lateral thinking technique introduced by Edward de Bono in 1985 through his book, Six Thinking Hats: an Essential Approach to Business Management. Lateral thinking is the way of thinking to solve problems by disrupting an apparent thinking sequence, by using creative thinking approach.

There are six hats with different color that represent a specific thinking mode to encourage an active mental switch to take place. Often we do not aware of our thinking mode, our mind come up with emotions, intuitions, facts, and judgments all at the same time. Hence, this Six Thinking Hat method can help you to be more aware of your own thinking – that allows you to change your thinking in a conscious way.

White hat: information based thinking.
Think of: White paper.
White hat thinking mode influenced by knowledge, facts, and details. Access as many as possible related to a problem, challenge or task to guide your thinking. No judgment and interpretation during this stage.

Red hat: intuition, emotions, desires and feelings.
Think of: fire and warmth.
During red hat thinking mode, you have to listen to intuition, feelings, hunches and the emotions associated with the problem or task you are trying to solve.

Black hat: critical judgment.
Think of: a stern judge.
Black hat thinking mode is when the mind is in a cautious and logically negative mode. Consider what might not work and what obstacle might alter us from achieving goal. This type of thinking is easy to overuse.

Yellow hat: optimism / positive thinking.
Think of: sunshine.
See the problem and come up with as many positive ideas as possible. This type of thinking encourages a positive point of view when people often to think critical.

Green hat: possibilities / creative thinking.
Think of: vegetation and rich growth.
Green hat thinking mode lead to creative and imaginative way of thinking. You have to think out of the box to come up with unusual ideas. During this stage of thinking you should come with as many ideas as possible without judging.

Blue hat: process control.
Think of: the sky and overview.
Blue hat is different from the other hats. It doesn’t represent any specific direction of thinking, but controls the thinking mode itself. When using blue hat you behave as a moderator, that responsible for the timekeeping and for moving from one hat to another. You also have to decide which hat needs to be revisited. The outcome of this thinking mode is summaries, conclusions, and decisions.

Thomas Vogel (2014). Breakthrough Thinking: A Guide to Creative Thinking and Idea Generation. HOW Books. ISBN: 9781440333262.

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