What does it mean to put on a thinking hat?

So recently, I came across this book called ‘The Six Thinking Hats’ by Edward de Bono. De Bono is a physician and writer, well-known for being the originator of the term ‘Lateral Thinking’. The summary of this book on StoryShots really caught my attention.

So this idea about the six thinking hats is really interesting. You can perceive this in one of two ways (or even in both): individual thinking or group discussions. As an individual, you can put on each hat and brainstorm in peace or wear a single hat in a group and do your part. Each coloured hat has some contribution towards the topic/project you are working on.

The Blue Hat helps us preplan what the discussion is all going to be about — not the topic itself, just the outer skeleton or direction of the discussion. With the White Hat, you plan all the prerequisites or knowledge that you need to gather for the discussion — analogous to writing down on a white paper. The Red Hat should give us time to express our feeling on intricate details of the discussion without worrying about what the other hats (members of the groups) are thinking. Then comes the Black Hat which is just to criticize or point out negatives from the topic. The Yellow Hat on the contrary is for discussing the positives of the topic at hand. Finally, the green hat is for finding solutions that the black and white hat bring up on to the horizon.

Let’s say the discussion is about a movie. Here is how each hat would perceive the situation:

  • Blue Hat: Putting this hat on, we only plan out what specifics about the movie we are going to talk about and not the movie itself. The director, producer, cast, theme, and story of the movie could be the topics of discussion that the blue hat could bring up.
  • White Hat: Gathering information on all topics that the blue hat helps us discover is our aim now. The White Hat gathers all information available on the topics listed above.
  • Red Hat: This is where the discussion goes live and giving one or many members of the group a chance to talk about their personal take on each part of the movie, cast, or crew.
  • Black Hat: The Black Hat’s job is not only to criticize but to find negatives in even the most positive aspects discussed about the movie.
  • Yellow Hat: On the contrary, the White Hat’s job is to find something positive about even the most negative aspects of the movie being discussed.
  • Green Hat: The Green Hat’s job is to now find a solution that adheres to everyone. Doesn’t always have to be a solution and could be a conclusive statement regarding the Black Hat and Yellow Hat’s thinking.

Replace the movie with any group discussion topic and this could be an awesome brainstorming procedure. Not every member of the group has to wear or stick to one hat. Every member could get a chance to put on the hat and speak their mind. If you are an individual doing all the thinking yourself, these six thinking hats method could help you from getting overwhelmed by your own thoughts.

Buy ‘The Six Thinking Hats’ by Edward de Bono on Amazon or Read/Listen to the Summary of the Book for free on StoryShots

~Aditya Darekar

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