Thursday, December 10, 2015

Putting on different hats to find better solutions

In the whole time that I've been writing this blog - 6 year now - I've never written about de Bono's Thinking Hats, a strategy that was devised around 30 years ago to help groups to take on different roles and to think together more effectively.  The 6 coloured hats represent 6 different roles that we play on teams - each of which can be beneficial.  Most people tend to have one dominant thinking colour, with one or two others colours close behind.  Here are the different hats:
  • White - a logical thinker who is drawn to facts and figures
  • Green - a creative thinker who likes generating and trying out new ideas but may not think through the consequence of these ideas
  • Red - an emotional person who often has hunches and gut reactions and is intuitive when making decisions
  • Blue - an organised person, often the person who is managing the process and to stand back and look at the bigger picture
  • Black - a person playing the devil's advocate and pointing out what might go wrong, someone who is cautious, critical thinking and conservative
  • Yellow - someone who wants everyone to be happy and the group to be harmonious, the optimist who is looking for the positives and benefits and for ways of making something work
The Six Hats model is useful for group work as you can collectively decide what hat to "put on" and look at an issue that way.  For example during a brainstorming session the group might decide they all need to put on their green hats, whereas later the team can decide they need to put on blue hats in order to plan on a process.  I was thinking about this in terms of planning a school trip.  A green hat might be needed to think about different places to go, a blue hat when planning the logistics of getting there, and a black hat for risk assessment.

I think you probably need people wearing all these hats on a productive team.  Thinking about myself, the 3 hats I tend to wear the most are the green, black and blue hats.  I could definitely work on becoming more of a logical thinker (white hat).  I think the value of this model is that you can deliberately decide to imagine that you are wearing different hats which means you will think about a problem from different perspectives.  Hopefully this will result in a wider range of possible solutions.

Photo Credit: lisaclarke via Compfight cc

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