In my book list review for 2015 I included the book, The Six Thinking Hats by Edward De Bono. I was surprised when I participated in a webinar on creativity and discovered that the primary content covered was the six thinking hats approach as a way to respond to change.
In a rapidly changing environment, creativity is a key attribute needed to recognize opportunities and be ready to adapt.
What do you see?In the webinar, we were asked the question, "How creative are you?" After rating our creativity levels, the presenter shared several images to solicit our input on what we saw. Here are the images that we studied:
PerceptionsThe presenter used this exercise to introduce the paradigm of different perspectives. Each participant noticed different details, and we could not agree on the number of faces in the third image. How many do you see?
Another exercise was also simple: how many uses can you think of for a paperclip? Obviously, a paperclip is designed to fasten papers together, but it can also be used as a key, to clean out your ears (as more than one person responded), a temporary fastener for clothing, a tool to open CD/DVD drives (and the SIM card tray on your smart phone).
The presenter used these examples to illustrate that each of us is creative and able to see the same situation from different perspectives. This was an excellent transition into the six thinking hats.
Six Thinking HatsEdward De Bono developed the concepts of hats, probably based on the saying, "She wears a lot of hats," meaning that one person can hold many roles. The six hats approach quantifies perspectives about a particular situation into six hats, each represented by a different color.
Designed for individual thinking and group interactions, the six hats, when taken as a whole, allow a group to think about all aspects of a problem, situation, or opportunity. When "wearing" each hat, consider the situation only from that perspective.
- White refers to the objective analysis of facts.
- Red refers to feelings and emotions. Intuition, exploration of positive and negative emotions should be discussed while wearing the red hat. Especially in business situations, there may be a tendency to minimize feelings, but it is necessary to acknowledge the existence of feelings about a particular situation.
- Black refers to the evaluation of risks and barriers, a critical judgment while keeping a holistic view. Think about the hazards and other negative connotations to identify potential problems before they arise.
- Yellow refers to an optimistic view where opportunities and benefits are explored. Analyze the benefits of options to improve a situation.
- Green refers to new ideas. Brainstorming without censoring ideas helps get additional input from the group. As always with brainstorming, quantity is better than quality. Once many ideas have been generated then they can be reviewed for quality.
- Blue refers to the big picture. Focus on the goal. In the 7 Habits paradigm developed by Stephen Covey, this is Habit 2, "begin with the end in mind."
Whenever you are evaluating an opportunity or problem, take some time to try the six thinking hats approach.