Intentional Leaders Podcast with Cyndi Wentland

Strengthen Critical Thinking & Collaboration with the 6 Thinking Hats

March 15, 2022 Episode 61
Intentional Leaders Podcast with Cyndi Wentland
Strengthen Critical Thinking & Collaboration with the 6 Thinking Hats
Show Notes

How often do you have the same old meeting, the same old discussion? You know the one, negative Nelly is well, as brooding as always, because we’re still virtual half of our attendees are multitasking, you are pulling every trick out of the book to engage people in the discussion…because you want their insights….and you need their input.

It's time. Time for a new strategy, and one that is so easy to implement. You will love it. It’s called the 6Thinking Hats.

Developed by Dr. Edward de Bono in the early 80’s, a Maltese physician, psychologist and philosopher.  This technique encourages critical thinking, and also results in engagement and collaboration.

Here’s how it works. Each of 6 hats represent a different lens in which a participant(s) approaches the problem, discussion or decision.

White Hat: Is about information and data. This perspective is neutral and objective.

  • Answer who, what, when and where?
  • What do we know?
  • What are the facts?
  • What is the evidence?
  • What information is needed?

Green Hat: Is all about creative thinking. The focus is on ideas, alternatives and possibilities. 

  • What if we…?
  • How can we make this work?
  • What alternatives have we not explored?

Red Hat: The purpose of the red hat is to focus on feelings and instincts/intuition.  The expression of feelings doesn’t require explanation or rationalization. 

  • What are your feelings about this?
  • What bothers you?
  •  What does your gut tell you?
  • What biases are present?

Yellow Hat: This hat is focused on the benefits and values, why the idea/solution will work. While it is focused on the positive, there are also reasons given (versus just a sunny disposition or generalized positivity).

  • How will this be beneficial?
  • What value will this provide to others?
  • What would be the most positive outcome?

Black Hat: The black hat is about caution and risk. It’s about identifying difficulties, dangers and weaknesses in the plans and/or decisions. While it is about spotting risk, it’s also about applying logic (versus red hat).

  • Why won’t this work?
  • What are the negative consequences?
  • What will be most difficult?
  • What are the risks?

Blue Hat: This hat is about managing the collective thinking; organization and planning.  It is focused on thinking about the quality of thinking and the information, actions and/or decisions made. It is also about planning for actions.

  • What is the main idea being discussed?
  • What is the sequence of events and/or actions?
  • What is the conclusion?
  • What is our action plan?

I’m asked should the hats be assigned based on participants natural strengths? Know your group and your purpose. If you’re in a hurry, assign to what people are naturally good at. When you are trying to broaden thinking and skills, provide an opportunity outside of an individual’s’ natural comfort zone. For me, that might be the black hat. I don’t like to focus on the negative elements of a solution and/or decision, but often miss out on identifying and preventing risks and consequences that could occur. I can strengthen this mental muscle on purpose and it would broaden my perspective.

This technique offers so many benefits:  improving the completeness of the thinking of the group by providing a comprehensive structure, it inspires creativity, and encourages engagement and inclusivity.  And by using this technique you will also strengthen communication skills—as it drives listening, 

Last but not least…it can be fun.