Six Hats Thinking technique enables you to break out of your habitual
thinking style and make better quality decisions. Six Hats Thinking
was created by Edward
De Bono with the aim of looking at the effect of a decision
from a number of important, different perspectives, and modifying
your decision accordingly. This decision making approach can be
successfully used individually or in a group.
In short, you consider the effect of a decision by wearing six "hats",
and in turn, articulating the aspirations and concerns of each group.
This is the data hat, where you consider facts, figures and information,
identify any gaps in your knowledge and either fill or acknowledge
them. For example, you use historical data or case studies to predict
future behaviour, or do a cost
This is the emotional hat, where intuition, instinct and irrational
responses are considered.
Is the negative, pessimistic, "the world is going to end" hat. This
viewpoint is useful as flaws and assumptions can be flushed out
and addressed, and contingency plans prepared.
Is the polar opposite of the black hat, where optimism prevails.
This is where benefits and added value are considered.
The Green Hat is used to put some creativity into the process. What
other options exist? Is there a trickier, smarter solution?
Is the hat worn by the person facilitating the decision making process,
ensuring each hat is worn in turn and gets a fair amount of air-time.
Here's an example of how Six Hats Thinking can be used.
A small training company are deciding on whether to deliver online
training. This is new territory for them as they have historically
only done face to face training. However, they need to grow the
business and think this is what customers want.
White Hat Thinking
The team look at their finances and see face to face training numbers
are generally stagnant, and declining for some courses. Feedback
from customers suggest a growing proportion would prefer a training
solution that could be delivered "on demand", wherever and whenever
the trainee requires. There are already a considerable number of
successful training companies with an online presence.
Red Hat Thinking
The team are nervous about their lack of experience in managing
online training. They are concerned their roles will change into
being technical support and no longer doing what they enjoy or are
Black Hat Thinking
Black hat thinking flushes out concerns about the cost and complexity
of building a website and creating an online training platform,
particularly if not all courses are suited to an online environment.
Also, how does this project fit with existing workload?
Yellow Hat Thinking
Yellow hat thinking frees the team up to believe that in a year's
time they will be wondering what they were worried about. They break
the project up into manageable chunks, with agreed deadlines and
deliverables. They realise that if all goes to plan, there may be
a new market in turning other companies training from off-line into
Green Hat Thinking
Spending some time wearing the green hat makes the team consider
other ways to deliver training, both off and on-line. They create
two different training solutions which they had not previously considered.
Blue Hat Thinking
Throughout the discussion, one person wears the blue hat, ensuring
no thinking style dominates or colours the others.
Six Hats Thinking forces you to consider many different perspectives
when making a decision, and break out of your habitual thinking
style. This technique is particularly useful for both newly formed,
or established teams, as there is a transparent decision making
process to be followed.
Owner, Management for the Rest of Us
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Understanding decision making psychology can enable you to reach a
conclusion quicker. Whether it's choosing a holiday destination, or
project to fund, you'll find this outline of decision making psychology
a useful addition to your management toolkit.
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What is ethical? Decision making can be hard enough but when we have
to consider ethics and decision making we can tie ourselves up so
tight we stop making decisions entirely. Here is a short guide to
help you through the ethics maze and make effective decisions.