An introduction to ‘Six Hats’ thinking
Compared to unstructured brainstorming, Dr Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats method has been proven to reduce how long it takes to generate inspirational and innovative ideas.
Entrepreneurialism is about out-thinking your competitors, not out-spending them. And when it comes to thinking about thinking, who better to turn to than international authority Dr de Bono, who has written more than 60 books on the subject?
What is thinking anyway?
Thinking produces new ideas. But ideas are just that: ideas. They’re not outcomes or achievements.
Some people mistakenly define thinking as simply problem solving. Problem solving is only one small aspect of thinking, and only occurs when a problem has been identified. Problem solving is excellent but it’s not enough, because if there’s nothing wrong then there is no problem to solve and no new ideas will be generated.
"Since small business owners are used to wearing many hats, I think the Six Hats method of thinking should come naturally to us!"
Good ideas can save your business money, increase profits and enhance market share, so generating and developing cutting edge ideas can be significantly beneficial to your business.
Organise your thinking with the Six Hats method
Dr de Bono teaches a thinking tool known as the Six Hats (or Thinking Hats) method, which can be used for individual thinking, brainstorming sessions, or by your advisory board.
It’s a constructive methodical and organised method of doing something that is quite abstract: thinking. Since small business owners are used to wearing many hats, I think the Six Hats method of thinking should come naturally to us!
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The method employs six different coloured hats, which can be real or simply a metaphorical representation of how you can structure your thinking.
- In the white hat, the thinker strives to be neutral and objective, using facts and figures
- In the red hat, the thinker is allowed to express emotions and feelings without any justification
- The wearer of the black hat is cautious and careful, and identifies what may go wrong
- The yellow-hat thinker strives to be positive and constructive, identifying the benefits
- In the green hat, the thinker is creative, searching literally for alternative ideas
- And the wearer of the blue hat focuses on controlling and organising the other thinking
When using the Six Hats method on your own, you push you brain to work through wearing all the different hats. If, however, you have a team or an advisory board, each person would take on the role of an individual hat. To enhance the effectiveness of this method the hats should be alternated within the team.
When you’ve completed the Six Hats exercise, it’s up to you do determine what you’ll do with your ideas, and how can you apply them in your business. After all, ideas without action aren’t worth much!
Do you use structured thinking methods like this, or do you prefer more organic, free-flowing brainstorming? Please share your thinking with us below.