Sunday, July 13, 2014

Six Thinking Hats

The main difficulty in thinking is confusion. --Edward de Bono

Are we thinking clearly and effectively on how to handle opportunities as well as conflicts? Do we know what form of thinking is the most appropriate in each situation? How can we improve the way we think as a team? There are different ways of thinking that can help us analyse situations and reach decisions in the most productive way and with the least conflict.

We seem to be jugglers in life, striving to handle the information coming to us at an incredible speed. Our emotions are set off by thousands of stimuli. We try to reason logically about what is happening or could happen to us; we have hopeful visions, pessimistic projections and creative ideas. Also, as we face critical situations at work, we may be thinking about our children, our homes and our families. It's often difficult to focus.

The Six Thinking Hats
Developed by Dr. Edward de Bono, the Six Thinking Hats® is a simple and effective parallel thinking process that helps people become more productive, focused, and mindfully involved. You learn to separate thinking into six distinct modes, which are identified with their own metaphorical "hat." By mentally wearing and switching "hats," you change your mode of thinking.

The Six Thinking Hats will help you increase the constructive output from meetings and decrease meeting duration; explore each situation or problem and generate alternatives that go beyond obvious solutions; and use "parallel thinking" techniques to avoid adversarial thinking and encourage ideas.

To Ensure the Method Works
For the method to work, intentions must lead to performance. In one of my workshop for my employees, I share with my learning partners the phrase “intention without action does not create transformation.”
No matter how great our intentions are, if we don’t move in the right direction, our best aspirations to improve our ways of thinking are useless. De Bono asserts that intention is the first step, but we need structures to carry that intention into action and transform it into results. We need structures for our thinking process to be become as productive as possible. That’s where the six "hats" come in:

White Hat – Information: it is neutral and objective. It deals with objective facts and figures. “Do not interpret. Consider only the facts, please.” It's "pure intellect."

Red Hat – Intuition, emotions, feelings: it suggests rage, fury, passion. It provides the emotional point of view, what the person wearing this hat feels about what is being analysed. “I don’t like what I'm seeing.” “Why?” “It doesn't matter, I just don’t like it.” It's the "beating heart."

Black Hat – Criticism, carefulness, pessimism: it is sad and negative. It covers the negative aspects of why something cannot be done. “This doesn't fit. This won’t work because…” It's the "devil’s advocate."

Yellow Hat – Benefits, values, profits: it is happy and positive. It optimistically covers hope, stimulating positive thought, finding the advantages of the suggested idea or situation being analysed. “I like this because…” It's the "bright sun."

Green Hat – Creativity, alternatives, and possibilities: it is vegetation and fertile growth. In our Indian culture, it is hope and abundance. It suggests the creativity and new ideas about the situation being analysed. “What if we…” “Hey, let’s do this!” It's the "fertile tree."

Blue Hat – Control of the process: it's cold and, like the sky, it's over and above everything. It deals with control and organization of the thought process, as well as the use of the other hats. “Hey, let’s take it step by step. Let’s not get confused.” It's the "orchestra conductor."

The Six-Thinking-Hats method can help you develop your personal thinking processes. However, it is particularly useful to ensure your team becomes more productive when analysing and deciding strategies and possibilities.

Use these ideas to ensure your thinking and the thinking of your team become increasingly clear, creative and productive.

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