Guide to the 6 Thinking Hats Method and why you need it for problem-solving

The 6 thinking hats method, created by Edward de Bono in 1986, is a way to push yourself into examining all angles of a problem or a specific idea. It’s a useful tool in being able to analyze more objectively, and then combining that with your subjective view. Have you ever felt confused by choices, unable to choose or just unsure of what to do? Originally this method has been used with group discussions or brainstorming in mind, but it’s an excellent tool to use individually to gain deeper insights and dive further into your mind. 

“If you never change your mind, why have one?”

De Bono

The thinking hat method consists of 6 different parts which are all meant to guide you through the process of having a different perspective. Each hat has a colour, and a specific purpose, being designed in the best order for you to reach the ideal solution by the end or at least possess much more data and perspective on the initial problem. It’s been used as a great team thinking tool to have a better flow of discussing ideas but can also be used individually. 

Now we’re going to explain all the hats and what to ask yourself. If you already have a specific problem, question or dilemma in mind, we encourage you to note down what feelings, thoughts and ideas come up while ‘wearing’ each hat.

White hat 

The white hat you’ve just figuratively put on is all about facts. This is the logical part. Take all your other personal emotions and feelings and put it in a box, and set that aside. Now is the time to look at data. What do you know for certain? What information do you have? Do you know what information you will need to answer your solution?

Red hat

Here is where you take out the box full of your feelings! How do you feel about your question or problem? What does your gut feeling say? Do you have a hunch or an intuition? Sometimes it’s helpful to close your eyes while exploring what your feelings are. A lot can arise from a simple question, or maybe barely any feelings at all. You just have to note down and observe what the feelings are, or a complete lack of them if you have zero emotional investment in what you’re exploring.

Black hat

This is the hat of judgement. What are difficulties you can already see? What could go wrong? What could be a challenge for you? You can be a little bit negative while using this hat if needed, but try to stay factually negative to get a broad view of all the possible problems. It’s important to take problems into consideration because it’s a part of successful planning and practising flexibility down this thinking path when it’s time to combine everything together.

Yellow hat

Now quickly switch back to positivity, think happy thoughts! This is where you positively think about what will be the value of success? Why is this an important dilemma to explore? What is the benefit to you? What can you gain?

Green hat

Now put on the green hat and you can visualise a plant growing in different directions and larger and larger. This is the hat of creativity. What can be the solutions to the problems you already explored? What are some alternative ways of getting to the goals? Get very creative here, and avoid thinking the word “no”. There are no bad ideas, right? So here you’re free to come up with any possible solution you can. If it helps you, maybe even take a break right now from reading on your phone or computer, and go do something where you usually get your best ideas. Do some meditation, take a walk or a hot shower. Has anything creative sprung up?

Blue hat

Now we place our final hat on top of our heads. This is where you draw conclusions. What is the best way to resolve the problem? What is the best way to proceed? Can you come to a conclusion or do you require more brainstorming? Look over the process and check yourself. Did you follow all the steps as intended? This process should’ve encouraged you to see the problem from different angles and be able to gain more insight into yourself by comparing everything, including facts and your intuition.

The point of these hats is to make sure you approach a problem or question from all sides, positively, negatively, factually and in every possible beneficial way. It pushes you to see problems from angles that aren’t so natural to you. Are you still struggling to find an answer to your dilemma? You can explore the Test & Go assessments here to get to know yourself better through psychometric testing.

Let us know, does the 6 hat thinking method help you find clarity?

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