Six Thinking Hats | Edward de Bono

Summary of: Six Thinking Hats
By: Edward de Bono


Embark on a journey to clear, concise thinking with Edward de Bono’s groundbreaking book, ‘Six Thinking Hats’. In the face of confusion and information overload, this color-coded system breaks down the thinking process into six different functions, simplifying problem-solving and decision-making for individuals and teams alike. Throughout this summary, you’ll encounter the six hats and their corresponding colors, enabling you and your team to think emotionally, logically, creatively, and more, depending on the situation. Say goodbye to fruitless discussions and hello to focused, efficient communication through parallel thinking and the insightful world of the Six Thinking Hats method.

Six Hats to Clear Thinking

The Six Hats method simplifies complex information processing and enhances team thinking. By using six differently colored hats to represent emotional, logical, creative, information-based, future-oriented, and critical thinking, the Six Hats method encourages parallel thinking and minimizes confusion. This method helps teams to express their emotions without feeling embarrassed, enhances communication, and ensures that everyone in the team looks at the problem from the same perspective. Instead of referring to each hat by its function, people refer to them by color. The Six Hats method is a useful tool for managers seeking to enhance their teams’ productivity and clarity of thought.

The Power of Six Thinking Hats

The Six Thinking Hats system allows groups to think more effectively. Hats can be used singly to guide discussion, or in sequence to achieve specific goals.

The Six Thinking Hats system is a powerful tool for group thinking. Hats can be used alone to concentrate on specific topics or concepts, clarifying objectives and managing discussion. For example, suggesting “green-hat thinking” can prompt alternative options for a certain subject.

Alternatively, hats can be used in sequence, allowing groups to achieve specific goals. Group leaders might direct the use of different hats in different orders to advance the discussion toward the desired outcome. This system of using hats in sequence requires discipline, with only the lead facilitator able to adjust the process.

To use the hats effectively, groups should spend one minute per person under each hat. Focused discussion promotes concentration and eliminates distractions. With practice, the use of the hats becomes smoother and more streamlined.

Individual hats represent different types of thinking, allowing groups to move in a specific direction. The White Hat represents objective, impartial thinking, while the Black Hat is employed for critical, cautious thinking. The Red Hat is for emotional, intuitive responses, and the Yellow Hat represents positive, constructive thinking. The Green Hat signifies creative, innovative ideas, and the Blue Hat signifies big picture, strategic thinking.

Six Thinking Hats enhances communication and aids groups to analyze complex information in a structured way. Its uses extend beyond business to include healthcare, education and personal growth.

Thinking with the White Hat

Thinking with the white hat is a method of problem-solving that emphasizes the importance of facts and figures to make unbiased decisions. This technique is used to lay out available information, identify missing details, and find alternatives. The white hat is used to establish the foundation of a discussion and to confirm that proposals align with existing information. When using the white hat thinking method, neutrality and objectivity are critical. White, devoid of any color, indicates that one must avoid personal opinions or beliefs, adhering only to factual information. It is widely used in business meetings, marketing strategies, and any scenario that requires logical thinking and unbiased assessments.

The Power of Emotions in Group Discussions

In a group discussion, wearing the red hat represents expressing emotions and intuition without explanation. It allows for individuals to express themselves and share their accumulated experience. Although intuition should be treated with caution, a range of feelings can be expressed, such as enthusiasm, ambivalence, and dissatisfaction. It’s important to note that appropriate expression varies across cultures. The leader should never ask anyone to explain or justify their feelings, and full participation is necessary in red-hat exercises. This ensures that everyone feels heard and that expressing an unpopular emotion is accepted without punishment. Overall, allowing the expression of emotions can lead to a more productive group discussion.

The Importance of the Black Hat

Wearing the black hat in decision-making helps to prevent mistakes and inconsistencies in policy, strategy, and ethics. It is a crucial tool for critical judgment, based on past experiences using the mismatch mechanism. However, it is essential to avoid being overly cautious and balancing out the use of the six hats method. The black hat is all about cautiousness, ensuring that we do not engage in illegal, dangerous, or unprofitable activities. In decision making, the black hat helps to identify elements of policy, strategy, ethics, or other aspects that may contradict one another. While it is a valuable tool, it should not be overused. The key is to find a balance between each hat’s use and avoid obsessing over finding faults.

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