The Thinking Hats process is a method for reflecting and solving problems based on a simple premise: avoid censuring new ideas even if they are unique, unusual or disturbing.
Edward de Bono is a Maltese psychologist who specialises in cognitive sciences. In the 1980s, he observed that when we have to tackle an issue, we tend to be overwhelmed by a huge flood of ideas. Our thought patterns are unconsciously influenced by our beliefs, emotions and personal feelings.
If we do not structure how we reflect on something, we will not follow a very logical thinking process, which makes it difficult to address problems. To solve this issue, de Bono developed a new thinking process.
What are the basics of this method?
For de Bono, the idea is simple: we need to divide our thinking into six distinct phases. Each phase is represented by a different colour hat, representing a specific thinking role. During the reflection process, each participant will take their turn putting on each of the hats and sharing their views.
By thinking in a different way, the team will be able to consider the issue from all angles. Each hat enables participants to take on a different thinking role. Let’s look at how this method can be used to bring out new ideas.
Blue Hat: represents organisation. This is where thinking will start. It will set the context, objectives and session guidelines.
White hat: represents neutrality. Here each participant will only state the facts. This can include information, data or useful standards, regulations or laws related to the issue.
Red hat: represents feelings and intuition. Each participant will share how they feel about the topic and what the issue brings up for them in terms of convictions, intuition and emotions.
Black hat: represents pessimism. Participants will be able to bring up all of the subject’s negative aspects by discussing the barriers, inconveniences and obstacles.
Yellow hat: describes optimism. Once the risks are identified, the discussion turns to the advantages, benefits and all of the positive and constructive elements.
Green hat: designates creativity. By creating space for imagination, we make it possible to explore other paths and suggestions that are often limitless but still focused on the project’s ideal aspects.
Once each hat has led the discussion, put the organiser blue hat back on to summarise key takeaways, identify next steps and choose which action plan to follow.
Why use this method?
- Boost creativity
When we think about aspects we haven’t previously considered, we have the opportunity to think differently, reflect deeply and allow room to innovate and take a step back.
- Increase efficiency
This thinking process enables you to more quickly and easily consider all perspectives on a project. You can make decisions faster and communicate better after having discussed as many options as possible.
- Generate new ideas
Using the thinking hats generates a comprehensive brainstorming session that covers the maximum number of potential alternatives. Many relevant ideas on other topics can emerge through all of the things you reflect on.
With Beekast, you can follow the six Thinking Hats process with ready-to-use inspiration templates. Want to try it out? Create your free account!