WASSP_Home_files/Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats: Written by
Edward De Bono
Presented by: Scott O’Tremba,
Principal Lovell High School
“The Six Thinking Hats method
may well be the most important
change in human thinking for the
past twenty-three hundred
Why the Six Thinking Hats?
Leaders make decisions.
How many have been trained in a
decision making process?
My story:
2006 faced with a decision regarding our master schedule. I
shared my issue with my best friend who works at the head
office of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance in Milwaukee.
He told me about the process they used called “Parallel
Thinking” from the book Six Thinking Hats.
I read the book over Christmas vacation and by March I had
led a community meeting, a stakeholder committee and we
had our new master schedule, including a half-day of
professional development time every Friday afternoon in the
district. I stuck to the Six Thinking Hats to the letter and
have used it ever since. I credit this way of thinking for
much of the success we’ve enjoyed at Lovell High School the
past 8 years.
What is the foundation for Six Thinking
Argument versus Parallel Thinking
“The basic idea behind Western thinking was designed about
twenty-three hundred years ago and is based on argument. Socrates
saw his role as simply pointing out what was “wrong”. Many people
tell me (De Bono) that they enjoy argument because they can show
off how clever they are. They can win arguments and demolish
opponents. None of that is very constructive.”
“The basic tradition of Western thinking (or any other thinking) has
not provided a simple model of constructive thinking. That is
precisely what the Six Hats method (parallel thinking) is all about.”
What is Parallel Thinking and Why Six
“Parallel thinking means that at any moment everyone is looking in the
same direction. But the direction can be changed. So, we need some
direction labels for thinking. This is where the hats come in.”
“A strong association already exists between thinking and “thinking
hats”. The hat indicates a role. A hat can be put on and taken off with
ease. There are six colored hats corresponding to the six directions of
thinking: white, red, black, yellow, green, blue.”
“The whole point of parallel thinking is that the experience and
intelligence of everyone should be used in each direction. So everyone
wears a specified colored hat at the same time going in that direction,
with a focus on one thing at a time.”
White Hat: the white hat is neutral and objective. The
white hat is concerned with objective facts and figures.
Red Hat: Red suggest anger (seeing red), rage and
emotions. The red hat gives the emotional view.
Black Hat: Black is somber and serious. The black hat is
cautious and careful. It points out the weaknesses in an
Yellow Hat: Yellow is sunny and positive. The yellow hat is
optimistic and covers hope and positive thinking.
Green Hat: Green is grass, vegetation, and abundant, fertile
growth. The green hat indicates creativity and new ideas.
Blue Hat: Blue is cool, and it is also the color of the sky. Which
is above everything else. The blue hat is concerned with
control, the organization of the thinking process, and the use of
the other hats.
 “In
practice, the hats are always
referred to by their color and never by
their function. You can ask someone
to “take off their black hat for a
moment” more easily than you can ask
that person to stop being cautious.”
Using Hats:
basic ways: singly to
request a type of thinking or
in a sequence to explore a
subject or solve a problem.
any sequence. Hats can be
taken off and then put back
on, but discipline is very
short time is preferred to
force people to concentrate on
what they are trying to do and
reduces aimless waffle.
Normally one minute per
person for each hat.”
blue hat should
always be used both at
the beginning and end
of the session.”
The first blue hat indicates:
“Why we are here,
What we are thinking about,
The definition of the situation (or problem)
Alternative definitions,
What we want to achieve,
Where we want to end up,
The background to the thinking, and
A plan for the sequence of hats to be used.”
The final blue hat indicates:
we have achieved,
Solution, and
Next steps.”
Benefits of the Six Hats Method:
Simple to understand
Thinking is clear
“The final blue hat stage the
decision is often obvious to
everyone present.”

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