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Creative Twist: Changing Hats


In the latest installment of this series of quick and easy creative ways to add a new “twist” to development, Andy Rankin turns his attention to Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats.

Edward de Bono is a tour de force in the world of creative thinking. His book “Six Thinking Hats” (Penguin Books) gives a simple and memorable way of distinguishing between different thinking styles. He gives a particular emphasis on use of his hat metaphor for making meetings more effective. It adds a creative twist to approaching this important topic.

De Bono’s brilliance is to give easy to remember ideas to structure our thinking that is so often muddled and ineffective because it lacks a systematic approach.

A quick overview of the thinking process related to each hat is as follows:

  • Blue – planning, overview

  • White – facts, evidence

  • Yellow – positive aspects

  • Black – critical thinking, negative aspects

  • Red – feelings, emotions

  • Green – creativity, new ideas

There are many ways to utilise the Six Hats approach to enhance development interventions and here is an example:

Team Review Meeting:
A common review technique for team tasks is to ask a variation on these 3 questions:
1. What went well? (Yellow hat)
2. What didn’t go so well? (Black hat)
3. What could we do to improve? (Green hat)

The other hats may well be present in the review discussion but in my experience they are often mixed up and may be missed (particularly the red hat). This potentially results in less detailed discussion and key information may be missed for the improvement process.

Consciously adding the other hats can ensure that a more rigorous approach is achieved. This is the task of the team leader or facilitator.

So a simple structure would be:
1.What was our goal? What were we trying to achieve? (Blue hat)
2.How do we feel about the outcome? (Red hat)
3.What went well? (Yellow hat) What evidence do we have to support that? (White hat)
4.What went less well? (black hat) What evidence do we have to support that? (white hat)
5.What could we do to improve? (green hat)

Clearly the permutations in any meeting are endless for the order that the hats are used. The important thing is to ensure all the hats are covered and that the facilitation process encourages the same hats to be in play at the same time.

About the author:Andy Rankin is a director of Creative Metier Limited an executive mentoring consultancy. The business has developed an online interactive software tool that utilises creative processes to support people explore their long term future direction. This has applications for leadership and personal development, coaching / mentoring support, restructuring and career transition scenarios.
[email protected]


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