4.8.1 What is Six thinking Hats

The six hats represent six modes of thinking and are directions to think rather than labels for thinking. There are six different hats in different colors. Each hat symbolises a certain way of thinking. If you “put” one of these hats on you chose to think exclusively in that direction. The other participants also put on a hat. When changing the hat, you and your colleagues, will change the direction of thinking. Each participant has to be able to wear each of the six hats and start reflecting.

Hats are used proactively rather than reactively. It aims to encourage parallel thinking, full-spectrum thinking and separate ego from performance.1 It enhances performance rather than ego defense.2

The benefits associated with this technique include:

  • Save time by providing a framework to participate in productive “thinking together” meetings, delivering necessary results, minimise personality conflicts, sidestep egos which get in the way of performance, separate facts from emotions and become better focused and to the point in discussions.3
  • Improve performance by providing a framework to make better decisions, be better prepared to implement changes, see all sides of a situation, create clear and concise communication, sort through a wide range of data, think thoroughly and design action plans that are supported by the group and can be implemented.4
  • Increase creative and innovative performance by providing a framework to generate powerful new ideas, select opportunities to pursue, consider a broader range of solutions, develop action plans to minimise risk and promote well the ideas to management and clients with more confidence.

Using this technique people learn to go beyond the obvious, spot opportunities, keep egos apart and create dynamic results.

Laura Donahue working for Nestle says:

“Six hats is a simple, yet powerful tool that can be learned rapidly and used immediately to achieve long-lasting results. “Six hats” has helped our product development group to generate ideas quickly, evaluate them efficiently and implement action plans effectively.”5

Edward de Bono’s thinking hats were developed in order to illustrate the various methods of thinking utilised by individuals within problem solving processes. Each of the hats represents a method of thinking commonly used by individuals within problem solving. It is hoped that through such representations more individuals will be able to recognise the various methods of thinking that they utilise and therefore better understand their own thinking processes. It is also hoped that individuals will be able to better understand the thinking processes of others and therefore even incorporate some of these processes within their own thinking.6

Please have a look at Table 1: Explanation of 6 hats

Now stop and think! Apply the hats to one of your organisation’s problems and produce the relative questions for each hat/ way of thinking.


1 http://members.optusnet.com.au/~charles57/Creative/Techniques/sixhats.htm
2 www.illumine.co.uk/course-six-thinking-hats.htm
3 www.debonoforbusiness.com/asp/six_hats.asp
4 lbid
5 lbid
6 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Thinking_Hats