A matter of hats

Most of us wear all manner of metaphorical hats, whether at work or at home. As well as being a manager, you’re probably a direct report and a colleague. Perhaps you’re a trustee, a member and a volunteer. Maybe you’re a team coach and a player. At different moments throughout the day, we subconsciously choose a hat to wear.

I wrote recently about how when we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.

Edward de Bono suggests that we can get a new perspective by consciously changing our hats in his book, Six Thinking Hats. He talks about six differently-coloured hats, each one representing a different perspective so, as you metaphorically put on each hat, you consider your issue from each of the different viewpoints. I use it with individual clients but you can also use it in a group setting, assigning different hats to different team members.

The green hat is the creative hat – it’s all about the ideas for this hat! Whilst wearing the green hat, you can let your imagination run riot; you can be off-the-wall, maybe even a little provocative. After all, no idea is a bad idea to the green hat-wearer.

The white hat focuses on the information available. Wearing this hat, you are objective and only interested in the concrete facts and figures.

The yellow hat takes an optimistic view. If this is the hat you’re wearing, you’ll be looking for the positive in the situation.

The black hat, on the other hand, is logical, discerning and takes a more negative view. Whilst wearing the black hat, you analyse any risks of a proposal, look for the flaws and build in contingency.

The red hat calls for an emotional response. What’s your gut feeling about the issue? What will the impact be on other people? When you’re wearing the red hat, what does your intuition tell you?

The blue hat is in charge. Remaining calm and in control, you’ll be chairing the discussion if this is a group activity. Whether you’re wearing the blue hat as an individual or in a group, it’s your job to evaluate the thinking and nail down your action points.

Most of us tend to consider things from one or two of these perspectives: trying on some of these other hats can help us create well-formed solutions, taking into account creativity, contingency, optimism, available data and the impact on others.

Today’s pebble for you to consider:

Could the six thinking hats help you solve a tricky issue?

What do you think?


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?

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3 Responses to A matter of hats

  1. Pingback: The fixation effect | Turning over pebbles

  2. Pingback: What hat are you wearing? | Turning over pebbles

  3. Pingback: How to gain perspective | Turning over pebbles

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