Weekly Training Booster Episode #6: How to Use Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats & Their Sequences

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Making Business Matter (MBM)
Making Business Matter (MBM)
Weekly Training Booster Episode #6: How to Use Edward De Bono's Six Thinking Hats & Their Sequences
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How to Use the Six Thinking Hats Theory

Join Andy Palmer and Darren A. Smith in the sixth episode of the Weekly Training Booster. This episode was about the six thinking hats. Designed by Edward De Bono, these 6 hats help teams to solve problems with this incredible problem-solving tool. You can choose how you sequence the hats to get the best results.

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Find out how to apply the 6 thinking hats theory with this training booster

You Can Read the 6 Thinking Hats Episode Transcript Below:

Andy Palmer:

Okay, good afternoon or good morning, depending on when you’re watching this. Welcome to MBM’s weekly training booster. This is number six; how the time flies when you’re having fun. Okay. Today is about how to use, and how to understand the Six Thinking Hats, the tool that’s been developed by Edward De Bono. For me, Thinking Hats is a super powerful way of helping unlock the potential and to support team thinking. So Darren, give us an overview of De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats.

Darren A. Smith:

It’s a way of problem-solving as a team. That’s its best application, I think, having used it for the last 20 years. It can really help a team to focus, without having to worry about being sidetracked on positioning themselves in the discussion, my opinions here, your opinions here. So it can really help a team to focus and solve a problem. And the Six Hats are various colors, they were created by, as you said, Edward De Bono, and I’d like to share them all with you.

Andy Palmer:

All right, good stuff. So what I’m going to ask you to do then is pick a hat, give us an overview of any one of them, anyone that comes to mind for you?

Darren A. Smith:

Well, let’s do the one that people would most heard of, which is the black hat.

Andy Palmer:

Okay, and what’s the black hat?

Darren A. Smith:

The black hat is being a naysayer or a negative Nellie as some people would call it. So you’re in a discussion, and the idea is that the team together wear each hat at a time, a metaphorical putting on a colored hat. So at this point, each member puts on the black hat altogether, and we have a problem to solve. And the problem might be that project XYZ isn’t working. And then what we do on a flip chart is write down all the problems with this project, “Well, it doesn’t work because Bob’s not engaged, the client doesn’t like it, we’re going to run out of money.” And we’d list all the problems, all the things that are going to go wrong, all the negativity.

Andy Palmer:

Good stuff. And I guess that then allows people to get those thoughts out of their head and, at the same time, manage their own perception that maybe they’re not being negative. They’re actually just trying to spot stuff that can happen, the risks that are going to be associated with the project, to then figure out if we need to accept, mitigate, transfer them, or whatever we need to do with them. So it’s a good way of unlocking that thinking where naturally the majority just don’t want to go to that black hat thinking. But this helps us to take us there.

Darren A. Smith:

And you can also imagine Bob and Ron in a room, and maybe Bob’s negative and Ron’s saying, “Oh, but we don’t want to be negative.” You can see the tussle going on. Whereas if we’d all agree to put on the black hat and we’re all negative together for a few minutes, great.

Andy Palmer:

All right, absolutely. Good stuff. All right. Pick another hat, what other colors and what [crosstalk 00:02:54]?

Darren A. Smith:

Okay, we’ll go opposite and we’ll talk about the white hat of the six thinking hats. Or, as we call it an MBM terms, the detective hat. And this is saying, “What do we not have? What facts and information should we go and seek in order to solve this problem?” So we don’t understand enough about the customer on this project, or we don’t have enough data, or we need to find out what the shopper thinks. That’s our white hat.

Andy Palmer:

Good stuff. And it’d be particularly useful when we’re trying to validate maybe the opportunity, or to consider if it’s even a goer, because we can’t make decisions without having the facts. We need to go and get them to allow us to make informed decisions. All right.

Darren A. Smith:

Yes. It’s a particularly good hat for… I’m at risk of mixing my metaphors and colors, but it’s good for the HBDI blues. If anyone’s done HBDI, you’ll know the blue guys love the facts; this is their hat.

Andy Palmer:

All right. Yes, that makes sense to me. Let’s put a link in the bottom of the video today for people are going, “HBDI, what’s that?” We’ll bring that to life as well. Albeit, let’s not go there right now. Okay. I’m going to pick a hat from the six thinking hats. I’ll pick the red hat. The red hat’s about… And actually, this does align to Hermann, more about feelings and hunches and intuition.

Darren A. Smith:

Yeah, so this is about giving the group permission. We all put on the red hat and for, let’s say, four, five minutes, “What are our feelings on this project?” “Well, I’m pissed off with Bob,” and, “Ron’s doing really well, but I fear this.” It allows us to put our feelings forward, and particularly as a British male, we’re not allowed to do that. But with the hat on, we can, which is great.

Andy Palmer:

Okay, fair enough. Yeah, and I think this is important for a number of reasons. One, because yes, we can look at projects as being one dimensional things. But actually they have impact on people, whether that’s internally, externally, maybe customers further afield, to consider those groups in a much, dare I say, detailed, much greater level of detail can be powerful.

Darren A. Smith:

Yeah, very true.

Andy Palmer:

All right. All right, so that’s our red hat, that’s our black hat, and our white hat. Pick another one for me?

Darren A. Smith:

Okay, so let’s talk about our green hat, and in MBM terms, it’s our entrepreneurial hat. It’s our creative ideas hat. So this is where us yellows in HBDI terms, or the right brain-ers, put this hat on and they go for it. So the group all put on the same hat and we list all the ideas that we’ve got to solve this problem. Now, one of the tools that you and I know works very well here, is random word tool, and again, we’ll put a link to that. But sticking with De Bono, this is all about how many ideas have we got? How many solutions? How many crazy thoughts to solve this bad boy?

Andy Palmer:

Yeah, we’re talking about a good level of brainstorming, getting it all out there, no idea’s a bad idea. Then we filter them, prioritize them, remove the duplication, and get down to the ones that are going to help solve our particular problem when we’re doing a problem-solving. Good. Okay, good. Tell me about the blue hat?

Darren A. Smith:

Okay, the blue hat is our policemen hat or our film director hat. It’s the process hat. So this is the hat we put on at the start and at a end of the sequence, I’ll come back to those in a moment. But at the start, before we all start putting on a red hat, or a white hat, or black hat, we have a process which says, “As a team, we’re going to do this for about 20 minutes, five minutes per hat”, let’s say. “We are going to evaluate at the end of the blue hat again.” And this is making sure that our journey is going to solve our problem. So the blue hat is about setting it up correctly, which hats are we going to use for how long, and then evaluating again at the end. So blue to blue with other colors in the middle.

Andy Palmer:

Lovely. Well, last but not least then, our yellow hat?

Darren A. Smith:

So our yellow hat is the opposite, I guess, of our naysayer black hat. The yellow hat is all about optimism. It’s all about, “Okay. What about if we found a hundred thousand pounds and threw that into the project, how could we solve it?” Or, “What if we all worked every day for the next 10 days, how would that work?” So we’ve got to try and split the ideas into the optimism. These hats are quite close, but optimism is the exact opposite of the black hat.

Andy Palmer:

Brilliant. All right. All right, it’s a great overview of how De Bono’s Six Hats can help facilitate our own thinking. And the bit that I really liked, depending upon the situation you’re in or the thing you’re trying to explore, you can select a sequence of hats. Sometimes it might be the blue, the red, and the green. Other times it might be all six. And as you talked about earlier, sometimes you might start with one hat and finish with that same hat, and do some other stuff in the middle. So while I don’t think we’re getting into all those different permutations and scenarios, maybe we can, again, add a link at the end of this video for people can then see how they can practically apply it.

Darren A. Smith:

We do have some sequences that we’ve written down in the link which we’ll put in. I’ll just share with you a couple that I’ve seen work really well. If you’re new to the Six Hats thinking, then I would take a blue hat, consider with your team, “We’ll do all the colors of the hats”, and finish with a blue. That seems to be the basic choice. When you get more advanced, you might just do blue, black, and white, and then blue again, that’s possible. And remember that this thing shouldn’t take that long. The hats, you only wear a hat for up to about five minutes. We’re not talking about hours of discussion.

Andy Palmer:

Great stuff. All right, fabulous, top tip. Let’s wrap it up there. We’re going to put some additional information in the link. Today’s video was about Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats and how you can use them to solve problems and improve communication within teams.

Darren A. Smith:

Brilliant, thanks, Andy.

Take a look at the 6 Thinking Hats video on our YouTube Channel. Also, check out our award-winning blog.

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