Great Business Ideas: Six-hat thinking

Great Small Business Ideas to Start: Six-hat thinking

“Six thinking hats” is a powerful technique created by Edward de Bono. It is used to look at decisions from a number of perspectives, helping you to think differently and acquire a rounded view of a situation.

The idea

Many successful people think from a rational, positive viewpoint. However, if they do not look at a problem from an emotional, creative, or negative viewpoint, they can underestimate resistance to plans, fail to make creative leaps, and overlook the importance of contingency plans.

Conversely, pessimists can be excessively defensive, while emotional people can fail to look at decisions calmly and rationally. Each of these “thinking hats” is a different style of thinking, and the “six thinking hats” technique will help you assess problems from many angles, enabling decisions to combine ambition, effectiveness, sensitivity, and creativity.

In practice

Adopt a different hat based on your situation and priorities.

  1. White hat. Focus on the data available. Look at the information you have and see what you can learn from it. Look for gaps in your knowledge and either try to fill them or take account of them, by analyzing past trends and extrapolating from data.
  2. Red hat. Look at problems using intuition, gut reaction, and emotion. Try to think how other people will react emotionally, and try to understand the responses of people who do not know your reasoning.
  3. Black hat. Look at all the bad points of the issue, trying to see why it might not work. This highlights the weak points in a plan, allowing you to eliminate or alter them or to prepare contingency plans for them. This helps to make plans more resilient. It is one of the real benefits of this technique, as problems can be anticipated and countered.
  4. Yellow hat. This requires thinking positively and optimistically, helping you to see the benefits of the decision. It helps you to keep going when everything looks difficult.
  5. Green hat. This involves developing creative solutions. It is a freewheeling way of thinking, in which there is little criticism of ideas.
  6. Blue hat. This emphasizes process control, and is exhibited by people chairing meetings. When ideas are running dry, it can be useful to use green-hat thinking, as the creative approach can stimulate fresh ideas.
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