Six Thinking Hats – strengthening group communication

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Some of you might not have heard of this so I thought I would take a moment to summarise this valuable tool.  It is particularly valuable for generating creativity in group discussions. It gives everyone a chance to contribute ensuring to a successful outcome without conflict.

The Six Thinking Hats is a concept that was established in a book by Edward de Bono, a physician from Malta who has written numerous works about thinking and language and their influence on humanity. The concept helps people think more clearly and thoroughly through the principle of parallel thinking. Parallel thinking guides thought processes in one direction at a time so we can effectively analyse issues, generate new ideas, and ultimately make better decisions. In other words, each member thinks using the same thinking hat, at the same time, on the same thinking challenge.

The aim is for members of a group to go beyond their own opinions and focus more on the best way forward as a group. This is done by separating emotion from facts, the positive from the negative and critical thinking from creative thinking.

In practice, each member of the group takes on a different role by putting on a different coloured hat. From the diagram below we can see that each colour is associated with a “thinking ingredient”.  Therefore, a person with a blue hat might be a good group leader.This person could then agree with other group members on the best order of hats to use. Each hat has a natural pairing with another. For example yellow is positive while black is more negative; red is emotion driven while white is data driven. In general, if you use one hat, you should also use its partner for balance.

Here are some examples of successful businesses that have applied the Six Thinking Hats tool. Perhaps it could work for your organisation?

This image summarizes it well. For more information, check the de Bono for schools site.


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