Who Should Read This Book
The Six Thinking Hats is an authoritative framework designed to help organizations and teams overcome some of the inherited cognitive and cultural mindsets that prevent us from refining our decision-making capabilities. In that sense, it is an essential tool for decision-makers, especially when the stakes are high.
In addition to his publications on lateral thinking, critical thinking, and creativity, the Six Thinking Hats, first published in 1985, is probably one of the best-known frameworks among Eduard de Bono‘s vast portfolio of new ideas.
In this relatively short book, de Bono presents his new thinking framework and describes its premises, which we summarise as follows:
- As per de Bono, the main obstacle to better thinking is confusion. The latter directly results from our minds trying to integrate emotions, rationality, and factual knowledge simultaneously in their decision-making processes.
- The Western argumentative approach to problem-solving, inherited from the Greek philosophers 2300 years ago, is seriously outdated. It is confrontational, personal, egocentric, and non-constructive; its objective is to argue the correctness or otherwise of an idea put forward by our peers.
The Six Thinking Hats framework addresses these two problems as follows:
- First, it forces people to adopt one “direction” of thought at any time. A “Blue Hat” chairman directs the process to ensure everyone plays by the rules.
- Second, through lateral thinking, participants can create new and constructive ideas providing a rich set of solutions in record time.
Why six coloured hats?
The hats are symbolic objects that we can quickly put on and off. The colours allow us to remember and visualise the purpose of each hat.
Although the hats can be used in any sequence, de Bono proposes to use them in such a way that:
- First, we get all the facts from the White Hat. De Bono recommends we start with factual knowledge and evidence-based information rather than putting forward an argument to be supported later by facts that we choose to present in a way that bolsters our argument.
- Second, we express our feelings about an idea using the Red Hat. We generally assume that emotions can only get in the way of rational discussions, so we try to avoid them in meetings. Still, they return to our arguments “disguised as logic”. The Red Het is our opportunity to voice our feelings without a disguise.
- Third, we use the Black Hat to identify faults, issues, or obstructions. The Black Hat is mainly to limit our tendencies to be cautious all the time, as cautiousness and pessimism is the preferred mode in which our brains like to function.
- Fourth, a Yellow Hat will help us list the idea’s merits. The author points out that seeing danger instead of value is a natural tendency that helps us avoid getting into trouble. Identifying value requires conscious effort, a habit that needs to be cultivated.
- Fifth, a Green Hat ensures we focus our creative faculties on coming up with an array of different solutions. The author has published another book on creativity with many “games” that one can play to generate novel ideas. It works surprisingly well and must be taught and shared.
- Sixth, we use the Red Hat again to sum up our feelings. Why? The author maintains that an idea that doesn’t attract enthusiasm will not gather momentum, regardless of its ingenuity. Using the Red Hat at this stage allows the chairman of the meeting to guage the participants’ feelings after all effort has been made to debate it.
And the Blue Hat? The Blue Hat organises the discussion and governs the process by allocating timeframes, determining the sequence of hats to use, and ensuring compliance.
ISBN-13: 9 780141 037554
18 x 11.2 x 1 cm
Edward Charles Francis Publius de Bono (19 May 1933 – 9 June 2021) was a Maltese physician, psychologist, author, inventor, philosopher, and consultant. He originated the term lateral thinking, wrote the book Six Thinking Hats, and was a proponent of the teaching of thinking as a subject in schools.
Some of his publications:
- The Use of Lateral Thinking (1967) ISBN 0-14-013788-2, introduced the term “lateral thinking“
- The Five-Day Course in Thinking (1968), introduced the L game
- Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step, (1970), Harper & Row 1973 paperback: ISBN 0-06-090325-2
- Lateral Thinking for Management (1971)
- Po: A Device for Successful Thinking (1972), ISBN 0-671-21338-5, introduced the term Po
- Atlas of Management Thinking (1981)
- Conflicts: A Better Way to Resolve them (1985)
- Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas (1992) ISBN 0-00-255143-8 – a summation of many of De Bono’s ideas on creativity
- Water Logic: The Alternative to I am right You are Wrong (1993) ISBN 978-1563120374
- Parallel thinking: from Socratic thinking to de Bono thinking (1994) ISBN 0-670-85126-4
- How to Be More Interesting (1998)
- New Thinking for the New Millennium (1999)
- H+ (Plus): A New Religion (2006)
- How to Have Creative Ideas (2007)
- Think! Before It’s Too Late (2009) ISBN 978-0-09-192409-6
- Lateral Thinking – An Introduction (2014) ISBN 978-0091955021
- Bonting – Thinking to Create Value (2016) ISBN 978-9995750190