Getting creative strategically now in this COVID-19 crisis can be in valuable. Being more creative might just mean putting on a new hat.

That’s the gist of Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono. The hats are a tool for group discussion and individual thinking using six colored hats.

Six Thinking Hats and parallel thinking can help groups generate ideas in a more specific and cohesive way, producing more effective thinking.

The point of the method is that the human brain thinks in several distinct ways which can be deliberately challenged. This method can enable a person to create tactics for different thinking about specific issues.

De Bono identifies six distinct ways that challenge the brain. In each way, the brain will identify and bring into conscious thought parts of issues being considered (e.g. instinct, intuition, pessimism, logic, judgments, facts, etc.). None of these completely represent natural ways of thinking, but show how some of us already think.

Since the hats do not reflect our natural thinking, each hat must be used for a limited time. For some, using the hats seems unnatural, uncomfortable, counter- productive and against their better judgment. That might be the reason his process really works:

The six distinct directions of thinking, hats and colors:

  1. Facilitator (Blue) — every thought sequence begins and ends here. This hat is where the group agrees together how they will think, how to begin thinking, then they evaluate the outcomes of that thinking and what they should do next.
  2. Information(White) – considers purely and simply what information is available, what are the facts?
  3. Emotions(Red) – uses intuitive or instinctive gut reactions or statements of emotional feeling (but not any rationale)
  4. Discernment(Black) – involves logic applied to identifying reasons for cautious and conservative actions.
  5. Optimistic response(Yellow) – logic applied to identifying benefits and pursuing harmony.
  6. Creativity(Green) – statements of that provoke and stimulate investigation and watching where a thought goes.

Note that this thinking may be used by individuals working alone or in groups.

Here is the secret behind Six Hats Thinking:

In typical and unstructured thinking, this process is unfocused. The thinker leaps from critical thinking to neutrality to optimism and other thoughts without structure or strategy. The Six Hats process attempts to introduce parallel thinking.

Most people are used to a Six Hats way of thinking and unconsciously develop their own habits, which might be effective. Even so, when thinking in a group, these individual strategies tend not to converge, and thinking and discussion will not converge.

Prevent spaghetti thinking

Due to ego power and the tendency to most culture’s black hat thinking, unparalleled thinking can lead to very destructive meetings.

DeBono believes that, even with good courtesy and clear shared objectives, that in any collaborative thinking activity there is a natural tendency for “spaghetti thinking.”  This is when one person is thinking about the benefits while another considers the facts and so on. The hats process avoids this.

In this different method, everyone will think in the same way at the same time. The facilitator is the only exception. He will keep the blue hat on all the time to make sure thinking makes good progress. The blue hat tends to be the outward-looking, leader/trail blazing hat that attracts the leaders of all groups.

Remember that the hats are not a description but a way to look at things. Therefore such methodology aids in better creation of ideas. Why? Because it is based on a creating system rather than an adversarial confrontational thinking system where e somebody has the opposing position.

So, it’s time to try on a new hat.

In the EOS model, this method can especially help when answering the 8 Questions in the Vision Component. The 8 Questions are organized in the powerful and simple VTO – Vision, Traction Organizer.  

How are you thinking differently to become more creative?