Dr. Edward De Bono was known for his outside-of-the-box thinking. One classic example from his legacy, still used today, is the The Six Thinking Hats. A way to facilitate thinking about a problem from various perspectives.
As a framework, it's incredibly flexible. The 6 Thinking Hats Template can be used for almost any problem, decision or brainstorming session: whether that's crowdsourcing ideas from a group, weighing up the pros and cons of a new feature or product idea, or mapping out a content roadmap.
It's also just a fun way to open a problem or project you're stuck on and start thinking more creatively about possible solutions.
Give it a try and see what you think :)
What are the 6 thinking hats?
The six thinking hats are:
- White Hat: The White Hat represents facts and figures. During this stage of the exercise, you'll want to list out everything you know about the problem, decision or challenge at hand.
- Red Hat: The Red Hat represents emotion and feeling. This is the time to let your gut instinct guide you and think about how you feel about the situation.
- Black Hat: The Black Hat represents caution and logic. During this stage, you'll want to think about all the potential risks and drawbacks of each option.
- Yellow Hat: The Yellow Hat represents optimism and positives. Here, you'll want to brainstorm all the possible advantages and benefits of each solution.
- Green Hat: The Green Hat represents creativity. This is the time to let your imagination run wild and come up with some out-of-the-box ideas.
- Blue Hat: The Blue Hat represents thinking about thinking, or process control. This is the time to step back and think about how you want to approach the problem-solving process itself (if in a group, the person 'wearing' the blue hat often acts as the facilitator of the exercise).
How to use the 6 Thinking Hats framework
The six thinking hats framework is incredibly flexible, and can be used in a number of different ways. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Brainstorming ideas: If you're struggling to come up with new ideas, try using the six thinking hats framework as a way to structure your brainstorming session. Approaching the same problem from several different angles is sometimes really all you need to open it up and stumble upon an interesting new direction.
- Content planning: Use the six thinking hats framework to help you test, question or validate your content strategy. Does it really make sense to focus so heavily on social media content? What are the benefits and drawbacks of running video campaigns? What are some creative ways you could use interactive content to increase engagement? As you work your way through the various thinking hats, you'll have a chance to interrogate each of these important questions more carefully.
- Pros and cons: When making a decision, it can be helpful to weigh up the pros and cons of each option using the six thinking hats framework. Rather than a simple list (Pros on the left, Cons on the right), you can add some more detail and flesh to the problem by listing key factors as they sit within the six hats. This helps take into account not only the benefits (yellow) and downsides (black), but the facts, emotions and creative solutions that also relate to the decision.
What order should you use the 6 thinking hats?
There's no set order for using the six thinking hats. However, one common approach is to start with the white hat to establish the facts and figures. Then, you might open it up to the green hat for creativity and new ideas. After that, use the black hat to look at the downside and risks of the ideas which rise to the top. Next, the yellow hat to look at the potential upside and benefits. Finally, you might use the red hat to give some emotional and intuitive input into how the outcome of the exercise feels within the group (or for you in your business). Does it sit right? Or is something missing?
Getting started with the 6 Thinking Hats Template
This was a fun one to recreate in Notion. Just a simple kanban board with a template button to spawn fresh copies when you need them.
Duplicate the full Notion page linked to your account, then copy the template button to start using the Six Thinking Hats across workspaces.