In creativity, the pursuit of effective problem-solving techniques is unceasing. Here is the Six Thinking Hats method as a prominent tool, revered for its innovative approach.
But despite its initial allure, there are some fundamental flaws that should be considered before applying it.
More complex than it seems
Undoubtedly, the Six Thinking Hats method presents a framework for analyzing different perspectives to come up with ideas. Unfortunately, its complexity often becomes a hindrance rather than a help, especially in today’s fast-paced business landscape. Indeed, the slightly intricate nature of the method requires extensive preparation and experienced facilitation which poses challenges for beginners, which in turn hinders effective problem solving.
Although they advocate multifaceted thinking, the six thinking hats fail to provide substantial guidance on how to apply these perspectives to different problem contexts. Its ambiguous directives often leave users struggling to begin navigating the nuances of various challenges, ultimately hindering effective idea generation. In this regard, it becomes apparent that the method does not always achieve its proposed goal, making it less than optimal for beginners.
In contrast to this complicated approach, there are simpler alternatives such as the PMI method, which offers a more streamlined and manageable process. Despite its effectiveness, the PMI method is not as well known as the six thinking hats. Nevertheless, its simple structure and simple implementation are superior in terms of simpler and effective problem solving methods.
The name is misleading
The undeniable charm of the Six Thinking Hats lies in its evocative name, an elegant metaphor depicting the necessity of adopting different perspectives. However, this metaphorical charm belies the practical challenges of the method, and fails to provide clear instructions on the nuanced application of each perspective. Thus, the metaphor, while appealing, fails to guide users toward effective utilization of the method’s distinct hat perspective, ultimately contributing to an often confused problem-solving process.
The way to good facilitation
For those who are determined to delve into the six thinking hats, it is recommended to first master the PMI method. Then moving on to using the FFI method (Feel, Fact, Interesting) can act as an intermediate step to eventually navigating the complexities of the six thinking hats. This gradual approach ensures that one learns to manage parallel thinking, which promotes a more nuanced understanding of different problem-solving techniques.
Below we describe the six thinking hats method:
The method of the six thinking hats, or Six Thinking Hats, also known as “De Bono’s Six Hats” or “The Six Hats”, is a tool for group discussions and individual thinking.
The method was developed by Dr. Edward de Bono, a renowned expert on creativity and thinking. The method is based on the idea that the human brain can think in different ways and by identifying and distinguishing these different ways of thinking, individuals and groups can become more effective problem solvers and decision makers.
The Six Hats method uses six metaphorical hats, each representing a different type of thinking:
This hat represents neutral and objective thinking. It is used to gather information and analyze facts and data.
This hat represents emotional and intuitive thinking. It is used to express feelings, sensations and gut reactions.
This hat represents critical and negative thinking. It is used to identify problems and evaluate risks and constraints.
This hat represents positive and constructive thinking. It is used to identify opportunities, benefits and solutions.
This hat represents creative and innovative thinking. It’s a bit of a meta hat. It is used to generate new ideas and options.
This hat represents strategic thinking and holistic thinking. It is used to manage the thought process and plan the next step.
The Six Hats method is used by having participants take turns thinking and discussing issues while wearing each of the metaphorical hats. By doing so, individuals and groups can gain a more comprehensive understanding of a problem or decision, generate new ideas, and make more informed and effective decisions. If you get hold of physical hats with different colors, this of course adds a dimension.
It helps to overcome prejudices and to see different perspectives, by changing hats you can see the problem from a different angle and find new solutions.
It is important to note that the Six Hats method is a tool for improving thinking, generating new ideas from new perspectives and for decision making, not to replace critical thinking or other problem solving techniques.