Pioneered by Edward de Bono, Six Thinking Hats is a facilitative technique
that allows individuals to “step-outside” of themselves and engage in the
thinking of a particular issue through a different mind-frame. As such it
allows facilitators to avoid or overcome group –think mentality during a
systemic design workshop.
When to use it?
Frame: Six Thinking Hats can be used during framing as a way to tease
out legacy or current ways of thinking.
Generate: Six thinking hats can be used to draw out user perspectives
regarding the plausibility or feasibility about using a particular prototype.
How to do it?
- Ask participants to metaphorically “wear” one of six thinking hats which ask participants to apply the following styles of thinking:
Blue Hat: thinking considers the process and
the use of the other hats.
White Hat: thinking considers information
requirements (facts and figures) without judgment
Green Hat: thinking
calls for creativity in ideas, concepts, and approaches. It focuses on creative
Black Hat: thinking considers negative implications—what is
wrong, incorrect, or why will a particular solution not work.
thinking considers positive implications—what is good, useful, or
Red Hat: thinking considers emotions, feelings, and
impressions without judgment.
Make sure to conclude by using the blue hat as means for summarizing the
main insights that were surfaced through the use of the other thinking styles.
Six thinking hats is a flexible tool
that can be applied any time “group-think” appears to be emerging within a
group, and diversity in thought is required. Can be used with groups between
Pros and cons
- Allows participants to share without risk;
- Generates understanding that there are multiple perspectives on an issue;
- Can improve communication and decision-making
- Depending on the thinking generated, further work may be needed to synthesize the diverse perspectives and/or address particular tensions between world-views that may be present.
Utilization of the six –hats method should be timed
when a change in thinking is needed to move a group forward. This requires a
facilitator to exercise a degree of sound judgment as to when this period is.