Six Thinking Hats 1
Six Thinking Hats
The de Bono Hats system (also known as "Six Hats" or "Six Thinking Hats") is a thinking tool for group discussion
and individual thinking. Combined with the idea of parallel thinking which is associated with it, it provides a means
for groups to think together more effectively, and a means to plan thinking processes in a detailed and cohesive way.
The method is attributed to Dr. Edward de Bono and is the subject of his book, Six Thinking Hats .
The paternity of this method is disputed by the School of Thinking.
The method is finding some use in the UK innovation sector, is offered by some facilitation companies and has been
trialled within ...view middle of the document...
Switching to a state is symbolized by the act of putting on a
coloured hat, either literally or metaphorically. These metaphors allow for more complete and elaborate segregation
of the states than the preconceptions inherent in people's current language. All of these thinking hats help for
thinking more deeply. The six thinking hats indicate problems and solutions about an idea or a product you might
come up with. Furthermore, Dr de Bono asserts that these states are associated with distinct chemical states of the
brain — however, no details or evidence of this are presented.
In ordinary, unstructured thinking this process is unfocussed; the thinker leaps from critical thinking to neutrality to
optimism and so on without structure or strategy. The Six Thinking Hats process attempts to introduce parallel
Many individuals are used to this and develop their own habits unconsciously. Sometimes these are effective, other
times not. What is certain is that when thinking in a group these individual strategies will not tend to converge. As a
result, discussion will tend not to converge. Due to the power of the ego and the identified predilection to black hat
thinking in the majority of western culture, this can lead to very destructive meetings. Even with good courtesy and
clear shared objectives in any collaborative thinking activity there is a natural tendency for "spaghetti thinking"
where one person is thinking about the benefits while another considers the facts and so on. The hats allow this to be
avoided so that everyone together considers the problems, or the benefits, or the facts, reducing distractions and
Six Thinking Hats 2
supporting cross pollination of thought. This is achieved because everyone will put on one hat, e.g., the white hat,
together, then they will all put on the next hat together. In this way all present think in the same way at the same
time. The only exception being the facilitator who will tend to keep the blue hat on all the time to make sure things
progress effectively. The blue hat tends to be the outward-looking, leader/trail blazing hat that attracts the leaders of
Strategies and Programs
Having identified the six states that can be accessed, distinct programs can be created, these are sequences of hats
which encompass and structure the thinking process toward a distinct goal. A number of these are included in the
materials provided to support the franchised training of the six hats method; however it is often necessary to adapt
them to suit an individual purpose. Also, programs are often "emergent" which is to say that the group might plan the
first few hats then the facilitator will see what seems to be the right way to go.
Sequences always begin and end with a blue hat; the group agrees together how they will think, then they do the
thinking, then they evaluate the outcomes of that thinking and what they should do next. Sequences (and indeed...