Six Thinking Hats Aug 28, 2014 Author Sydney Painters; bloomin

Article from wikipedia,

Underlying principles

The premise of the method is that the human brain thinks in a number of distinct ways which can be deliberately challenged, and hence planned for use in a structured way allowing one to develop tactics for thinking about particular issues. De Bono identifies six distinct directions in which the brain can be challenged. In each of these directions the brain will identify and bring into conscious thought certain aspects of issues being considered (e.g. gut instinct, pessimistic judgement, neutral facts). None of these directions are completely natural ways of thinking, but rather how some of us already represent the results of our thinking.


Since the hats do not represent natural modes of thinking, each hat must be used for a limited time only. Also, many will feel that using the hats is unnatural, uncomfortable or even counter productive and against their better judgement.

A compelling example presented is sensitivity to “mismatch” stimuli. This is presented as a valuable survival instinct, because, in the natural world: the thing that is out of the ordinary may well be dangerous. This mode is identified as the root of negative judgement and critical thinking.

Six distinct directions are identified and assigned a color. The six directions are:

Managing (Blue) – what is the subject? what are we thinking about? what is the goal?

Information (White) – considering purely what information is available, what are the facts?

Emotions (Red) – intuitive or instinctive gut reactions or statements of emotional feeling (but not any justification)

Discernment (Black) – logic applied to identifying reasons to be cautious and conservative

Optimistic response (Yellow) – logic applied to identifying benefits, seeking harmony

Creativity (Green) – statements of provocation and investigation, seeing where a thought goes

Coloured hats are used as metaphors for each direction. Switching to a direction is symbolized by the act of putting on a coloured hat, either literally or metaphorically. These metaphors allow for a more complete and elaborate segregation of the thinking directions. The six thinking hats indicate problems and solutions about an idea the thinker may come up with.

Strategies and programs

Having identified the six modes of thinking 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 hats) may be used by individuals working alone or in groups.

Article from wikipedia,

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