Six thinking hats and how to decrease time of collaboration

In every set up of collaboration, one thing is common — it takes time. In the perpetually changing world, it is getting too difficult to help ourselves to get time for us. Modern office environment requires lots of collaborations. On the other hand, meeting has a huge trade off. It sucks indivudual focus and time. It gets long if not strictly monitored. It has so many dark sides that some companies try to initiate meetingless day.

So how can we solve this conundrum?

Well, there are so many ways to minimize the damage of meeting. The purposes of this methods are to minimize the time of collaboration and maximize the effect. One of them is the ‘Six Thinking Hats.‘

What is the ‘Six Thinking Hats’ ?

The term was coined by Edward de Bono. In a nutshell, it is a technique with which a team or an individual can maximize the output from a decision making process in a short period of time. Here I’m going to explain how a team can use the six thinking hats technique to increase productivity and output of a collaboration. There would be six imaginary hats, each of them represents certain mode of thinking. All of the team members in the meeting can wear only one hat at a time, and together. That is the foundation of the idea of ‘Six Thinking Hats.‘ When team decides to switch to a hat, every team member has to wear that hat. Now it’s time to get the idea of nitty gritty details:

The Six Thinking Hats (image collected from www.dreamstimes.com)

The six hats have is different colors and the six colors have different meanings.

The Blue Hat

The blue hat is about agenda. Sometimes the blue hat can be the initial hat to be used. When the team wears it, the team members can only think and talk about the agenda of the meeting. What is the purpose of the meeting? What can they achieve after finishing the meeting? That means the clear purpose of the meeting. Before the collaboration the team needs to know something. After the collaboration, the team would be clear about some certain agendas. The goal of wearing a blue hat is to determine the agenda. Why are we here at the meeting and what we want to achieve after doing this collaboration?

The White Hat

The white hat is the factual hat. It only deals with data. When the team members at a meeting wear the white hat, they can deal with factual data. Not any decisions can be made in this phase of collaboration. Team members can present the relevant information regarding the meeting. There would be no decision involved, not emotional argument or opinion expressed. This is why the hat is white. It represents neutrality.

The Red Hat

This is the emotional hat. Team members can express their sheer emotion regarding any decision or agenda when the team members wear this hat. It is more about being human rather than being a cog in the machine. We can feel upset, we can feel angry sometimes. But the thing is the red hat allows us to throw it out in front of the team in a healthy manner. It helps us to build trust among the team members.

The Green Hat

This is very important. It is about idea. When a collaboration happens, it is so common that lots of ideas being generated. Wearing this hat allows the team members to flow the ideas and share with each other. No matter how weird the idea might be, they can express it without any hesitation. The role of the green hat is crucial for the outcome of the collaboration. A healthy team creates an environment where everyone can express their idea and propagate the collaboration forward with the highest propensity.

The Yellow Hat

The yellow hat is about optimism. It is human nature to defend something of which we are not comfortable about. It can happen to any of us. This hat enables the team to be optimistic. May be the idea is absurd, the idea is far from being feasible, but the team would use the creativity to make the idea seem feasible. In this way we can become hopeful and creative. When everyone of the team tries to become hopeful, magic can happen. In the crucial time of taking decision, yellow hat can go hand in hand with the green hat. Usually a team switch to a yellow hat phase after wearing the green hat. In that way a team can discuss about how the idea can become a reality.

The Black Hat

It is the hat of the negative emotions. It is a check and balance for the yellow hat. Idea is cheap, the thing matters is — execution of the idea and reflect it in the reality. When a team switches to the black hat, the team members come up with the logic to express their skepticism regarding the ideas generated by wearing the green hat. They can find the loopholes and the problems of the ideas. In this way, a dangerous idea which seems innocuous at the beginning can be detected earlier.

This video can help you understand the idea of using six thinking hats in collaboration.


The six thinking hats can be used for individual decision making too. But for the scope of my writing I reflected upon the usage of using this technique in a collaborative environment. In the next post, I will discuss more on the team building and collaboration methodologies.

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