Thinking hats method for in-house product validation

How to use Six Thinking Hats in your creative process? How to define a good idea? How to validate ideas and what is the DNA of a super great team? Let’s break it down!

5 steps of the creative process

Can idea creation be made into a process? Well, a Hungarian-American psychologist called Mihaly Csikszentmihaly made a study where he sought out for the world’s best creative minds and asked them an open-ended question to describe their creative process.

From the results of more than 70 creatives’ processes, he concluded a 5 stage pattern — preparation, incubation, idea or the “aha moment”, evaluation and elaboration.

If you have come in touch with Google Ventures’ Design Sprint, it includes the same steps and so does our own process at Mobi Lab.

Six thinking hats

During the preparation phase, you will start discussions around some problems. If you don’t know where to start and how to approach the problem, then thinking hats method, known as Six Thinking Hats, might be a good starting point.

Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono is a model designed for creative teams to explore a complex problem, situation or a challenge from different perspectives to lead to more creative thinking, maximised productive collaboration and to allow to say out things without risk.

Different kinds of hats

During role-play an individual will adopt one of the six thinking hats that are respectfully coloured and represent the following perspectives:

White — Factual and analytical hat. Focuses on information available.
Red — Emotions, feelings and intuition hat. Presents views without explanations.
Green — Creative hat. Presents new ideas possibilities and hypothesis.
Yellow — Optimistic hat. Looks for good aspects and benefits.
Black — Pessimistic hat. Criticises why things are wrong.
Blue — Process lead hat. Observes and controls the process.

We hatch the problems

Yes, we work intensively from a couple of days to a full week, but we schedule strict time-offs to let the ideas incubate. As wine becomes better with age, so do ideas. Since we come from the North, we like to hatch our ideas during Sauna Fridays.

We’ve heard that the “aha moment” tends to strike in the shower or while on a long drive.

Passion for the idea

It’s not news that some ideas feel better than others. For example, digital cameras, aspirin, Disneyland and even the concept of Earth being round sound like no-brainers. But allegedly the idea for Disneyland was rejected 300 times before making it further from the drawing board. Myth or not but it supports the notion that good ideas get rejected all the time.

All ideas as mentioned earlier succeeded because the founders kept pushing and were true to their passion. Even Alice Bentinck from Entrepreneurs First brings out that startups fail not because of bad ideas but because they’re founders give up. When most of your effort goes into building a cool company instead of paying 100% attention to the concept and passionately creating a useful product, you are going to fail.

How not to fail

Right after the insight moment, we like to create a fake website to sell the product. The key is to sell the product before building it. The process was inspired by Noah Kagan and his methods on how to validate business ideas. Getting customers money up front shows if the product holds its ground or not.

The perfect team

In our experience, we have noticed two critical aspects that a great team needs to possess: passion and diversity. Passion is self-explanatory — You need people who will push the idea no matter what happens. The second part, diversity, is necessary because you want to bring in fresh minds.

Brian Uzzi and Jarrett Spiro show in their study that a team composed entirely of experts that have previous work relationships, perform worse than a mixed squad of experts and fresh talents with some previous work-relationships.

To conclude all the above, nailing the team and working passionately with your idea will make your today’s idea tomorrows success story.

This article was originally published by us at Framework has been used for workshops in Mobi Lab Design Fridays, UX.Live London and UX Tartu conferences.