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THE SIX THINKING HATS


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The Six Thinking Hats is a creative thinking technique used to
look at decisions from a number of different points of view. It
forces the participants to move outside of their habitual thinking
style, and helps in the decision-making process.
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He is regarded by many as the
worlds leading authority in
the field of creative and
conceptual thinking. His
theories, concepts and tools
are used as a driver of
organizational innovation,
strategic leadership and
problem solving.
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Creative Thinking
Decision Making
Problem Solving
DESCRIPTION OF THE SIX THINKING HATS
The Six Thinking Hats is a simple, but powerful technique introduced by Dr Edward de Bono in one of his books. It is used to
analyse decisions from a number of different perspectives. It forces you to move outside of your habitual thinking style and
helps to get a balanced view of a situation.

The technique outlines different thinking processes associated with a different coloured hat. It opens up the opportunity for
creativity within Decision Making, allowing for sounder and more resilient choices to be made.

There are six different color imaginary hats that you can put on or take off. These identify the type or direction of thinking of
a group at a particular time. The main idea is to have the group wear only one hat at a time.

This approach is based on the concept of parallel thinking, opposed to traditional thinking. It forces the team members to
adopt, together, a particular thinking style represented by each coloured hat.

The two following videos are both 30 minutes long, but its worth it digging a bit deeper in the concepts attached to this
creative technique. Professor De Bono presents the Six Thinking Hats very clearly.
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During the preparation phase, the person who called for the meeting poses a specific question or calls for
METHODOLOGY
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a decision on a particular topic. In order for the Six Thinking Hats group exercise to be efficient a leader, a
timekeeper and a person taking note should be designated, and a time limit should be defined.
There many different Hats sequences being used successfully in meetings and practical situations. It
really depends of the nature of the issue. The sequence described here is a common example when the
technique is applied to find a creative solution to a problem.
BLUE HAT
Generally, people start with the blue hat to
discuss how the meeting will be conducted
and to develop the goals and objectives in
more details. During this first phase, the
leader asks the participants the following
questions:
Why are we here?
What we are thinking about?
What is the definition of the situation
or problem?
What are alternative definitions?
What we want to achieve?
Starting with the blue hat also allows to plan
for the hats sequence following this first
step.
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WHITE HAT
Participants are encouraged to review
existing information, search for gaps in
knowledge, analyze past trends, and
extrapolate key learnings from historical
data. At this stage, the following questions
may be asked:
What information do we have?
What information do we need?
What information is mission?
What questions do we need to ask?
How are we going to get the
information we need?
The participants must stay as neutral and
objective as possible, without bringing any
judgement opinion on the problem.
2
RED HAT
Once the problem is fully defined and the
objective and historical data has been
brought up; the Red hat can be used to ask
participants how they feel about the problem
or situation. They use intuition, gut reaction
and emotions. Encourages them to think
3
BLACK HAT
This stage is used to look at the problem
through the logical, critical thinking lens.
What makes the participants careful,
cautious, or defensive about the topic? It
helps to identify dangers, problems and
obstacles. Questions asked can be:
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about and accept other peoples reactions.
Participants do not need to explain or justify
their views or feelings. The questions to ask
are:
How do you feel about that?
How do you react to this?
What is your intuition/opinion about
this?
Whats the first thing that comes in
your mind?
What will happen if we take this
action?
What can go wrong if we proceed?
What are the weaknesses?
How will people respond?
Will it work? Why it wont work?
The purpose is not to enter in an argument,
but rather to make plans and decisions more
resilient and to spot flaws and risks
beforehand.
YELLOW HAT
This stage helps capturing the positive
aspects of the problem or situation. By
wearing the Yellow Hat, the participants are
encouraged to think about the benefits and
the positive added value in attached to the
situation.
What is the merit of the approach?
What positives can you see in this idea?
What could be done to make this work
better? Faster? Cheaper?
How could this help us?
5
GREEN HAT
This is when participants express their
creativity and generate new innovative ideas.
Everyone is encouraged to use creative
thinking to overcome the possible issues and
to develop alternative (out of the box)
solutions to the situation.
What are some other ways to solve this
out?
What are some fresh ideas or
approaches?
Think outside the box? What other
alternatives come up?
Can we shape it or adapt current
solutions?
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RED HAT
After the creative Green Hat phase, it is quite
interesting to put back the Red Hat on to
evaluate how participants are feeling about
what has been discussed until then. In many
cases, participants that were initially
concerned feel more positive and
enthusiastic about the situation and the
ideas that were brought up.
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BLUE HAT
Closing with the Blue Hat allows to develop
conclusions, to evaluate and to summarise
the solutions or decisions taken. The leader
and scribe can try at this stage to summarize
where the Six Hat Thinking technique led the
team.
What have we achieved today ?
What decision have we reached ?
What are the next steps ?
If a solution or resolution was not clearly
identified, they could suggest another
technique capable of solving the problem.
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GO FURTHER WITH THE SIX THINKING HATS
Edward de Bonos official website (www.debono.com)
de Bono, E. (1999) Six Thinking Hats, New York: Back Bay Books (book available here)
Keep in mind that you will get the best out of this creative technique when you fully understand the concepts in De Bonos
work and if the group exercise is managed correctly. A network of authorised de Bono distributors and trainers deliver
training in a number of de Bono methods around the world. If you want to use the de Bono tools such as Six Thinking Hats
to solve complex problems or to achieve challenging projects in your company, do not hesitate to contact de Bono Thinking
Systems to find an authorised trainer in your city or region.
de Bono Thinking Systems is the authorised distributor of the associated training programmes for the commercial training
sector.
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For all IP related enquiries including the de Bono publishing materials, copyright approvals and licensing please contact de
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