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The «Six Thinking Hats» is a method of group thinking in- «Six Thinking Hats» is a method of group thinking in- Six Thinking Hats» is a method of group thinking in- » is a method of group thinking in- is a method of group thinking in-
vented by Edward de Bono that can be applied to various
business situations.
In this method, De Bono makes use of six hats. The six
hats, each of them in a different color, represent six dis-
tinctive styles of thinking about an issue or solution to a
This method differs from the standard way of simultane-
ously debating about conflicting aspects insofar that the
«Six Thinking Hats» method uses the means of parallel
Parallel thinking reflects the idea that all participants think
in one way about the given issue. Since there are six differ-
ent ways (six hats), the issue or the proposal is addressed
deeply from six distinctive perspectives.
In distinction to methods of free associations (i.e. brainstor-
ming), methods of structured associations all follow a given
structure to organize the idea generating process more
In this handout you will find the most important steps of
the presented methods for structured associations which
are the following: the Disney method, the Six Thinking
Hats, Mind Maps and the Scamper-method.
The Disney method is a popular technique of structured as-
sociations written by Robert Dilts. It’s a role playing, which
consists of three different angle of view: the dreamer, the
realist and the critic. The name of the method originates
from the film producer Walt Disney, who used this process
to generate his ideas. They say that Walt had three chairs
in his office to adopt each of the roles.
THE DREAMER is an enthusiastic visionary with a lot of
creativity. His task is to generate fantastic ideas, which
not only can but also should sometimes be crazy, illogical
and extraordinary. He thinks in pictures, is future oriented,
optimistic and chaotic. He’s open-minded for the visions
of others and contributes to these. Important is that there
aren’t any limitations and rules in his position.
THE REALIST This perspective is responsible for the con-
crete plan for the implementation. He takes the ideas of
the dreamer and looks, how these can be transformed into
practical present actions. His plan consists of the working
steps, process and requirements. The question that matters
is: What is feasible and what do we have already/ what
else do we need?
THE CRITIC is the pessimistic one. He searches for mis-
takes of the other two, especially of the realist, because
the realist’s plan is the base for his control. He looks for
amelioration, studies the chances and risks and examines if
the planer has forgotten anything.
Sometimes there’s used also an expansion with a fourth
position: the neutral one, which observes and analyses the
od can be applied by one single person. The procedure
always begins with putting oneself in the position of the
dreamer. There should be three chairs or rooms for a better
separation of the different perspectives. So you sit first on
the dreamer-chair and have your creative idea generating
session. After a short pause you change to the chair of the
realist and think of every generated idea. Before going to
the critic you can again take a little break. Now you can
start again with the dreamer improving the results of the
first round and repeat the process as long as you like.
A group can achieve more effective results than only one
person. Therefore the members should divide into the
three possible views and discuss a problem. When they
have reached a point they can switch into another role.
THE THREE PLACES The places can support the em-
pathizing with the roles and make it easier to feel either
creative or critic. The dreamer place can be colorful and
decorated with pictures and beautiful fragrant flowers.
Before the beginning of the idea creation you can imagine
here a situation, in which you had a brilliant idea. The real-
ist’s place has to be provided with his working equipment.
Again you can imagine a position, in which you imple-
mented a vision well. The last place should be simple and
decorated with diagrams. Imagine here your best analysis.
The purpose of the technique is making sure every role
is considered and has a place in the idea creating. There
should be a balance between the absurd, abstract visions
and the reality, feasibility.
An extension of the Disney method is the six thinking hats
from Edward Bono.
SOURCES http://uni-protokolle.de/Lexikon/Walt-Disney-
Methode.html, graphic is an own illustration
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Mind Mapping is used as a creativity technique that serves
to visualize and structure thinking processes and ideas. It is
basically nothing more than a graphical presentation of a
main topic in connection with subordinated, related issues
on a sheet of paper. The basic idea is that the usual way
of catching ideas by writing them down in whole is far too
slow to keep up with the enormous speed of current ideas.
In the flow of thoughts, sometimes time is the enemy to
be able to keep all the ideas and we are taking the risk to
lose at least a bit of more productive intentions coming up
SHAPE The usual, linear way to put ideas together is just
to write them down, issue by issue, delaying the creative
and spontaneous way of grasping immediate ideas. The
The «Six Thinking Hats» represent the following styles of
1. BLUE HAT (thinking about thinking)
Controls, coordinates and moderates the session.
2. WHITE HAT (information)
Which pieces of information and facts do we
have? Everything is gathered together.
3. RED HAT (emotions)
What gut and instinctive feelings do we have
concerning the issue? We say what we feel and do
not bother to give any reasons for that.
4. BLACK HAT (negative)
What are the constraints and negative aspects of
the proposal? Where are dangers and what do we
have to consider?
5. YELLOW HAT (positive)
What are the benefits and positive features? Is there a logi-
cal base for these benefits? Can the idea be accomplished?
6. GREEN HAT (creativity)
It’s an objective and detached way of thinking
about the addressed matter. What new ideas and alterna-
tives can we generate? It’s an innovative process to gener-
ate new options and to elaborate on the given idea.
EXAMPLE A marketing team of a chewing gum company
has as its goal to attract more customers. It proposes to
give free samples every Saturday at the Bahnhofstrasse for
the next two weeks.
A «Six Thinking Hats» session about this idea may be de- «Six Thinking Hats» session about this idea may be de- session about this idea may be de-
signed in the following way: A few group members wear
a blue hat permanently time to control and moderate the
session. Then, sequentially all other members put simulta-
neously the same colored hat on to think about the issue in
the way represented by the hat they currently wear. Each
hat is worn for approx. 3 minutes, except the red one.; the
red one is worn only shortly to make sure people tell their
immediate gut feelings towards the proposition.
SOURCES Six Thinking Hats described: http://www.
debonogroup.com/six_thinking_hats.php and http://
Further reading about an example: http://www.edward-
Hat pictures from http://debonoforschools.com/asp/
Mind Map Method is a process to write down ideas in a
radial way, compensating the disadvantage of the linear
way and supporting the users to put down essential ideas
on paper immediately.
HOW TO The key issue, respectively the main topic is in
the center of the sheet and the sub-concepts are structured
as branches attached to the center. These associations can
also be linked among by lines and arrows. As a result, the
visualization appears as sort of tree, separating different
topics graphically and providing a blueprint of the thinking
process. As only catchwords instead of sentences are being
used, the rapid flow of thoughts and input can be granted,
without losing potential ideas. Using images, numbers
and colors is enhancing the allover creative potential and
new ideas are being expedited. In this way a large number
of related ideas can quickly be produced with virtually no
mental effort. This method helps to organize everyday´s
projects. One of the main advantages is, that you do not
need a special previous knowledge, just add your ideas!
CONTINUOUS PROCESS Mind Maps are open systems
that can be revised continuously. When the thinking prog-
ress is being disturbed it can be paused and resumed later.
The concept of ‘writers block’ is hard to understand once
you have grasped the use of this simple technique!
WORK WITH IMAGES Another individual characteristic
of the Mind Map is the possibility to work with sketches
and images. This is most likely an advantage but also could
be the opposite: The user can use and underline his ideas
with graphics and images to state his case but on the other
hand, the individual and not conform way to standards to
express ideas might make them unclear for other individu-
Nevertheless, the usage of Mind Maps is knowing no
limits, collecting ideas for the job and studies; up to every-
body’s usual life.
ORIGIN The idea of the Mind Map firstly was described
in 1971 by the British psychologist Tony Buzan in his book
“An Encyclopedia of the Brain and its Use”. He had the
theory, that mind mapping brings both cerebral hemi-
spheres working together more efficiently, resulting in syn-
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2. COMBINE Following, it is advisable to think about
merging of different parts, that will allow you to use
their synergy effects. Good results were achieved through
combination of seemingly unrelated products, services,
rules or ideas.
3. ADAPT A further step is adaptation. This creative
method underlines that most of new ideas or projects
were borrowed to some extend by simply alteration of the
old ones.
4. MODIFY Bearing in mind that modification can help
to trigger the process of finding a suitable solution to
the problem by giving you new insight about what compo-
nents of the product can be of the utmost importance.
5. PUT TO ANOTHER USE One further step is to think
about the usage of your idea for other people than it
originally intended for, i.e. for handicapped, for children
or for old people, or could this idea be used differently?
Thinking of reuse of goods or services can put things in
completely new perspective.
6. ELIMINATE One additional advantage can be found
by thinking about how you might be able to change
the feature of your idea by minimizing non-essentials – by
removing unnecessary parts. It allows you to pay attention
to the core of your idea and to decide what is the most
important. This is also the best way to save money and to
maximize profit of the company.
7. REARRANGE And last but not least to complete
your idea is to decide what should be done if part of the
problem, product or process works differently. For examp-
le, in different order or even in reverse. This could be done
by answering these questions:
- What should be done if I try to do the opposite of what
my business competitors do or of what I originally inten-
- How can I relocate the products or people?
- How should I transpose advantages or disadvantages?
One further brain-storming method is called SCAMPER
which was developed by Bob Eberle in the early 70ies. The
idea of this method is very simple: through combination
of different activities create something completely new by
modifying something that already exists.
Each capital letter represents an above-mentioned activity
S – Substitute
C – Combine
A – Adapt
M – Modify
P – Put to another use
E – Eliminate
R – Rearrange
1. SUBSTITUTE The very first step is to exchange
products or processes, anything can be replaced: people
in charge, rules, procedures, goods, shapes, color, smells,
parts, places or attitude.
COPYRIGHTS This handout is brought to you by Group 2
in FS12: Marlène Rump, Majda Mutapcic, Mateusz Mier-
zwinski, Galina Barskaya, Tatjana Kogan and Fabien Götz
ergetic effects and increasing the intellectual potential. This
idea to generate ideas creates the possibility to imbed own
thoughts and concepts in an easy and quick way to be
recorded and structured. It is a widespread technique, not
only in universities but also in everyday´s life - as a support
in learning processes, reminders and protocols.
SOURCES http://www.knowledgeboard.com/item/2980;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindmap; http://members.
mapfaq.html; The picture was taken from: http://www.
is McDonalds. Its founder Ray Kroc has found the whole
concept by using three parts of SCAMPER, in fact he used
P = Put to another use by selling restaurants (franchising
system) and real estate instead of only hamburgers.
E = Eliminate by using self-service, avoiding the use of
waiters und minimizing costs and
R = Rearrange by having customers pay before they eat.
As you see there are different ways and examples of how
SCAMPER might be used.
SOURCES http://litemind.com/scamper/ (icons are as well
from this site)