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Key Points


  • The Six Thinking Hats method offers a multifaceted lens for decision-making.
  • Developed by Edward de Bono, it ensures all perspectives are considered.
  • Each “hat” or perspective can be used individually or within group discussions.




The Six Thinking Hats

In the world of decision-making, the importance of comprehensive analysis cannot be overstated. The ‘Six Thinking Hats’ method, innovated by Edward de Bono, furnishes a systematic approach to view decisions from multiple angles. Whether you’re contemplating alone or brainstorming in a team, this tool ensures every vital perspective is given its due consideration.


Deciphering the Six Thinking Hats

Each hat symbolizes a unique perspective. By “donning” each hat, one can explore varied facets of a decision:

  1. 🟡 Yellow Hat (Optimism): Focus on the positives. Unearth the potential benefits and opportunities.
  2. 🟢 Green Hat (Creativity): Let imagination reign. Conceive out-of-the-box solutions. Techniques like the Productive Thinking Model or First Principles might augment this process.
  3. 🔴 Red Hat (Emotion): Tune into feelings. Understand gut reactions and predict how others might emotionally respond.
  4. ⚪️ White Hat (Data): Be objective. Dive into data, analyze trends, and derive conclusions based on hard facts.
  5. ⚫️ Black Hat (Caution): Understand potential pitfalls. Visualize worst-case scenarios and areas of vulnerability. The principle of Inversion can be handy here.
  6. 🔵 Blue Hat (Process Control): Steer the discussion or thinking process. It’s about organizing and synthesizing the inputs from all other hats.



    A Glimpse in Action:

    Imagine a management team deliberating the launch of a new product to combat dwindling sales. Using the Six Thinking Hats:

    • 🟡 Yellow Hat: The team identifies a potential market segment for the new product.

    • ⚫️ Black Hat: Concerns arise about the new product overshadowing existing ones or not bringing enough value to the table.

    • ⚪️ White Hat: Data suggests there are unaddressed market needs and indicates a shift in consumer preferences.

    • 🟢 Green Hat: Ideas flow about prototyping and testing the product’s value.

    • 🔵 Blue Hat: A decision is made to validate the product with consumers before a final decision.

    • 🔴 Red Hat: The team collectively feels this approach will mitigate risks, and there’s a consensus on the way forward.




    Practical Exercise

    Reflect on a Past Decision: Apply the Six Thinking Hats retrospectively on a past decision. What insights emerge from each perspective? Would the outcome have been different with this comprehensive analysis?

    Incorporate in Group Discussions: The next time you’re in a group setting, assign different hats to team members. After a round of discussion, rotate the hats. Observe the richness and diversity of the discussion.

    Personal Journaling: When faced with personal decisions, journal your thoughts under each hat. This ensures a rounded introspection.

    Ask Yourself:

    • Which “hat” do I naturally lean towards in decision-making?
    • Are there decisions where I might have benefited from a more comprehensive analysis?
    • How can I make the Six Thinking Hats a habitual part of my decision-making process?


    Insight: Understanding and analyzing decisions from multiple perspectives isn’t just strategic; it’s about ensuring every decision is well-rounded and resilient. The Six Thinking Hats method is more than just a tool; it’s a compass that navigates you through the intricacies of choices, ensuring every voice, data point, and intuition has its say.

    Tiny Nudge: Next time you’re at the crossroads of a decision, remember that every hat you wear illuminates a new path. Embrace the diversity of perspectives to find the most informed way forward.



    Embracing the ‘Six Thinking Hats’ is akin to arming oneself with a multi-faceted lens to scrutinize decisions. By understanding, adopting, and weaving these perspectives into our decision-making fabric, we pave the way for more informed, resilient, and comprehensive outcomes.

    Further Reading: For those keen on delving deeper, Edward de Bono’s book, “Six Thinking Hats,” remains the authoritative guide on this transformative method.


    For More on Decision Making:

    • Mental Models: A mental model is simply a representation of how something works. We cannot keep all of the details of the world in our brains, so we use models to simplify the complex into understandable and organizable chunks.
    • Hard choice model: A guide to discerning the nature of the decisions you’re faced with.
    • Speed vs Quality model: A guide with an emphasis on when to optimize for speed or quality.
    • Hanlon’s Razor: This is a mental model that advises not to attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by neglect or ignorance.Research shows that generous acts can result in dramatic health benefits.