Making Decisions Using the Six Hats Method

Most of our decisions are made quickly and unconsciously. Once a decision is made, we often engage our analytical brain to search for data that supports our choice, creating the illusion of a rational decision-making process. Making sound decisions can be challenging and even stressful. Therefore, it’s beneficial to learn new decision-making techniques rather than relying on old patterns and habits. One excellent tool for decision-making and problem-solving is the Six Thinking Hats created by Edward de Bono.

The Six Hats method encourages parallel thinking and communication in a group. This reduces conflict by keeping the team focused on one aspect of a situation or problem at a time. Each “hat” represents a different style of thinking. Moving methodically through each different style leads us to consider a problem from multiple angles and fosters more balanced, comprehensive decision-making. Here’s how to use the Six Hats to separate your thoughts into distinct categories.

1. White Hat (Information)

Put on the White Hat to tackle a decision through objective thinking and focus on the facts, data, and information. While your team looks at a decision with the White Hat approach, avoid the temptation to interpret data or include opinions. Ask your team to examine questions like, what information is available? What are the facts? What do we need to know?

2. Red Hat (Emotions)

Put on the Red Hat and listen to your emotions as you think through a problem. Channel your inner Obi-Wan Kenobi and trust your feelings. What does your gut say? What emotions come up as you think about the decision you face? How do you feel about the options?

3. Black Hat (Critical Thinking)

Put on the Black Hat and explore the potential problems that may arise with the decision your team faces. What might go wrong? What are the risks? Make critical judgments. Where might the proverbial wheels come off? Why might the potential solutions to your problem not work?

4. Yellow Hat (Optimism)

Put on the Yellow Hat and think positively. Look for the benefits and opportunities each outcome may bring. List the reasons this idea is worth pursuing. What good outcomes can we achieve? How can these choices benefit the group or organization?

5. Green Hat (Creativity)

Put on the Green Hat and get your creative juices flowing. Brainstorm potential solutions. Think outside the box. When your team wears the Green Hat, no idea is a bad idea. You never know what will spark a great solution or alternative course of action.

6. Blue Hat (Process)

Put on the Blue Hat to organize your thinking. Use the Blue Hat to step back and look at the process as a whole. This is the time to set goals for your team and summarize outcomes. Ask questions like, what is the next step? How can we organize our thinking?

Learn How to Make Great Decisions

Making complex decisions is one of life’s toughest tasks. The great news is that there are several pragmatic methods for decision-making and creative problem-solving, and we can teach you how to use them. Check out our training session on Creativity and Problem-solving and get the tools you need to streamline your decision-making process and invite collaborative decision-making. Contact us today for more information.