Thinking hats provide a safe environment for everyone in a meeting to give ideas, express positive/negative aspects, and share emotions. The concept of using six different hats was developed by Edward DeBono as a way to get people thinking both creatively and logically about generating and assessing ideas. Below is a suggested process sequence for using hats in a creative session.
- Blue hat worn by the meeting facilitator to ensure an effective “Six Thinking Hats” process is followed. Open the meeting with purpose statement of what meeting is for. Then define each hat and the best order to progress through them.
- White hat reviews any data that is available on the subject being discussed. Everyone that has real data to contribute, whether good or bad related to subject should present the data without any bias or interpretation.
- Green hat starts to generate workable and out-of-the box ideas. Use creative idea generation methods like brainstorming or creative thinking methods such as random word to begin the process. Remind everyone to only provide ideas and not to express any opinions about the ideas until the appropriate hats that follow.
- Yellow hat review requires everyone to see the positive in items from the green hat process. Be constructive when discussing the benefits and opportunities that each idea could present.
- Black review allows each person to express their negative assessment of an idea in a non-argumentative way. Discuss faults, errors, or risks related to the items being discussed. Feel free to ask questions to clarify ideas or potential processes that can be pursued.
- Green hat follows to determine best ideas to pursue from yellow hat and creative solutions to problems identified in black reviewing.
- Red hat provides an opportunity to express feelings or emotions tied to the best option(s) selected. This emotional discussion of what each person in the room feels or reactions they believe others may have helps to work out issues. This may result in good plans for various contingencies.
- Blue hat assures the group that progress has been made by restating the purpose of the session. The meeting process and final results should be summarized. Then the facilitator gets actions assigned or tells the group what happens next with their results.
Using this hat sequence in a creative session will allow all meeting members to feel comfortable sharing. It can prevent anyone from feeling as if they or their ideas are being picked on. Use DeBono’s six thinking hats when holding an idea generating session where the ideas will also need to be looked at for both positive and negative potential.