Debra Davis, PhD
Does it seem to you that the challenges we have to deal with today have become more and more complicated? Nothing seems as simple to me as it did before. Maybe it’s just my age! Often when there is a problem to be solved or a decision to be made, the discussion seems to go on and on with little forward movement on a decision. This factor can be magnified by the number of people in the conversation. Or maybe you have a decision you need to make alone that is just too complicated for you to get your head around. You think and think and then FINALLY make a decision. Then, lo and behold, you get some result that was never even thought about. Sound familiar?
Using Edward de Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats to study a problem and make decisions helps to minimize those unexpected outcomes—helps you to eat the elephant one bite at a time, so to speak, rather than trying to consumer the entire thing at once. It’s certainly important to consider all sides of an issue, but it is not always productive to consider them all at once. de Bono’s parallel thinking process gets everyone in the group to think about each side of an issue in a more productive and focused manner. As a team leader or meeting manager, you can easily use the hats to focus or redirect thoughts and conversation. And if you are decision-making on your own, it helps you to segment out your own personal thoughts to think of them one at a time as opposed to all jumbled together.
The mind map below provides a basic overview of things to be considered while wearing each hat. So put on your BLUE HAT and try it next time you or your teams have to deal with a complicated issue.