The six thinking hats is a method used to amplify creative conversations, by making sure that a broad variety of viewpoints and thinking styles are represented. Using six roles (or "hats"), the framework — developed by Dr. Edward de Bono — allows teams to more easily structure abstract thinking for productive results.
The six hats are:
The white hat: This is the objective hat, which focuses on facts and logic
The red hat: This is the intuitive hat, focusing on emotion and instinct
The black hat: This is the cautious hat, used to predict negative outcomes
The yellow hat: This is the optimistic hat, used to look for positive outcomes
The green hat: This is the creative hat, where ideas are abundant and criticism spare
The blue hat: This is the hat of control, used for management and organization
In product development, the six thinking hats are used to divide up the project team into different groups (the white hat group, the red hat group, etc.). Each group talks about the product from their hat's perspective, i.e., the logical components, the emotional components, and so on. This allows for more focused collaboration among smaller groups that can later rejoin with stronger ideas and goals.
The six thinking hats were first published in 1985 by the respected psychologist Dr. Edward de Bono. The inspiration for writing the book came from structuring creative thinking, which often leads to confusion and disagreement, especially in groups of people.
The "hats" allow for organized and effective group thinking.