Six Thinking Hats

  • What are the six thinking hats?
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What are the six thinking hats?


Definition of the six thinking hats

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.

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History of the six thinking hats

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.

General FAQ

What are the six thinking hats?
The six thinking hats is a tool to boost the productivity of creative thinking by dividing up the different styles of thinking into six "hats": logic, emotion, caution, optimism, creativity, and control. Each person, or team, takes on the role of a hat, ensuring that all viewpoints and styles are covered.
What are the six thinking hats used for?
Teams can use the six thinking hats when working towards a goal without a clear solution, like when developing a product or service. The method can be used any time brainstorming is required, however, and doesn't require a group of people to be implemented. An individual can use the six thinking hats alone, by forcing themselves to “play” the role of each hat.

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