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Six Thinking Hats is a system for conducting work sessions that claims to overcome the problems of factionalism, arguing, and groupthink. Different ways of thinking are represented by different colored hats. Participants are directed to “put on” these figurative hats and discuss issues from that hat’s particular point of view. Here is a simplified description of how it works.

The Blue Hat.

The only person who wears the Blue Hat is the outsider who moderates the work session. The Blue Hat has several responsibilities:

  • Outline the goals and the rules.
  • Manage the agenda.
  • Direct when each hat is worn.
  • Formulate questions.
  • Continuously drive the process forward.

White Hats.

When group members are wearing their White Hats, they look at the available facts and see what they can learn from them. They are instructed to prioritize facts over opinions and beliefs and wait for all information to be presented before reaching fact-based conclusions.

Red Hats.

When members wear their Red Hats, they are instructed to explore an emotional point of view, which means ignoring logic and avoiding any attempt trying to justify its feelings. Red Hats suggest solutions based upon personal feelings and hunches.

Black Hats.

Here the task is to evaluate the solutions offered by the other hats. Black Hats are instructed to identify weaknesses, flaws and dangers of every idea put forth.

Yellow Hats.

Members are instructed to be unfailingly optimistic and explore the benefits of each scenario developed. They focus on benefits, advantages, and what’s good about each idea.

Green Hats.

Here is where members take all the ideas, put them together, and suggest creative solutions that maximize the good and minimize the bad. They are specifically instructed to avoid the obvious.

The End Product.

The Blue Hat collates all the ideas, facts, and opinions produced by the other hats and uses that information to generate an ideal solution to the problem and structure a practical plan of action. It all sounds very good in theory, but we wonder how well people can actually take on a different persona.

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