When faced with a problem, it can be beneficial to consider a number of different perspectives on that problem.
Different perspectives can often reveal different factors and features and can potentially reveal a variety of innovative solutions.
Using a structured approach to selecting these different perspectives is a sign of disciplined and logical thinking and an approach typified in Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats.
The approach is extremely simple but can be very effective in problem solving.
Each thinker metaphorically adopts a ‘thinking hat’ and then constrains their thinking to just that perspective. Swapping hats allows you to focus on alternative viewpoints until options are exhausted.
Edward De Bono recommends these 6 different ‘hats’ to guide you into thinking from these 6 different perspectives.
Blue Hat: Wear this hat to define the problem and scope of the issue.
White Hat: Wear this hat and focus on the facts of the situation. Look at the features, factors, functions, gaps in process and knowledge. Look for trends, patterns and developments.
Red Hat: Wear this hat to explore the emotions surrounding the problem. Note what you feel instinctively, what your gut tells you.
Yellow Hat: Wear this hat to explore the positive aspects of the issue. What about this is constructive and what can you benefit or learn from? Look for value and benefit.
Green Hat: Wear this hat to develop creative and innovation options. Imaginative solutions that break the mental mould are developed with this hat.
Black Hat: Look for things that are broken or won’t work. What is weak about the issue or solution?
Although this approach can be used by an individual, it has equal if not more effect when it is used by a group. The blue hat would direct the group, and different members of the team would wear ‘hats’ that explored the various perspectives.
The results from this approach should be interesting and useful and may even be quite dramatic. At the very least you and your team will begin to break out of your normal thinking habits.
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