6 Hüte Methode - 6 Thinking Hats
This creative technique is another favorite of Benno van Aerssen. Developed by Edward de Bono in 1986, this method is also known as "the thinking hats of De Bono".
With proper training, the six hats method can be used either spontaneously or through a structured, documented process. Both ways will generate ideas in innovation management.
This technique is a type of group discussion, or could even be considered a form of role-play. This can be a very fun and effective method, especially with the right people who share a ‘can-do’ attitude.
The participants take on various roles, which are symbolized through different coloured caps.
Each cap represents a particular way of thinking. With every participant focusing on different approaches to the task, a wide range of ideas and discussions will be sparked. As a result, this method ensures no angle is over-looked, exploring every possible solution.
6 Hat Method - Applicability
This method is particularly suitable for processing complex tasks. Ideas from different perspectives are evaluated to find optimal solutions and ideas.
6 Hat Method – How it works
Every participant will be provided with a hat (or a coloured band, card e.t.c) the colour of which corresponds to the role or particular angle of thought in which that participant now has to think in. It is important before the exercise to re-affirm which characteristics of thought are associated with each colour and through out the discussion to remain in "colour character".
The moderator plays an extremely important role, not only explaining the technique but also coordinating the entire roleplay. The moderator is also in the ideal position to introduce each "colour character".
The exercise begins with each participant taking it in turns to place their hat on his or her head and then explaining what they have to say about the task, from the perspective of their “colour character”. Everyone has their statements recorded and collected, preferably written clearly on a bullet tin board.
Although throughout the process it can also be beneficial to cover up some of ideas and statements, depending on how much influence these ideas might have on the general progress of the task.
Here are the following roles and characters associated with each hat:
The White Hat
- Analytical thinking
- Concentrating on facts
- Objective attitude
The white cap gathers information, without evaluating or assess it. Whoever wears the white cap is very similar to a computer: only the bare facts and figures count. The wearer must try to rid themselves of all prejudices and emotions. With an objective overview of the whole situation and with all the available data and information to hand, the white cap is completely independent from any personal opinions. Therefore white cap is generally the first to be introduced at the beginning of the exercise, in order to obtain a neutral overview of the task.
The Red Hat
- Emotional thinking
- Focuses on feelings and emotions
- Subjective attitude
Quite in contrast to the white cap, the red hat is now open to all emotions, both positive and negative such as fear, joy, doubt, hope, frustration etc. The red cap also possesses an intuitive approach when it comes to making decisions. The red hat wearer must always maintain a 'heart over mind' attitude. Hence the red cap is also allowed, if not encouraged, to express everything they are currently feeling, regardless of how well they can place their feelings into words or whether or not the rest of the group can utilize these expressions. Everything emotion-related can be spoken out loud by the red hat without ever needing to justify their feelings or opinions.
The Black Hat
- Critical thinking
- Observes risks, problems, skepticism, criticism and fears
- Objective attitude
When it comes to the black hat, the focus is all on finding the negatives aspects of the task. These might include concerns, doubts, risks etc. Whosoever wears the black hat aims to objectively figure out every negative thinkable related to the task, for example: “Aspects not in support are…” or “Identifiable risks include…”
Note: it is very important that the wearer remains utterly objective, leaving all personal negative issues with the task to one side. Any emotion is reserved solely for the red hat.
The Yellow Hat
- Optimistic thinker
- Envisages Best-Case Scenario
- Speculative attitude
The yellow cap is the opposite of the black hat: the focus here is now to discover positivity. Whoever wears the yellow cap must aim to find all the opportunities or advantages and also formulate realistic goals and expectations to make these achievable. Similarly to the black hat, it is important to remain objective and identify these advantages with as little emotional input as possible. Neither is this yellow cap responsible for developing ideas, (that is the task of the green cap) all this wearer has to be concerned with is recognizing all the positive aspects.
The Green Hat
- Creative, associated thinking
- New ideas
- Constructive attitude
This hat represents creativity and growth for new ideas. Whoever wears this hat is on the search for all possible alternatives, as well as having a forward thinking approach on things to be considered and steps to be taken in order to achieve the task. The green hat will often formulate different concepts that lead to new, innovative ways to approach ideas (regardless of how crazy or unrealistic those ideas might seem) no idea is too big for the green hat.
Note: Critical remarks are not allowed to be heard from the green hat, these are reserved for the black cap only.
The Blue Hat
- Administrative, moderated thinking
- Oversees the processes
- Keeps in mind the bigger picture
The blue hat represents control and the organization of the collective thought-processes. Whoever wears the blue hat places themselves on a so-called 'meta-level' meaning they speak from a perspective similar to that of a guardian or parent, maintaining an overview of the whole situation. The tasks of the wearer include summarizing results and making decisions, such as which caps take precedence and which do not. The blue hat is introduced last of all the hats, in order to put some perspective on the exercise as a whole, in many ways the blue hat reaches the conclusions of the exercise.