What hat are you wearing when you think? Years ago when I was studying what makes an effective team I came across a book, The Six Thinking Hats by Edward DeBono. One of the premises was that for effective teamwork that it was important to have different perspectives. And, as a team leader it is important to have a variety of prisms in thought in order to be able to move forward on a project or task with greater confidence.
First, it is important to understand that each team member has preferred ways of thinking. As a leader, you may be able to discern what is the best hat for someone to wear.
1. White Hat Thinking-With this thinking you focus on the data available. You analyze from past trends and extrapolate from historical data.
2. Red Hat Thinking- You look at problems using your intuition, not reaction and emotion. Your goal is to understand others’ response intuitively, even if they don’t know your reasoning.
3. Black Hat Thinking- You look for all the bad points in a decision. You look at things cautiously and defensively. You observe why they may not work. Your goal is to highlight the weak points of a plan. With good Black Hat Thinking flaws can be found and corrected that will make the plan stronger.
4. Yellow Hat Thinking- This is about thinking positively. It is the optimistic viewpoint that helps you see all the benefits of the decision and the value in it.
5. Green Hat Thinking- The Green Hat stands for creativity. You develop creative solutions to problems. It is a freewheeling way of thinking where the team is not there to criticize them so much as to encourage as many ideas as possible to come forward to make for a better project or plan.
6. Blue Hat Thinking- The Blue Hat is about process control. This hat is usually worn by the people chairing the meetings. When things may seem stalled, they can direct a team member or members into Green Hat Thinking. Or, if contingencies are needed, they can direct people into Black Hat Thinking.
In my personal experience as a business owner and as a business coach in the Woodlands, I have found the Six Thinking Hats to be valuable. When team members understand their roles, which hat or hats to wear, they become more enthused and focused. Also, it permits thinking and ideas to be expressed that might otherwise remain hidden for fear of upsetting other team members.