Having attended a school that prides itself on Individual, Global, and Exceptional Critical Thinkers (holla atcha, Smith College!), I was pretty sure I knew it all when it came to thinking about thinking. But once again, Atalasoft has managed to add another lesson to my mental book of knowledge.
Earlier in the week I was asked to help organize a special meeting for our Engineering/Development department. The discussion was to be about development obstacles that were met in Fiscal Year 2012, and it was to be conducted using the Six Thinking Hats method.
The scholar in me ravenous for information, I immediately began researching the technique. What I found was like nothing I had encountered before.
Six Thinking Hats was developed by Edward de Bono in 1985 as a tool for helping groups to think more collaboratively and effectively about a problem. The group is encouraged to put on six different “thinking hats”, each having its own color, in order to address the problem from multiple angles. The idea is to get people out of their usual thinking patterns (no more Positive Pollys and Negative Nancys!) and to create a more defined segregation of thinking directions.
So what are these “hats” I speak of?
THE BLUE HAT
The blue hat is the facilitator. Its role is to set the agenda for the discussion, as well as to focus and refocus the group. It tells the group when to switch hats, and informs as to any next steps or important decisions.
THE WHITE HAT
The white hat is all about the facts. It wants to know what information is readily available about the problem at hand, and any proof to back it up. It also looks for what information is missing, and what the group would like to know and needs to know.
THE GREEN HAT
The green hat is creative and innovative. It proposes solutions and means of overcoming difficult situations. It is also always looking for alternative methods of getting things done.
THE YELLOW HAT
The yellow hat is primarily optimistic and positive. It asks “What are the benefits of solving this problem?” It seeks to identify the attractive qualities of the ideas being discussed, and hopes to encompass the group’s values.
THE BLACK HAT
The black hat is the conservative one of the bunch. It wants to point out the potential problems with the proposed solutions, and elaborate on areas of caution and risk. It is mostly logical, but at times just plain negative.
THE RED HAT
The red hat needs no justification. It is purely emotional. It explores the group’s current feelings and gut reactions, and relies only on intuition.
I’m not gonna lie. When I started reading about this method, my first thought was: “What the heck is this loony new-age crap?!” But the more I read, the more it all started to make sense. And I began to believe Hey – this de Bono guy might actually be onto something!
As the official whiteboard note-taker of today’s meeting, I can say this with conviction: BOY is my arm tired! Engineering brainstormed like nobody’s business, and for TWO STRAIGHT HOURS! Not only did the team identify a number of creative solutions to the FY12 problems, but they also developed a pretty comprehensive and realistic game plan for the upcoming year.
My favorite part of the meeting today, though: EVERYONE participated. Even the n00bz. Not a single person was silenced by another who was dominating the conversation. This was seriously the most productive, effective, and inclusive discussion I have ever witnessed.
And we got donuts!