How can hats make decision making more productive?

Alan Dinnie
Alan Dinnie
How can hats make decision making more productive?

Businesses owners and employees are faced with the need to make decisions on a regular basis. The outcome of these decisions can range from a minor change or direction to one that drastically affects the direction of a business.

The problem with decision making is that the process is often hampered by personal agendas, personal bias, being too close to the action and not being able to step back to see the forest from the trees.

There is a decision-making tool called the “Six Thinking Hats”, developed by Edward de Bono that addresses these issues and enables decisions to be looked at from a number of different perspectives.

It forces you to move away from your normal way of thinking allowing better decisions to be made. By doing this it allows you to consider issues and opportunities that you might otherwise have overlooked.

People can be many things; rational, emotional, pessimistic, optimistic, sensitive, negative etc. By using the Six Thinking Hats technique all these approaches can be used to develop the best solution. This approach helps to overcome any personal bias and balances what would normally be a purely rational decision, with creativity and emotion.

How to use the Tool

Each Thinking Hat is an avenue to a different style of thinking. Use the different approaches to analyse decisions from different perspectives.

White Hat

This is where you focus on the data available and aim to extrapolate information from past information.

Red Hat

Use this hat to look at the decision based on intuition and gut feeling.

Black Hat

Be pessimistic and cautious and look for ways in which the idea may not work. Be the devil’s advocate in highlighting weak points.

Yellow Hat

Be positive and optimistic. Look for all the benefits and the opportunities of the decision.

Green Hat

This is the creative hat, where creative solutions are developed in response to a problem without fear of criticism.

Blue Hat

This refers to controlling the process and is generally worn by the person chairing the meeting. If ideas begin to dry up, activity can be directed to Green Hat thinking, or if contingency plans are required this will require Black Hat thinking.

An additional way of approaching this exercise is to look at the decision from the point of view of different customers.

The advantage of Six Thinking Hats is that it has the benefit of diffusing any opposing points of view and disagreements as a result of people having different natural thinking styles.

By forcing people to go against their natural instincts, decisions are analysed in a balanced and holistic way, with the overall result being decisions that are sounder and more resilient.

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