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Edward De Bono’s six thinking hats: multi-perspective analysis

Prof. Hossein Arsham’s website gives a useful summary of the oft-cited chapeaux, from De Bono Edward, Six Thinking Hats: An Essential Approach to Business Management, Little Brown & Co, 1985. The hats are a useful metaphor to push us to weight decisions from various perspectives. The conceit also helps unravel the confrontations that happen when people with different thinking styles discuss the same problem.
With minor edits by me, Arsham explains the hats as follows:
1. White Hat: Focus on the data available and learn from it. Look for gaps in your knowledge, and try to fill them or take account of them.
2. Red Hat: Look at problems using reaction and emotion. Try to think how other people will react emotionally. Try to understand the responses of people who do not fully know your reasoning.
3. Black Hat: Ponder the bad points of the decision by looking at it cautiously and defensively. Try to see why it might not work. This encourages you to eliminate risks or weaknesses, alter them, or prepare contingency plans to counter them.
4. Yellow Hat: The optimistic viewpoint, it helps you consider the benefits of the decision and the value in it.
5. Green Hat: Develop creative solutions to a problem. It is a freewheeling way of thinking, in which there is little criticism of ideas. A whole range of creativity tools can help you here.
6. Blue Hat: ‘Blue Hat Thinking’ stands for process control. This is the hat worn by people chairing meetings and who need to push.

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