Sunday, February 20, 2011

6 hats thinking technique

Any problem solving thinking is a complex process and envolves  emotion, logic, information, hope, and creativity in achieving to a complete solution . In a normal thinking process we deal all these attributes at a time and we swing unknowingly between these attribues resulting unefficeint way of thinking.  All these attributes dealing together makes thinking complex, and we know that complexity is the biggest enemy to the decision as complexity leads to confusion.
When thinking is simple and clear it becomes more enjoyable and effective, so first purpose is to simplify thinking by allowing a thinker to deal with one attribute of thinking at a time instead of taking emotion logic information hope and creativity all at same time. This is more true with board meetings or where number of persons are involved in decision making. there is nothing more sad and waste full than a roomful of intelligent and highly paid people waiting to a chance to attack something  speaker has said.
Argument way of thinking is what we all adopt in day to day of problem solving technique. it is the same process by which judge in court room listen to the arguments of lawyer and take decision on a case. we all know that lawyer never tells the whole truth. they will put only those facts and arguements which support his point of view. resulting into inefficient, ineffective and extremely slow decision making. many times far away from truth and right decision.  2400 years we have been content with argument type style which were best suited to estabilish and verfiying and matching the already exisiting patterns.
From past experience we forms definition, principle, categories, pattern. When we come across anything problematic if it matches with already exisiting pattern in our memory we act as per the standard reaction set in our subconcious mind or as per already set procedure available to us for such given situation.
we judge, we argue to find out which of the principle, categories, pattern it covers. we try to find answer what it is, based on our past experience and go ahead with the solution. e.g a doctor receives a child with a rash. Doctor immedialtely think of possible boxes is it sun burn or a food allergy is it measles..then doctor examine sign and symptom and make the judgment if the doctor find the measles condition then the treatment of measles start. That’s the traditional thinking as the best. From the past we creat templates of standard situation we judge into which standard situation a new problem falls, once judgement made then course of action is clear.
Such system work well in stable worlds. As standard situation of past will apply. Now in fast changing world, the standard situation of the past may not apply.

what is it, is not enough we have to shift from what it is to what can be. Instead judging an way forward we need to design an way forward. We need to think what can be..not just what it is. What it is style  resist new ideas, new solutions, new design. Discovering what is may not be the same as desgining what can be.
To overcome this problem Edward de Bono developed six hats style of thinking. It uses fullest potential of intelligence experience and information and remove ego from discussion. Six hat is based on an understanding of how brain chemical changes the mode of thinking.
"Six Thinking Hats" is a powerful technique that helps you look at important decisions from a number of different perspectives. It helps you make better decisions by pushing you to move outside your habitual ways of thinking. As such, it helps you understand the full complexity of a decision, and spot issues and opportunities which you might otherwise not notice.
The main difficult in the thinlking is confusion, confusion arises more when we try  emotion, information, logic, hope and creativity at the same time. its like juggling with too many balls at a time.
What I am putting in this article is the concept which allows thinker to deal one attribute at a time. He should be able to seprate emotion from logic, creativity from information and hope from fear.
Many successful people think from a very rational, positive viewpoint, and this is part of the reason that they are successful. Often, though, they may fail to look at problems from emotional, intuitive, creative or negative viewpoints. This can mean that they underestimate resistance to change, don't make creative leaps, and fail to make essential contingency plans.
Similarly, pessimists may be excessively defensive, and people used to a very logical approach to problem solving may fail to engage their creativity or listen to their intuition.
If you look at a problem using the Six Thinking Hats technique, then you'll use all of these approaches to develop your best solution. Your decisions and plans will mix ambition, skill in execution, sensitivity, creativity and good contingency planning.
This tool was created by Edward de Bono in his book "6 Thinking Hats".

How to Use the Tool:
To use Six Thinking Hats to improve the quality of your decision-making, look at the decision "wearing" each of the thinking hats in turn.
Each "Thinking Hat" is a different style of thinking. These are explained below:

White Hat:
With this thinking hat, you focus on the data available. Look at the information you have, and see what you can learn from it. Look for gaps in your knowledge, and either try to fill them or take account of them. This is where you analyze past trends, and try to extrapolate from historical data.
Red Hat:
Wearing the red hat, you look at the decision using intuition, gut reaction, and emotion. Also try to think how other people will react emotionally, and try to understand the intuitive responses of people who do not fully know your reasoning.
Black Hat:
When using black hat thinking, look at things pessimistically, cautiously and defensively. Try to see why ideas and approaches might not work. This is important because it highlights the weak points in a plan or course of action. It allows you to eliminate them, alter your approach, or prepare contingency plans to counter problems that arise.
Black Hat thinking helps to make your plans tougher and more resilient. It can also help you to spot fatal flaws and risks before you embark on a course of action. Black Hat thinking is one of the real benefits of this technique, as many successful people get so used to thinking positively that often they cannot see problems in advance, leaving them under-prepared for difficulties.
Yellow Hat:
The yellow hat helps you to think positively. It is the optimistic viewpoint that helps you to see all the benefits of the decision and the value in it, and spot the opportunities that arise from it. Yellow Hat thinking helps you to keep going when everything looks gloomy and difficult.
Green Hat:
The Green Hat stands for creativity. This is where you can 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.
Blue Hat:
The Blue Hat stands for process control. This is the hat worn by people chairing meetings. When running into difficulties because ideas are running dry, they may direct activity into Green Hat thinking. When contingency plans are needed, they will ask for Black Hat thinking, and so on.

You can use Six Thinking Hats in meetings or on your own. In meetings it has the benefit of defusing the disagreements that can happen when people with different thinking styles discuss the same problem.

A similar approach is to look at problems from the point of view of different professionals (e.g. doctors, architects, sales directors) or different customers.
The directors of a property company are looking at whether they should construct a new office building. The economy is doing well, and the amount of vacant office space is reducing sharply. As part of their decision they decide to use the 6 Thinking Hats technique during a planning meeting.
Looking at the problem with the White Hat, they analyze the data they have. They examine the trend in vacant office space, which shows a sharp reduction. They anticipate that by the time the office block would be completed, that there will be a severe shortage of office space. Current government projections show steady economic growth for at least the construction period.
With Red Hat thinking, some of the directors think the proposed building looks quite ugly. While it would be highly cost-effective, they worry that people would not like to work in it.
When they think with the Black Hat, they worry that government projections may be wrong. The economy may be about to enter a 'cyclical downturn', in which case the office building may be empty for a long time.
If the building is not attractive, then companies will choose to work in another better-looking building at the same rent.
With the Yellow Hat, however, if the economy holds up and their projections are correct, the company stands to make a great deal of money.
If they are lucky, maybe they could sell the building before the next downturn, or rent to tenants on long-term leases that will last through any recession.
With Green Hat thinking they consider whether they should change the design to make the building more pleasant. Perhaps they could build prestige offices that people would want to rent in any economic climate. Alternatively, maybe they should invest the money in the short term to buy up property at a low cost when a recession comes.
The Blue Hat has been used by the meeting's Chair to move between the different thinking styles. He or she may have needed to keep other members of the team from switching styles, or from criticizing other peoples' points.
Key points:
Six Thinking Hats is a good technique for looking at the effects of a decision from a number of different points of view.
It allows necessary emotion and skepticism to be brought into what would otherwise be purely rational decisions. It opens up the opportunity for creativity within Decision Making. It also helps, for example, persistently pessimistic people to be positive and creative.

Plans developed using the '6 Thinking Hats' technique are sounder and more resilient than would otherwise be the case. This technique may also help you to avoid public relations mistakes, and spot good reasons not to follow a course of action, before you have committed to it.

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