Here is a brief look at

Edward De Bono’s “SIX HAT Thinking”

Dr Edward de Bono invented the Six Thinking Hats method early in the 1980’s.

It is used in both schooling and at a management level in business.

As a teaching tool it is used as a teaching method framework for thinking, and can incorporate lateral thinking. It is used mainly used in the classroom by teachers at a metaphorical level.

Some teachers may have illustrations of the Six Hats on display and use them according to the desired outcome of any given lesson.

An example of this may be when students are asked to design a machine – with the teacher emphasising the need for perhaps Green Hat thinking first, followed by any of the other thinking hats as necessary.

There are six of these “metaphorical” hats and the students put on and take off one of these hats to indicate the type of thinking being used.

This putting on and taking off is essential.

The hats must never be used to categorise individuals, even though their behaviour may seem to invite this. When done in group, everybody wears the same hat colour at the same time.

Listed below is a very brief summary of the Six Hat concepts:
De Bono's Six Hats
The Red Hat

The spectrum of feelings included under the Red hat range from emotions to intuitions.
No need to justify the feelings. How do I feel about this right now?

Emotions – normal emotions such as joy, anger, fear and sorrow. Under these powerful emotions, our perceptions only select what supports the emotion. ie. an angry person will see reasons for anger.

Feelings – covers a wider range than emotions. Includes feelings of unease, anxiety, interest, and uncertainty. Aesthetics is a feeling. Feelings covers matters like admiration and respect.

Hunches – lie somewhere between intuition and feelings. It takes the form of strong feeling or decision in favour of or against something. Intuitions – intuition is both right and wrong. Some claim that intuition is indeed logical but that we are not consciously aware of this process.

The value of the Red Hat is that it recognises emotions, feelings, hunches and intuitions as a valid part of thinking, provided they are signalled as what they are.

De Bono's Six Hats
The White Hat

What information do we have?
What are the facts?
What information do we need to get?

Wearing the white hat the students can visualise being explorers and making a map. A good place to start when wearing the white hat is to make note of all the information, formal and informal, that is readily available.

What information do we have? The answer will provide an inventory.

Formal information may include reports, statistics and facts.

Informal information tends to come from personal experience.

Describing our own feelings is Red Hat thinking, but reporting how others feel is White Hat thinking. White Hat thinking incorporates questions such as,

What is relevant?

What is most important?

How valid is this?

De Bono's Six Hats
The Black Hat


Bad points.

What is wrong with this? Is this true? Will it work?

What are the weaknesses? What is wrong with it?

The words checking and checking out are important in explaining the uses of the Black Hat. It is critical thinking.

The main uses of the Black Hat are:

Checking for evidence – what is the evidence
to support the statement?

Checking for logic – the validity of the logical argument.

Checking for feasibility – is it realistic, will it work?

Checking for impact – the consequences, who does it affect?

Checking for fit – in simple terms: do things fit?

Checking for weaknesses – is this supportive?

De Bono's Six Hats
The Yellow Hat

Assessing value.
Extracting benefits.
Making something work.

The uses of the Yellow Hat fall into four areas:

1. Good points.

2. Benefits.

3. Reasons why an idea will work.

4. Likelihood.

Things to look for when wearing the Yellow Hat are:

What are the good points?

What are the benefits?

De Bono's Six Hats
The Blue Hat

Organisation of thinking.
Thinking about thinking.
What have we done so far? What do we do next?

Defining focus and purpose – What are we thinking about? What are we trying to do?

Setting out a thinking plan or agenda – setting the thinking steps, a strategy.

Making observations or comments – metacognition – thinking about our thinking, commenting on our thought processes.

Deciding on the next step – this step may involve moving to another hat. It is stopping thinking and taking a break.

Defining outcomes and summarising – What decision have we reached? The overall outcome, solution, conclusion, choice or decision, design, or further plan.

De Bono's Six Hats
The Green Hat

Creativity. Different ideas. New ideas. Suggestions and proposals. What are some possible ways to work this out? Whata re some other ways to solve the problem?

Generating reactive ideas – use the given idea as a starting point for thinking and exploring creatively.

Generating starting ideas – The White Hat collects information – the Green Hat is used to lay out some starting ideas.

Generating better and further ideas – look for alternatives, enhance existing ideas.

Generating new ideas – create new ideas completely – use originality.

Green Hat thinking can help when we need to take an action, provide an explanation, forecast an outcome or design something new to fit a need. Forming hypotheses, speculating, and thinking laterally, are three Green Hat thinking tools.