Better Brainstorming: the Six Thinking Hats Method

Boost Your Brainstorming with the Six Thinking Hats Method

Boost Your Brainstorming with the Six Thinking Hats Method

Six Thinking Hats is a thinking methodology based on the premise that the human brain thinks and processes information in six distinct ways: via questions, emotions, bad and good points judgment, creativity, and thinking (or more accurately, meta-thinking). Huh-wha?

Wikipedia describes the six metaphorical hats (and their corresponding colors) thusly:

  • Questions (White) - considering purely what information is available, what are the facts?
  • Emotions (Red) - instinctive gut reaction or statements of emotional feeling (but not any justification)
  • Bad points judgment (Black) - logic applied to identifying flaws or barriers, seeking mismatch
  • Good points judgment (Yellow) - logic applied to identifying benefits, seeking harmony
  • Creativity (Green) - statements of provocation and investigation, seeing where a thought goes
  • Thinking (Blue) - thinking about thinking

In the grand scheme of Six Thinking Hats, the idea is that you’ll use these six methods—or rather, put on these six different hats—to structure the way you’re thinking about a problem or task.

Coloured hats are used as metaphors for each state. Switching to a state is symbolized by the act of putting on a coloured hat, either literally or metaphorically. These metaphors allow for more complete and elaborate segregation of the states than the preconceptions inherent in people’s current language. All of these thinking hats help [achieve] deeper [thinking]. The six thinking hats indicate problems and solutions about an idea you might come up with.

At the end of the day, the six hats probably won’t revolutionize the way you think and get things done. But like most tools of its kind, it does offer an interesting perspective for thinking about how we think, and how we tackle problems. You may not feel like restricting your thoughts specifically to any one hat under normal circumstances, but if you hit a roadblock in your thinking, considering the six hats seems like a useful exercise that could help dislodge your stuck brain.

Know more about Six Thinking Hats—or think it sounds like a bunch of Seven Habits malarkey? Tell us about it in the comments. Photos by St Boniface’s Catholic College.

post by Adam Pash

Thoughtful planning is essential to success. Plan smarter by exercising your brainstorming muscles.