Six Perspectives, One Decision

What’s the best way to tackle a challenging situation or issue at work? Think your way is the best way? Perhaps you should think again…

Six perspectives, one decision is based on Edward de Bono’s problem-solving technique and book, 6 Thinking Hats. This technique focuses on training your brain to understand how one issue could be understood and seen by six different types of thinkers.

By using and understanding this method of thinking and problem solving managers, employees, and co-workers alike can learn to develop their own personal problem-solving skills when tackling a challenge alone or with a team.

De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats

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White Hat

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The White Hat is the data Hat. What you want to do is look at all the information, ask yourself “what can I learn from this?”. Lay it all out (write it down if you have to!), refer to any past knowledge/experiences you have that are similar and look for potential gaps or holes in the information available.

Red Hat

Red is not alarming in this case. The Red Hat asks you to trust your gut – what is your intuition telling you? What was your first reaction, emotionally and mentally? Once you’ve recognized your own personal stance think about anyone who wouldn’t understand your reaction and ask yourself, why?.

This approach allows you to step outside your normal thinking bubble and see yourself from an external perspective- an important skill for efficiently solving problems.

Black Hat

The Black Hat is the negative Hat. We know negativity is not seen as a positive thing but in this regard it allows you to step back and ask, “How would this affect me in a negative way?” and “What problems could this create for my team and our work environment?”.

Answering these questions lets you spot the weak points and eliminate them or create a plan to counter them.

Yellow Hat

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The Yellow Hat sees a problem or challenge from a positive perspective. What are the benefits and value that you could take away from this issue? Is there a valuable lesson that can be learned? Has addressing the challenge opened up new opportunities, etc.?

Yellow Hat also relates to being a positive team player. While this includes having a cheerful attitude, it’s also closely tied with confidence and group motivation.

Green Hat

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The Green Hat is the creative hat. Let every idea you have come out on the whiteboard – creativity is not to be criticized, it should always be welcomed. Think of anything, even if it seems impossible because that zany idea might contain elements of a solution.

Blue Hat

Blue Hat thinking is associated with process control and management of tasks. Blue Hat involves looking at a problem and possible solution from the perspective of the CEO or Chair of the Board.

When wearing this Hat ask, “who’s best for what job?”. It’s the concept of managing your team, assigning the right people for the right positions.

i.e. Blue Hat may ask the White Hat to review the information at hand, ask Black and Yellow Hats their opinion and then sit with Green Hat to brainstorm solutions.

There’s Never Just One Way

The point here, is there is never just one way to view a situation or solve a problem.

different perspectives to solving a problem

Every good leader knows that when it comes to making the best decision possible you must consider how it will affect everyone involved. The next time you need to find a solution to a challenge, try using this technique of looking at it six different ways. Make it a skill and see how your thought process changes professionally and personally over time.

Also, try looking at it from the perspectives of different roles within and outside your organization (i.e. a lawyer, an accountant, an intern or a customer). And remember, there is no one way to tackle a problem.

For more information on Edward de Bono’s problem-solving technique, check out his book, 6 Thinking Hats. For other ideas on developing your team’s problem-solving skills, read our post on the team-building exercise, The Great Egg Drop.

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