Thursday, 12 November 2009

New Take on 6 Thinking Hats

There is continuing interest in Edward de Bono’s famous technique for structuring responses and reactions to ideas. In meetings or workshops it is often employed to evaluate an idea or proposal from different viewpoints. Typically the meeting will be divided into sessions, each with a unique focus. De Bono’s 6 different coloured hats provide the focus for each session, each coloured hat symbolising a specific perspective.

In summary these are:

White hat: neutral; fact or information driven; trends; no opinions; gaps in knowledge

Red hat: intuition or gut reactions; feelings; emotional responses

Black hat: defensive thinking; risks; constraints; impact for other initiatives

Yellow hat: positive thinking; opportunities; benefits

Green hat: creativity; new ways of seeing things; new associations; insights

Blue hat: process control – worn by the meeting chair; summaries; actions; decisions.

Mind maps and mind mapping software are useful tools to record the output from such meetings – session by session, hat by hat. The 6 Thinking Hats become the first level topics and all the ideas are added as sub-topics, as in the example here.

An alternative approach is to capture the ideas as they emerge, in any order, initially without reference to the 6 Thinking Hats. The ideas can be recorded in MindManager as floating topics and analysed subsequently. This can be done be assigning a map marker icon to each topic using icons representing the 6 Thinking Hats. The map may then be restructured manually to group all the ideas with their assigned Thinking Hat.

Brainstormed list If you use MindManager together with PowerMarkers you can use the icons and the Hot List to structure the ideas into a new map.


Hats applied


First assign a hat icon to each idea – one hat per idea (tip: if an idea could sit under more than one hat duplicate the idea).


Hot list open


Review the assignments in the PowerMarkers Hot List window.



Copy hot list from clipboard


Copy the hot list to the clipboard, open a new map and “Paste”.



Reapply icons to 1st level topics


Quickly add a hat icon to the main topics.



Monday, 9 November 2009

Workshop Techniques – How to “Train” the Attendees

If your facilitated workshop includes sessions where the attendees work in small groups it helps if you can give them early confidence in the technique you want them to use. Wherever possible meet the attendees before the day of the workshop and explain and demonstrate the techniques. It is even better if you can get them to practice also.

3 Step Process However you will often only be able to explain the techniques on the day itself. Use the first session of the day to explain the technique and allow the attendees to practice it. It is important that this first session does contribute to the overall workshop objectives. However keep it simple and readily achievable – the main purpose of the first session is for the attendees to produce something useful whilst learning the techniques they will use throughout the day…….. and it goes without saying, if you can provide a simple visual to reinforce the key steps of the technique.

The example here is for a simple Post-It brainstorm. Group members spend a short period working individually and writing down their ideas on Post-Its. These are then stuck to a flip chart and the group work together to discuss the ideas and group them into themes. Finally the themes are recorded as a list of key ideas on a separate flip chart.