Problem Solving and Decision-Making with Six Thinking Hats


Problem-solving is naturally part of our everyday’s Life. No matter where you are, and what you do, sooner or later you will encounter an issue. From trivial issues like hunger, fixing make-ups, or perhaps you feel that the weather is a bit hot, up to the more complex and critical issues – like car problem, resolving a system down situation, or need to take decision related to multi-millions budget. This article is intended to address business or technical-related issues.

Logically, the next question is, how do we resolve the issues, or taking the correct decision, in the most effective and efficient way, with time-constraint?

We are going to talk about Six Thinking Hats. It’s a “simple” methodology which will ask you to look at decisions from multiple perspectives. Six Thinking Hats will force you to move outside your habitual thinking style, and helps you to get a more rounded view of a situation.

Bottom line? Think in parallel! There are 6 different point of view, which is conveniently described as “wearing Six different Hat” as follow :

1. White Hat 

  • White Hat is about data and information
  • Used to record information that is currently available and to identify further information that may be needed
  • Questions to be asked:
    • What information is available
    • What information do we need
    • How are we going to get the missing information
  • Stay focused on Facts and Data only

2. Red Hat 

  • Red Hat is associated with feelings, intuition and emotion
  • Allows people to put forward feelings without justification or prejudice
  • Questions to ask:
    • What are my feelings right now
    • What does my intuition tell me
    • What is my gut reaction
  • Instinct-based, avoid logic

3. Black Hat 

  • Black Hat relates to caution
  • Used for critical judgment, sometimes black hat is overused
  • Questions to ask:
    • What are some possible problems
    • What difficulties could we encounter
    • What are points for caution
    • What are the risks
    • Why it won’t work
  • Suitable for Contingency Plan, Damage Control

4. Yellow Hat 

  • Yellow Hat is for a positive, optimistic view of things
  • Looks for the benefits in a situation
  • Encourage positive view even in people who are critical
  • Questions to be asked:
    • What are the benefits
    • What are the positives
    • What are the values
    • Can this be made to work
  • Optimistic view
  • Helps keep going when things are looking bleak
  • Logical, positive approach

5. Green Hat 

  • Green Hat is for creative thinking and generating new ideas
  • Questions to ask:
    • What creative ideas do we have (to approach the issue)
    • What are the alternatives
    • How can we overcome the black hat difficulties
  • Innovation, Brainstorming

6. Blue Hat

  • Blue Hat is about process control
  • Ask for summaries, conclusions and decisions
  • Questions to be asked:
    • Where should we start
    • What is the agenda
    • What are the objectives
    • Which hats should we use
    • How can we summarize
    • What should we do next
  • Control, thinking process
  • Overall framework

In a team meeting, you need to ask everyone to wear the same hat at the same time for a period of time. Everybody to contribute. Do not label anybody with certain hat characteristic.

Benefits and advantage of using this methodology:

  1. Allows us to say things without RISK – all kind of thoughts will always correlate to one of the “Hat”
  2. Prevent silence in the group
  3. Simple to use, basically temporary thinking focus
  4. Covering end to end, all aspects of problem

Real-life Implementation in a 30 minute meeting:

  • First 2 minutes – Blue Hat – define purpose of meeting and expected outcome
  • Then 10 minutes – White Hat – present the facts, discuss information
  • 3 min – Green Hat – to generate new ideas
  • 5-10 sec – Red Hat – intuition, gut feelings, we do not want to let logic taking over in this short phase
  • 3 min – Yellow Hat  – pros
  • 3 min – Black Hat – cons
  • 5-10 sec – Red Hat  – what decision need to be taken? Which option?
  • Green Hat to address risks
  • Ending – Blue Hat – summary

Well, that’s simple isn’t it? Probably not quite so – and it will take some willingness, passion and interest to follow the method – until it becomes a habit. Hope you find this article enjoyable and useful! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s