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The Concept of Six Thinking Hats

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If you do not know the concept of the six thinking hats, I invite you to continue reading. It is a very useful tool for middle management that Edward de Bono developed almost 30 years ago, and that is applied in decision making and problem-solving.

With this model, Edward de Bono came to put the instruction in the way of exposing the arguments in the meetings. Sometimes these turn out to be a hodgepodge of ideas where each person defends his point of view while attacking the opinions of others. When we look at this information through the tool and the formula of the six thinking hats, communication improves noticeably, and arguments diminish.

There are six hats (metaphorical). Each one with a different way of thinking and role. Each hat has a colour (white, red, yellow, black, green and blue) and as you put on or change your hat, you have to play a role adopting the role and style that defines that hat in particular. Let's see what each one is like.


The objective information. The impartiality of facts and figures.

It represents the purity of the data, the truth in the information. The first thing to ask when we put on the white hat is if we have all the information to make a decision or if on the contrary, we need more, which does not appear and we would like to have, which is relevant, etc.

It is an objective and impartial role that does not think or weigh the pros and cons. It is only interested in knowing the facts as they are.


The generation of ideas, creativity.

Role associated with creative thinking and new ideas and it does not matter that these may seem a little crazy or reckless, because this hat of thinking does not judge, it simply explores and lets the imagination fly.


The negative reasoning.

The black thinking hat shows the difficulties to the rest, and the risks and the dangers of the proposals that were made with the green hat. It alerts of what can go wrong and points out the new complications that could arise. When you put it on, you have to make an effort of negativity (from the logic) and say what you do not always like to hear.


The positive and constructive.

The yellow thinking hat highlights the positive aspects, the advantages, the benefits and the viability of the project that is being valued. It is optimistic, but it is an optimism that does not remain in the simple positive impetus but provokes proposals and plans of action.

  1. RED HAT.

The emotions, the feeling.

It is a hat that is little used because its speech is not based on logic or facts, but on the feelings that one has. It is instinct, intuition. You do not have to justify anything, just express emotions, hunches. It is an interesting tool for the leader who wants to know the feelings of the group regarding a decision.

  1. BLUE HAT.

The control, the organization.

It is the style of the manager, which guarantees the balance between the rest of the hats. With this role, the topics to be discussed are organized and controlled, the time is fixed, the next steps are decided, and the conclusions are drawn. In short, it is the role that maintains discipline when hats are worn.


When deciding to play, the first question that arises is how much time should be devoted to each hat. The experts advise about 5 min for each one, although it may vary according to the number of participants.

In spite of this, it is preferable not to limit the time to the white hat when there is too much information to try and let the black and yellow hats speak until they have nothing new to add.

However, it is advisable to restrict the time to the red hat, because people usually feel obliged to want to justify their feelings and that is not the purpose of this hat.

Also, it is important that once you start playing, all participants use the same hat at the same time (except the moderator who always uses blue).


The most recommended cycle is to start by using the white hat to gather information, followed by the green hat to gather alternatives. It is followed by the yellow hat and then the black one because it is always harder to be an optimist after being pessimistic. Then, briefly choosing the red hat and finally, the blue one is the most convenient alternative.

 One of the advantages that I see to this method is the feeling of freedom that it gives you. Once you put on a hat, you can say things that you would otherwise think twice before saying. You act in some way protected by the hat you wear; the costume protects you. Anything goes.

That you have a great idea that can be extravagant and crazy? With the green hat, you can say it without fear of being criticized. There are no silly ideas because they are all welcome. And later, with the yellow hat you can defend its validity and all the positive it has.

When you do not see clearly the solution that is being evaluated to apply to a problem, with the black hat you can list all the disadvantages without fear of being labelled negative and sceptical.

Therefore, you already know the answer to the question at the beginning. If someone tells you to take off your black hat and put on your yellow, you will have to stop seeing the glass half empty to start seeing the glass half full.

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