Friday Book in a Page: Six Thinking Hats

I’ll admit it. I suffer from often thinking that the way I think about something is the way that most people think about it. (and honestly, thank god for the world that this is not true!)

One of the most insightful and thought-provoking books that helped me untrain my mind from this way of thinking was Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono. 

And if you ever (often?) find yourself in a meeting where a discussion turns into an argument about whose perspective has more merit, you might also want to read this book. 

In Six Thinking Hats, de Bono introduces a brilliant thinking framework designed to expand your cognitive ability and perspectives. He argues that our minds are too chaotic and undisciplined, like a pack of wild squirrels on Red Bull. So, he presents six metaphorical hats, each representing a different perspective, to tame our mental madness and promote effective decision-making and discussion. These six clear directions, or hats, represent a particular line of human thought and are assigned a different colour. 

Here’s a summary of the six hats and the key messages of the book:

White Hat: Objectives and facts. Asks “What do we know for sure?” and “What problem are we trying to solve?”
Yellow Hat: Optimistically imagining the best outcome. Asks “What’s the very best outcome that exceeds all our wildest desires?”
Green Hat: Creativity and Brainstorming. Asks “What are all the possible ways to solve the problem?”
Red Hat: Emotions and intuition. Asks “How do we feel about this?”
Black Hat: Critical judgement that points out weaknesses in ideas. Asks “What are all the risks?” and “What could go wrong?”
Blue Hat: Organization and Process. Asks “How are we going to get this done?”

 Key Messages:

  1. We suck at considering different perspectives. One of the biggest hurdles to effective decision-making is our limited viewpoint. De Bono's hats force us to step into various mindsets and consider multiple angles. It's like entering a mental kaleidoscope where you can't escape the kaleidoscope until you've thoroughly pondered every colour. It's uncomfortable, but it makes you smarter.
  2. The power of teamwork. De Bono emphasizes the importance of collaborative thinking with this framework. He suggests that teams should collectively wear a specific hat at a time, which helps avoid the chaotic circus of clashing thoughts and egos. 
  3. Black Hat thinking isn't all doom and gloom. Most people see criticism as a Debbie Downer, but de Bono's Black Hat thinking is necessary. By critically examining the downsides and risks, you can make more informed decisions and avoid stepping in proverbial piles of dog poop.
  4. Green Hat thinking is where the magic happens. Save your black hat thinking until after your green hat thinking.

Lasting message: Bright, creative and critical thinking is a skill, not a mystical power bestowed upon a select few. By embracing the disciplined approach of wearing different hats and considering diverse perspectives, we can break free from our mental limitations.

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