How 6 hats can help solve your problems

17 October 2019 by Rachel Whalley
Workplace Productivity Problem Solving

Do you ever find yourself in a brainstorm, with no new ideas? Or stuck with a hurdle and no way of getting over it? That’s where the 6 thinking hats method comes in. 

It provides an efficient way to problem solve, one that you can use individually or with your team! Each hat takes on a role and a way of thinking, and all are equally as important as each other - even the Black hat, the negative one!

Here’s a guide to each Hat, and how you can utilize them to help solve any problems you are facing:

1. The Blue Hat

The managerial & organized one. They manage the process and facilitates the flow and use of the other hats, ensuring the process is efficient and productive. The blue hat does not get involved with the problem itself, it oversees the thinking and pulls these together to form action plans and next steps. Here are some questions you could ask in the Blue Hat role:

  • What is the problem we are facing?
  • What are the goals and outcomes?
  • What’s the more effective way to proceed from here?

2. The White Hat

The one with neutral objectivity. Their biggest concern is with collecting the data, facts, figures, and statistics to help them draw logical solutions. The white hat does not have beliefs or opinion, it only focuses on solid evidence and hard facts - it is all that matters to them. The main objective of this role is to present a set of logical and neutral solutions that help the other hats with further thinking and exploration of ideas. Here are some questions you could ask in the White Hat role:

  • What do / don’t I know about this problem?
  • What can I learn from this problem?
  • What more would I like to learn about this problem?

3. The Red Hat

The one with heart and emotion. They’re very intuitive thinkers who rely on gut feelings, hunches, and instincts. The red hat avoids justifying or rationalizing its feelings and never considers the logic. The red hat is very open-minded and seeks to identify & communicate other people’s feelings and relate them to the problem faced. It can also use its intuition to uncover hidden weaknesses in ideas. Here are some questions you could ask in the Red Hat role:

  • What is my gut instinct about this solution?
  • What do I feel about this solution?

4. The Yellow Hat

The one with optimism. They bring a positive, welcoming and radiant energy to all the ideas, and seek to infuse positive ideas into the process to enhance motivation and open new doors. They don’t have any boundaries and believe they will always find a way, so must avoid bringing solutions based on facts, feelings or opinions. A Yellow Hat helps the team see a larger number of opportunities and the benefits of them. Here are some questions you could as in the Yellow Hat role:

  • How can I best approach this problem?
  • What are the positive outcomes of this solution?
  • What are the longer-term benefits?

5. The Green Hat

The one with creativity. They approach problems in an open, flexible and unconstrained way, and continually think outside of the box. The Green Hat persistently generates ideas, creative and unique ones that are outside of the other hats thinking and can unlock new opportunities and solutions. Here are some questions you could as in the Green Hat role:

  • What if?
  • Could this be done in a different way?
  • What alternatives are there here?

6. The Black Hat

The one with pessimism and judgment. Their role is to evaluate and scrutinize the solutions that have been presented by the other hats, they are pessimistic in nature. The Black Hat is there to expose and raise all the flaws or dangers that could arise from each situation, largely through critiquing their weaknesses. Here are some questions you could as in the Black Hat role:

  • How likely is this to fail?
  • What is the drawback of this solution?
  • What are the risks and consequences here?

On their own these hats represent one, singular and linear way of thinking - but used together they can allow an individual or team to look at a problem from multiple different angles, and work in harmony to create the best solution possible. 

So next time you are in a muddle try this method, and see if can help you!