Omar Zenhom shares a quick review of Edward de Bono’s book, Six Thinking Hats, on the $100 MBA podcast. The framework presented by de Bono is practical and useful when making decisions.
Listen to Zenhom’s 15 minute review here, and check out a short transcription and graphic below.
As Edward de Bono explains in his book, thinking is the ultimate human resource. Yet, we can never be satisfied with our most important skill.
No matter how good we become, we should always want to be better. Usually the only people who are satisfied with their thinking skills are those who are poor thinkers.
And Edward de Bono makes it very clear at the start of the book that the purpose of thinking is not to prove yourself right to your own satisfaction.
That encourages you to have a limited view. And shuts you off from options that may be better than the current one you’re taking advantage of.
The main difficulty of thinking is confusion. People get overwhelmed. People get confused. They don’t know how to organize their thinking.
When it comes to making a decision, there’s many options. Many ways to go about these options. They are so many things that come into play like emotions, information, logic, hope, creativity.
All of this surrounds us when we’re making a decision.
This book organizes the different ways you think. The different ways you make decisions. And allows you to see through each filter before you make a final decision.
In other words, it allows us to conduct our thinking as conductors. Somebody who is in control of the way we think.
When we take a moment to think about things in specific ways, in this book six defined ways, it’s a lot easier to think clearly about a decision.
We’re less likely to get overwhelmed and more confident in the decision we make at the end.
Each thinking hat has a color. And each color represents a different way of thinking.
The first hat is the white hat. The white hat is neutral. It’s objective. The white hat is concerned with objective facts and figures.
The hat is you thinking in the way. So when you wear the white hat, you’re very neutral and very objective.
You’re just looking at the facts in front of you. You’re making decisions based on reality, on things you can actually prove are correct.
The red hat suggests anger or seeing red. Rage or extreme emotion or extreme passion.
The red hat gives the emotional point of view. Again this isn’t bad, it just is.
The black hat is somber and serious. The black hat is cautious and careful. It points out the weaknesses in ideas.
You might say the black hat is a bit cynical.
The yellow hat is sunny. It’s positive. The yellow hat is optimistic. It’s full of hope and positive thinking.
So in a lot of ways, the yellow hat and the black hat are sort of opposites.
Green as in grass, vegetation, abundance. Or fertile growth, let’s say.
The green hat indicates creativity and new ideas. Children often wear the green hat.
They’re always growing, they’re always thinking. They’re saying why not. They’re going for things.
The blue hat is cool. Not cool as in awesome. Cool as in chill.
It’s also the color of the sky, which is above everything.
The blue hat is concerned with control. The organization of the thinking process and the use of the other hats.
How do I use these other hats?
Number one it allows you to come to a decision and say things with minimal risk because you’ve gone through all the different ways you can think about it.
Number two it creates an awareness that gives you multiple perspectives on an issue that you might have. Whether that’s a challenge or disagreement in your business. It helps you understand the other people that disagree with you.
Number three it provides a convenient mechanize for switching gears, from going from one way of thinking to another in a deliberate way. You have these defined ways of going about thinking about this issue, challenge or decision using my red hat, using my black hat. How do I see things now?
Number four it organizes the way you think about something.
And number five, which is probably the biggest takeaway I got from the book, is it helps you as an individual to expand your thinking capacity.
By adopting other perspectives that aren’t necessarily your own.
This is important for you to be a well-rounded leader. You’re going to be leading different kinds of people, different kinds of opinions.
You can’t just see things in your way. You have to see things in everybody’s way.
And you’ll be able to communicate with them in a better way if you can see things from their perspective.
A quick example is when hiring someone new. I take a look at their experience, their attitude, how the interview.
And I think about hiring or not hiring through these six thinking hats.
For example, I’ll look at it through a white hat perspective. I’ll look at the information on the resumes. The actual facts and figures. What have they done in the past that will prove they’ll be good at this position?
I’ll then take a look at it with my red hat on. How do I feel about this person? Were they friendly? Did I get a good vibe on the actual interview? Do I like them? Do I actually want to spend time with them as a colleague?
Then I’ll look at the situation with my black hat on. I’m looking for faults now. They’re about a minute late, two minutes late on that Skype call. Does that matter? There was a typo in their email to me the second time around. So I’m looking through that hat.
Then I’ll put on my yellow hat. And be more optimistic. Take a look at who referred this person. This is a great person that referred them.
And given the circumstance they were nervous on this interview, they did an amazing job.
I’ll put my green hat on. Does this person have potential to grow? To expand? To become even better?
Lastly, I put my blue hat on and look at all the different hats at the same time. And I evaluate. How do I feel about it after I’ve gone through that whole situation?
I spend about two to three solid minutes thinking about this decision with each hat. And now that I’ve gone through that cycle, I can say, you know what, I should hire this person.
Because as I’ve went through this exercise, I think they’d be a good fit. That it will be a better decision to hire them than not to hire them.
Thanks, Omar and Edward.