Six Thinking Hats is a system designed by Edward de Bono which describes a tool for group discussion and individual thinking involving six colored hats. “Six Thinking Hats” and the associated idea parallel thinking provide a means for groups to plan thinking processes in a detailed and cohesive way, and in doing so to think together more effectively.
The premise of the method is that the human brain thinks in a number of distinct ways which can be deliberately challenged, and hence planned for use in a structured way allowing one to develop tactics for thinking about particular issues. de Bono identifies six distinct directions in which the brain can be challenged. In each of these directions the brain will identify and bring into conscious thought certain aspects of issues being considered (e.g. gut instinct, pessimistic judgement, neutral facts). None of these directions are completely natural ways of thinking, but rather how some of us already represent the results of our thinking.
Six distinct directions are identified and assigned a color. The six directions are:
- Managing Blue – what is the subject? what are we thinking about? what is the goal?
- Information White – considering purely what information is available, what are the facts?
- Emotions Red – intuitive or instinctive gut reactions or statements of emotional feeling (but not any justification)
- Discernment Black – logic applied to identifying reasons to be cautious and conservative
- Optimistic response Yellow – logic applied to identifying benefits, seeking harmony
- Creativity Green – statements of provocation and investigation, seeing where a thought goes
Coloured hats are used as metaphors for each direction. Switching to a direction is symbolized by the act of putting on a coloured hat, either literally or metaphorically. These metaphors allow for a more complete and elaborate segregation of the thinking directions. The six thinking hats indicate problems and solutions about an idea the thinker may come up with.