Many clients seek out our facilitation services to help their team or department work through a challenging problem, to realign their strategy to a new set of organizational priorities, or to simply help them navigate a difficult conflict situation. In all these instances, creativity is necessary to find new approaches and new ways of thinking. And…creativity isn’t just for artists and musicians! In fact, creativity is a trait required of many effective leaders in today’s workplace.

If you are looking for a new approach to bringing creative energy to a task or team assignment, check out the Six Hats Technique, originally described in the book of the same title by Edward de Bono. This technique can help to generate more ideas than you would have typically had if you if you just looked at one or two perspectives.

White Hat:  Use an objective perspective. What are the known facts? The white hat also analyzes past data and trends to help determine what it may mean for the present situation.

Yellow Hat:  Uses a positive perspective. What’s good about this idea? The yellow hat thinks through what will happen if everything goes according to plan.

Black Hat: Uses a negative perspective. What’s bad about this idea? The black hat asks what could go wrong and anticipates shortcoming and problems.

Blue Hat:  Uses a parameters perspective. What’s the end goal and how do we stay focused on the problem at hand? The blue hat keeps everyone on task, reigns in conversations that get off topic and sets parameters for the overall discussion.

Green Hat:  Uses a creative perspective? What haven’t we thought of? The green hat puts no parameters or limitations on the conversation, on resources or on the possibilities. The green hat encourages boundless ideas, alternatives and new ways of seeing a problem.

Red Hat:  Uses an emotional perspective. What’s your gut reaction? The red hat thinks of what people’s reactions will be to an idea or decision. The red hat examines intuition, first impressions, and overall emotional connections.

For more on the Six Hats Technique, check out this article.

Author’s Note: In reviewing the Six Hats Technique, we did notice the alignment of the white hat description with what is generally considered good and “objective” while the black hat description was characterized as negative. We recognize that language conveys meaning and the traditional equating of the color white with “good” images and the color black with “bad” or negative images is problematic. We invite all writers to examine the way language may intentionally and unintentionally include or exclude individuals and groups of individuals.

Tara B. Taylor, MPA
Managing Director