IAF Methods

Six Thinking Hats

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A creative facilitation technique to generate and evaluate ideas.



To enhance the ability of a group to see an issue from a number of perspectives, rather than to argue one perspective against another. Sometimes referred to as parallel thinking. 





    • Pre-Work Required: Consider offering a brief presentation or short pre-reading on the nature of Parallel Thinking.



    1. Introduction: The metaphor of six colored thinking hats; "white, red, black, yellow, green and blue" is used to align the members of a discussion so that they are all looking in the same direction at one time. It is essential that everyone is wearing the same colour hat at the same moment. The "hats" are described below; 

    • The white hat suggests paper and computer print-outs. The white hat means "information". When the white hat is on everyone if focusing on information.
    • Think of red as fire and warm. The red hat represents emotions, feelings and intuition. The red hat is very important because it allows emotions and intuitions in the discussion without the need to explain why one feels that way.
    • This is the most used in normal behaviour. The black hat is the basis of "critical thinking": is this right or wrong?
    • The yellow hat is the much-neglected positive aspect of thinking. Wearing the yellow hat the group looks for values, benefits and why something should work.
    • The green hat lets participants explore the issue using a creative mindset. In this role they may use statements of provocation and investigation. Let wild ideas and thoughts flow freely. Experience the freedom of seeing where a thought goes.  This approach would best be characterized as thinking creatively and outside the box.
    • The blue hat considers the issue from a managing perspective. Wearing the blue hat the group asks questions such as; "What is the subject? What are we thinking about? What is the goal? Can  we look at the big picture.."

    2.  Steps: participants discuss their issue from the perspective of one of the hats and then move to another one. 

    3. The facilitator captures the ideas generated on flipcharts.


    Follow-Up Required: Go to the idea processing step or convergence steps.

    Usual or Expected Outcomes: A number of ideas from different perspectives


    Source: Maureen Jenkins

    Derived from: Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats.

    Examples of successes and failures: Carrillo y Asociados (Guatemala City), County of San Bernardino, CA., Los Angeles Redevelopment Authority, Anacocha Mine (Peru). 

    Comments (4) (5.0 avg / 1 ratings)

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    • I use the blue hat in meetings to get participants to provide their input to how a project or an issue needs to be managed. Recently we were discussing a new training program and I am facilitating the discussion. I used the hats to manage how we discuss the new program and when I got to blue hat, the team shared their ideas about that aspect of the new program. Here are a few blue hat examples, 'how will we manage registration' or 'how will we select participants' this is the blue hat thinking I was looking for when I used the 6 hats method as a facilitator. I also use the blue hat later in the discussion as it is one of the least creative hats but necessary to think about all of the things that we need to manage. Hope this example is helpful.

      3 years ago
    • Agreed - Blue is the "PM" person and she needs to facilitate the whole process.

      3 years ago
    • I agree with you Mara. That is my understanding also.

      3 years ago
    • My understanding about the blue hat is that the blue hat is the person who is facilitating the process. I haven't seen it used as thinking from a blue hat perspective. What are others' experiences?

      3 years ago