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.
- Flip charts, markers
- Prop hats of the 6 colors, or some other visual prompt
- 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).