TSAT Thinking Day: How to make Thinking Tools work for you

TSAT Thinking Day: How to make Thinking Tools work for you

Have you ever used De Bono’s Thinking Hats in a meeting? Well here are plenty of reasons why you should start using them from today!

Trust wide, our students know and use Thinking Hats every day in their lessons. The Thinking Hats help our pupils think clearly and thoroughly in one direction at a time – white hat for facts, green hat for creativity, yellow hat for the benefits, black hat for the cautions/challenges, red hat for feelings, and the blue hat for process. It’s a simple mental metaphor.

DISCOVER MORE: How metacognition helps at work

Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono describes a technique for optimising the thought process done by a group of people, especially during live meetings. There are six different hats which represent six different approaches to a discussion. Each hat has a different purpose and there is a “meta” hat which drives the conversation.

The main idea behind this technique is to allow people to organise their thoughts better and make sure that everyone is working towards the same goal.

Your preferences have prevented this content from being loaded. If you have recently changed your preferences, please try reloading the page


The Six Thinking Hats

  • The “White Hat” implies that the person will only provide information as “hard” facts. The point of using this hat is to make sure that everyone is working with the same objective, uninterpreted set of data.


  • The “Red Hat” is the hat that allows the person to express any kind of feeling without needing provide any reasons. The red hat also includes opinions about any kind of information that may be presented under the white hat.


  • The “Black Hat” is that hat which allows people to pass criticism for an idea with the purpose of identifying any weaknesses or risks.

Your preferences have prevented this content from being loaded. If you have recently changed your preferences, please try reloading the page


  • The “Yellow Hat” is the hat that restricts the person to only providing optimistic views on the matter. It is, in a way, the opposite of the black hat. It presumes that, even if a solution has some weaknesses, it also has strengths and that, for now, the person should focus on those and provide realistic solutions.


  • The “Green Hat” is the hat that inspires people to be creative. This is different from the yellow hat because the yellow hat inspires finding a solution, not necessarily, a new, innovative one. The green hat implies working towards creating something “NEW”. Under the green hat everyone is encouraged to suggest new ideas, not judge, and build on the ideas of others.


  • The “Blue Hat” is in charge of moderating the meeting. The blue hat is the one which decides which hat the other people should “put on” based on different types of reasoning.


READ MORE: Do YOU have these five Critical Thinking skills


In a meeting, the blue hat manages the meeting, the white hat puts all the information on the table, the red hat puts all the feelings on the table, the yellow hat finds solutions and brings optimism, the green hat creates new ideas and the black hat finds risks.


Six Thinking Hats Examples

  1. Mike is frustrated at Louise, therefore everything that Louise says, unconsciously, Mike tries to disprove and disagree with. By encouraging Mike to speak out about his feelings (red hat) will allow him to have a more objective opinion and interaction with Louise.
  2. There is a person that always has to find something wrong with any idea and tries, unconsciously and in good faith, to convince everyone to give up the idea. Encourage him to focus on the good parts about the matter. (yellow hat)
  3. You are not up to date with what is happening in a project and you’re after an objective view on the matter. People who are deeply involved in a project often get to have a skewed view on it, because they are too close. Bringing some awareness on this and requesting only hard facts (White hat) and data as information is one of the best ways to start.
  4. You feel that the meeting is not well organised people get there and start discussing, jumping from subject to subject without a particular purpose. Pump the breaks and request data, opinions, ideas, solutions from people there. (blue hat)
  5. You are trying to find solutions to a difficult problem and it seems that you have some suggestions but none of them offer a complete solution. You ignore their weaknesses and focus on the good parts and try to build up from there and see where you can get. Even if an idea is not perfect it could lead to the final solution. (black hat)
  6. You have done the yellow hat thinking but your solutions are not great. You now need to try to come up with some out-of-the-box ideas. (green hat)

The concept is simple, but so powerful, it enables meta-thinking that comes to you easily and is always present in your mind; it makes people not only think about things, but also think about how they are thinking about those things and organising their thoughts better.

The hats are a great prop to encourage use but the true power of this technique is that it gets people to think about what they think, reflect on their true feelings and understand at a different level their thoughts and the impact they have on others.

Give it a go next time you’re in meeting!