The Six Thinking Hats

| by Katie Weeks

Have you ever known that something is important, and you know you need to process it, and you just aren’t sure how?

That is how I feel about this last year. So much has happened in the last year to change who we are, the organizations we are part of, and the world we live in.

  • Have we taken the time to acknowledge all the change and growth that has happened?
  • Have we taken the time to intentionally decide what is working well from this last year and continue with it?
  • Have we looked at the last year and called out things that are not working and set them aside?
  • As more people are vaccinated and mask mandates are lifted, are we prepared to reenter the new normal?
  • Can we take an active approach in creating what the new normal will look like for our organizations?

I was introduced to Six Thinking Hats by a wonderful client and, after two years of asking me to incorporate it into their annual retreat, we did…and it was powerful. Six Thinking Hats was developed by Dr. Edward de Bono with the idea of parallel thinking as a way for groups to think in a detailed and cohesive way, and in doing so to think together more effectively.

Yes, please! We can all learn to think more effectively.

So here is how it works. Each hat represents a different way of thinking:

BLUE                        The Big Picture & Managing

WHITE                      Facts & Information

RED                          Feelings & Emotions

BLACK                      Negative

YELLOW                   Positive      

GREEN                     New Ideas 

During my client’s annual board retreat, we used the Six Thinking Hats to process the question: What has the last year taught us about who we are and who we want to become as an organization?

 We took time to think about the question with each of the different colored hats. Our goal was to generate as many ideas as possible. Taking time to process this question allowed us to see the big picture but also dive into several things that were learned from the year. Having this discussion allowed everyone to participate and share what they had learned about the organization. From that, the organization was able to refresh their strategic plan and start making baby steps into what their new normal will look like.

One of my favorite quotes is “You aren’t comfortable when you are growing, and you aren’t growing when you are comfortable.”

So much of this past year was uncomfortable, but that is because we were growing.

Now let’s take this growth and create an even bigger impact by fulfilling our mission and working toward our vision.

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