De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats

Camino de Santiago wall of hats
Here’s a wall of hats in a café somewhere along the Camino de Santiago. My less-than-stellar note-taking means I’ve entirely forgotten where it was and I haven’t consulted my peregrino passport so you’ll just have to content yourself with ‘wall of hats’.

Today, however, it’s a visual prop for de Bono’s ‘Six Thinking Hats’. We all have particular thinking frameworks and habits that we tend to utilise, but we can often benefit from looking at things in different ways. Try this exercise with your coach or a friend the next time you’re problem-solving or trying to make a decision.

1) The White Hat calls for information gathering. Ask yourself: What factual information do you have about the issue? What does it tell you? What other information do you need or want?

2) The Yellow Hat is optimistic yet logical. You put on this hat to explore the positives of a course of action and to understand what value and benefit it would bring.

3) The Black Hat is critical evaluation. Can be overused to the detriment of the other hats. Black spots the risks and difficulties so you can work out a plan to manage them.

4) The Red Hat signifies feelings, hunches and intuition. The heart and gut hat.

5) The Green Hat focuses on creativity – possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas. What haven’t you thought of? What would happen if you approached this problem from a completely different viewpoint?

6) The Blue Hat is a bit like internal audit! This is the hat to be worn by your coach or facilitator and is used as a control mechanism in the thinking process. Blue Hat helps you to manage your other hats and guide and stimulate the process.

There you have it. Hats.

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd

Action-priority matrix

Action-priority matrix

Need a boost with time management and prioritisation? Here’s an easy tool for you.

Everything you do has an impact and varying levels of difficulty. Where do you need to focus your effort?

High effort, but high impact: PLAN how you’re going to do this. How can you break down the task into manageable chunks?

Low effort, high impact: IMPLEMENT. These are your quick wins! How many can you get done today?

Low effort, low impact: CONSIDER how it would make you feel having done this. Good? Do it. Is it necessary? Do it.

High effort, low impact: KICK OUT already. If you think there’s some compelling reason why you need to do it, consider whether it’s actually in the right category.

I like to use this exercise with my clients. It’s a great way to focus, particularly when you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Draw the chart on a large sheet of paper. Write down all the things on your to-do list on post-its for easy rearranging and categorisation. Assign a category to each of them and stick them in the appropriate quadrant of the chart. Now challenge yourself to get everything in the right category. It helps with a coach guiding you 😉

– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd