The Problem Solver

‘Let’s put on our Thinking Caps and see if we can’t have an idea,’ said Cricket, passing the caps around.

Anna Rose Wright (from Whirligig House)

I love the Six Hats, mainly because it gives me a chance to have an argument with myself – something which I am frequently told I am more than capable of doing!

The strategy was developed by Dr. Edward De Bono and is extremely simple, versatile and flexible, basically consisting of six different coloured hats which represent different thinking strategies –

White for fact-based thinking

Yellow for optimism

Black for caution

Red for emotion

Green for creativity

Blue for process control

There are variations of the above but, generally, you look at problems and ideas from six different viewpoints to move an idea forward.  When I started pottering around this method I did find that six differing perspectives was rather a lot to contend with but soon got used to stretching my thinking in different directions.

I have a tendency to fall so in love with an idea that I don’t consider any cons, or vice versa – I discount something before I’ve even given it a chance, so if you are much the same then this strategy is worth a good go.

I’m sure if you are interested you will find out more for yourself but, briefly, let me introduce you to the super six –

When white hat thinking you take a realistic view what is needed –

White facts 1

Sunshine all the way whilst you engage in an optimistic way, highlighting all the benefits and advantages of an idea –

Yellow Optimism

Black hat thinkers take a look at an idea with caution and try to identify any problems or disadvantages associated with it.  It assists in enabling solutions to be found to any problems highlighted –

Black Caution

Wearing the red had is all about emotions and gut reactions to an idea – why you may love or hate it, without having to understand the reasons behind a particular emotion –

Red Emotion 2

Green is my favourite because it’s all about the creativity in a discussion – whether creative ideas or thinking creatively in respect of solutions to any problems –

Green Creativity

Wearing the blue hat puts you in the facilitator role – making sure that any discussions are well managed and nudging them in a different direction if required –

Blue Control

The best example I can give of how I used it when I was considering running a creative coaching business as a sideline.  Make no mistake, I was more than flattered when a lady who had attending one of my mentoring sessions said that I was good enough to make a business out of it – so boy did I hot foot it to fairyland!

My mind soared into the clouds and my reasoning went out of the window – I went off on so many tangents that the tangents needed to-do lists.

Then, as is my usual wont, I started to catastrophise and it almost didn’t get off the ground, until I whipped out my six cards (Yes, but in my mind they are hats …) and had a preliminary bash at it – which I have truncated here because I’m sure you haven’t got all day …

Blue –

  • What do I want to do?
  • What would be my ideal outcome?
  • First three steps?

Yellow –

  • Personal development wise it would be a great fit
  • Very little initial outlay as I already have much of the equipment and information to hand
  • Additional income would be a boon
  • Lots of transferable skills so should be a straightforward transition

White –

  • Experienced mentor of 10+ years
  • Can this transfer to coaching?
  • Need to speak to successful coaches

Green –

  • Success could mean that I can give up the day job or take early retirement
  • I can expand to teach software skills / office skills
  • Presentation / motivational speaking

Red –

  • Love the idea!
  • But do I want to do it because I hate my day job?
  • I could make it work really well
  • What if I hate it – would it put me off mentoring as well?

Black –

  • Time will be a major factor?
  • Would I be taking on too much?
  • Would anyone be interested in what I have to say?!
  • Would I enjoy it as much if it became a business?
  • Expectations of potential clients –v- what I offer

The above is the order in which I did my first process – with very good reason!  I wanted to set out the process early on to focus and left black to the end because I am a natural born pessimist and wanted to build up a nice wall of positivity before hitting the downside.

The joy of the Six Hats is that you can do them in any order but consensus dictates, and I would agree, that blue is the best starter because it give a good framework, and you can at least set in your mind a rough idea of the direction you are heading.

I used the strategy every step of the way when I got serious about coaching and it worked! I first put my thinking hats on at the end of 2014 and December 2019 will see my fifth year as a creativity coach (plus a few other sidelines!).  It hasn’t all been plain sailing, and I nearly gave up on a couple of occasions, but most obstacles were dealt with by getting hatty!

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