Facilitator Journal | Issue #0149 | April 20, 2004 | 8,000 Subscribers...
As facilitators, we're big on process. Right? So this week, I thought
I'd share a great little tool that can help us individually and collectively
expand our thinking processes. This week's article, "Can You Choose
Your Thinking Cap," summarizes the "Six Thinking Hats"
technique by Edward de Bono. This is a simple yet effective technique
to help us view the effects of our decisions from a several different
perspectives. It allows necessary emotion and skepticism to be brought
into what would otherwise be purely rational decisions, and opens up
the opportunity to bring creativity to bare on decision-making. I hope
you find it useful!
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Can You Choose Your Thinking Cap?
Edward de Bono's book "Six Thinking Hats," he describes six
different perspectives from which to view problems and make decisions.
This can be quite useful considering most of us tend to make decisions
out of habit and may not be fully conscious of the process we go through.
Knowing this will help us understand information or perspectives we may
be overlooking prior to making decisions.
For example, many
successful people in the modern world think from a very rational, positive
viewpoint. But often they fail to look at a problem from an emotional,
intuitive, creative or negative viewpoint. This can mean that they underestimate
resistance to plans, fail to make creative leaps and do not make essential
may be excessively defensive. Emotional people may fail to look at decisions
calmly and rationally.
If you look at a problem
with the 'Six Thinking Hats' technique, then you will solve it using all
approaches. Your decisions and plans will mix ambition, skill in execution,
public sensitivity, creativity and good contingency planning.
How to Use the Tool
You can use Six Thinking Hats in meetings or on your own. In meetings
it has the benefit of blocking the confrontations that happen when people
with different thinking styles discuss the same problem. Each
'Thinking Hat' is a different style of thinking as explained below:
The White thinking hat seeks to learn by gathering and assessing all available
information. Use this hat by seeking out knowledge gaps and try to fill
them or consider them in your decision-making. Using this hat, you'll
trends, and try to extrapolate from historical data.
Trying on the red hat, get a "sense" of your problems through
use of your intuition. What is your gut reaction to this problem? What
feelings arise? Also consider how other people will react emotionally
to this problem or to your solution. Try to understand the responses of
people who may not be fully aware of your reasoning.
With the black hat you get to play the devil's advocate. Look at all the
negative aspects of your decision. What might it not work? What's wrong
with it?. This approach will help you to detect the flaws in your reasoning
or the weak points in your plan. It allows you to eliminate them, alter
them, or prepare contingency plans to counter them.
Black Hat thinking
helps to make your plans 'tougher' and more resilient. It can also help
you to spot fatal flaws and risks before you embark on a course of action.
Black Hat thinking is one of the real benefits of this technique, as many
successful people get so used to thinking positively that often they cannot
see problems in advance. This leaves them under-prepared for difficulties.
The yellow hat helps you to think positively. Use this hat to view the
upside potential of your plan and its value to all concerned parties.
Yellow Hat thinking will help you persevere when the going gets tough.
The Green Hat stands for creativity. Use this hat to develop creative
solutions to a problem. It is a freewheeling way of thinking, in which
there is little criticism of ideas. A whole range of creativity tools
can help you here. When you're in the pure brainstorming mode, you're
wearing your Green hat.
This is the facilitator's hat concerned with controlling processes. When
running into difficulties because ideas are running dry, they may direct
activity into Green Hat thinking. When contingency plans are needed, they
will ask for Black Hat thinking, etc. A variation of this technique is
to look at problems from the point of view of different professionals
(e.g. doctors, architects, sales directors, etc.) or different customers.
The directors of a
non-profit wellness program are looking to expand their charter into the
mental health arena. Their is a severe shortage of services in their community
and this continues to be an ongoing problem that they hope to reduce through
leadership, education, and collaboration. As part of their decision they
decide to use the 6 Thinking Hats technique during a planning meeting.
the problem with the White Hat, they analyze the data they have. They
examine the trends in the mental health field and within their community.
Available information shows a huge gap in what's needed and what's available.
With Red Hat thinking,
some of the directors simply aren't really excited about getting into
the mental health area. It depresses them just talking about it. Others
are extremely passionate about it. Most of the latter group have had mentally
ill friends or family members and can empathize with their situations.
When they think with the Black Hat, they worry that the problem is just
too big for their little program to be of much help. They're concerned
that this new direction may jeopardize their success with their current
customers in the mentally healthy population. Further, even though there
is grant funding available, they are uncertain of their chances to attract
it given the size of their fairly meager population of just over 25,000
With the Yellow Hat,
however, they feel that it won't cost a lot to really improve the mental
health situation in their community. They feel that this new direction
is a noble one that their organization is in a unique position to support
With Green Hat thinking
they consider how they might be able to significantly improve communication,
cooperation, and collaboration between existing service agencies so that
everyone can win. Through education, they feel they can improve public
understanding and support through funding and volunteerism. They know
there are many more ideas and resources at their fingertips that simply
need to be tapped and creatively applied to the problem.
The Blue Hat has been
used by the meeting's Facilitator to move between the different thinking
styles. She may have needed to keep other members of the team from switching
styles, or from criticizing other peoples' points.
Six Thinking Hats
is a good technique for looking at the effects of a decision from a several
different perspectives. It allows necessary emotion and skepticism to
be brought into what would otherwise be purely rational decisions. It
opens up the opportunity to bring creativity to bare on decision-making.
The technique also helps, for example, persistently pessimistic people
to be positive and creative.
Plans developed using
the "Six Thinking Hats" technique will be sounder and more resilient.
It may also help you to avoid public relations mistakes, and spot good
reasons not to follow a course of action before you have committed to
Try the "Six Thinking Hats" technique this work with your group
or with a problem of your own. Please email
us to tell us how it worked for you.
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Attend this one-hour tele-seminar on
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We'll discuss the 5 P's: (1) Pre-session interview, (2) Power, (3) Protection,
(4) Permission, and (5) Potency of guided imagery.
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Ellen: Ellen Britt, PA-C, Ed.D. is a SUN coach as well as an experienced
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4. Guided meditation exercises in real audio for:
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for details about this interview, the bonuses, and registration.
Thinking Hats, by Edward Debono
Good thinking is
simple. The goal of effective thinking is to make complexity managable.
The Six Thinking Hats Method is by design a KISS system that is not intended
to emphasize how clever any individuals in a group are, but to make actionable
decisions--in most cases to achieve business results (as de Bono wryly
notes elsewhere, most academics aren't interested in effective thinking).
The idea is that everyone in a group focuses on a specific element (Hat)
at the same time, not individually. Doing it this way reduces argument
and the role of ego in the conversation.
As de Bono notes,
an important element in his work is also to demystify creativity, and
help people understand you don't need lava lamps and candles to "do"
creativity effectively. You don't have to be goofy. Ordinary business
people working on engines and vaccines--and, as far as that goes, Accounts
Payable, Sales, and Project Management--need creativity to be effective
and competitive in a 24 hour global marketplace. Review by Barry Cooper,
KY United States.
Teleclass for facilitators and change agents.
skills and attitudes for the new and experienced
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to thank you for designing a course that lived up to its advertisement.
I found the daily curriculum practical and thought provoking.
The ideas developed each day created foundations for the lessons
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for feedback. --Steven
Pyser, J.D., consultant--
Random Acts of Facilitation, 5-Day Teleclass
This class will meet over a telephone bridge line for five consecutive
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These "discrete" acts of facilitation also lend themselves
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the 5-Day Format/Training works...
1. You dial into your class every day for 5 days (Mon-Fri) for
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4. During the week, you may access the instructor via email
for help or situational questions.
Random Acts of Facilitation Training Agenda...
Here's what you'll be learning and doing during the 5-Day course...
Introduction to the Facilitation
and Self Facilitation Skills.
1. Create the Ambience.
2. Share the Dream.
3. Get Facilitation
5. Me First.
Relating with compassion and understanding.
6. Be Ignorant.
7. Make Smiles Happen.
8. Hold 'em High.
9. Acknowledge the Elephant.
10. Turn on Your Crap-Detector.
11. Build the Container.
12. Build trust.
13. Mine the Unexpected.
14. Evolve Your Team.
15. Honor the Process.
16. Facilitate Full Participation
Organizing and Presenting yourself
confidently, professionally, and authentically.
17. Prepare for Success.
18. Get Real.
19. Make Experiences, Not Speeches
20. Watch the Body Talk.
21. Be your message
Intervening to shift group energy
22. Tame the Tormentors.
24. Use the Struggle.
25. Break through barriers.
26. Facilitate from Within.
27. Embrace Facilitation as a Master's Path
to you of participating from the 5-Day Random Acts of Facilitation
1. Get a great introduction to the concept and practice of facilitation
skills if you are contemplating becoming a facilitator, team
leader, board member, manager, mediator, etc.
2. Never waste another minute in an ineffective meeting again.
3. Learn how to challenge and empower every group you come in
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Also included with your training...
In addition to the 5-Day training described above, you also
1. Comprehensive 15-page Student Learning Guide.
access to the participant-only website (lots of resources, forms,
3. Free access to the RealAudio version of the 5-Day training.
4. Free copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value).
The full cost of training/access is only $79 if you register
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May 3-7, 2004, 10:00 AM PST, 1:00 PM EST (NY Time), 60 minutes
I would recommend to anyone who wants to experience excellent
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--Elain Wylie, Life Coach--
upon completion of your registration, you will receive an email
with instructions to access the course and free article bank.
This course is limited to 20 individuals, first come, first
here to register now
the satisfaction guarantee
If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with this package,
simply email us with a request to refund/credit your credit
card in the full amount and we will do so immediately. It's
our policy to do this and we honor this in every single case.
(Why? Because we are sensitive to the fact that you are buying
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isn't EXACTLY what you expected or wanted, that you should be
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here for a one-minute audio testimonial from several
participants on the final day of the teleclass.