De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats

It’s a simple way of thinking about the six approaches to a business strategy. As the name suggests, each of the six approaches can be designated by a hat, each with its corresponding color. For those who are new to management or collaborating with a team, here’s a TLDR:

White Hat:

When dealing with finances, the bottom line is always the numbers. The White Hat looks at the data as it is to draw conclusions: funding, revenue, expenses, profit, the whole nine yards.

Yellow Hat:

Pessimists, you’ve got to give yourself the benefit of the doubt sometimes when the going gets tough and try out your Yellow Hat. Optimism is key to team morale and success.

Black Hat:

Think of the Black Hat as the Yin to the Yellow Hat’s Yang. With any business strategy, you have to calculate the risk-reward value of your actions, even if that means being a bit cynical at times.

Red Hat:

Simply put, the Red Hat represents our natural human instincts and feelings. Whether it be curiosity or purpose, it’s crucial to communicate your emotions with your team. A shared, team-wide sense of ambition and commitment can only do a world of good for your team’s long-term goals.

Green Hat:

Like the right side of your brain, your Green Hat is all about creativity and imagination. It’s all about thinking outside the box and taking some risks at the drawing board or when troubleshooting.

Blue Hat:

Procrastinators, try out the Blue Hat! When styling your Blue Hat, you have to think about the big picture: the timeline and upcoming deadlines. Proactivity is the first step in fulfilling your long-term, fiscal-year goals as a business.

If you have yet to notice, the Hats balance each other out. You should use your White Hat’s objectivity in conjunction with your Red Hat’s subjectivity. When you’re at the drawing table with your team, try out the Blue and Yellow Hats: be positive and unbiased when making the tough calls. Whenever you see yourself with your Black Hat and overcome with seemingly insurmountable problems, try out your Green Hat.

Simply put, using one hat isn’t enough – it’s important to remember to switch your hats now and then to get a better understanding of the big picture. When we let ourselves become dominated by the fear of failure or the cynical nature of business. Remember that a balance of objectivity and subjectivity means everything when working with a team. So whenever you’re overwhelmed with your thoughts and worries, take a step back and remember this simple trick.