Posted by | February 16, 2012 | Thursday Thoughts | No Comments

Righty-ho!  I’ve asked questions from the perspective of every coloured hat in De Bono terms now.  Mixed response which has tailed off the last week so time for synthesis as we’ve been involved in analysis for the last 7 weeks (albeit virtually).

I always think its important to describe what something IS NOT from the outset, so this technique is NOT a category of person in any way whatsoever.  We have not been trying to “label” or “box” people from illustrating the perspective they have been using in response to the questions posed.  But we have been trying to illustrate the plethora of approaches amongst us and its been hugely illustrative to see that everyone who has been kind enough to join in, has shown a preference for one, but an aptitude for many, different thinking styles.  There is no doubt that we would make a great team 🙂

Below, I outline the process itself, the benefits you could accrue from its use, as well as the ways you could apply this technique.


It’s a technique for a process which is very useful indeed if facilitated in a circle so that everyone has a chance to “wear” and answer a question from the perspective of one hat, all at the same time.  The question allows everyone to look in the same direction at the same time, and in no way is it a competition (which usually infuriates the more competitive members somewhat!)  For example: the facilitator asks a question and everyone in the circle is asked to answer/discuss it from one thinking perspective for a specific period of time, then there is rotation around all the hats.

This process then uses all the experience of everyone in the circle at any given time.  We’ve tried to do it virtually via this little series of questions but it really comes alive in real time and place.  There is an absolute need to separate out the modes of thinking and to focus on one at a time only, for a given period, say 10 mins each (less will work too, depends how many you have in your circle).

The analogy that best describes this process is one of driving and gears: think of the question/issue as the car and the answers (colours) as gears.  You will need to utilise all the gears just not at the same time!  All journeys require you to go through the gearbox to get from A to B to avoid avoidable damage to the car. So see this as a journey everyone is on and if necessary, go through the gears more than once.


This technique is simple, portable, practical and embeds tried and tested learning which has been used by NASA and 5 yr olds alike.  It is swift compared to alternatives for osmosis, or for better learning from mistakes.  It has been proven to produce 5x the improvements on any issue than that of other approaches as it shifts individuals from ego (competitive types!) to the true performance of deeper thinking.


In parallel, face to face, real time and place, it produces the best results.

If used occasionally, it can “teach” people to make the fast switch into different hat thinking when needed and the use of a single hat process can also prompt very sharp changes of team thinking indeed.  When you can switch between thinking with ease and in an almost automated manner, you may consider that you’ve passed your driving test 🙂

Systematic application is useful in setting the agenda for the session.  There is a programme of hats to go through sequentially and the sequence can either be chosen as an evolving process, i.e. choose the next hat when finishing with the preceding one (takes skilled and familiar facilitation to manage the flow as there is no right sequence and this is more open and difficult to control); or  a preset sequence can be adopted, identified beforehand.  This is easier to manage if you are less familiar with the technique.

THURSDAY THOUGHTS! continues as a theme, so stay tuned to my weekly question.  Please keep checking back and join in as often as you can.  It’s good to talk!

See you next week, broom broom!

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Sharon Davidson
Organisational development professional specialising in personal, team and whole organisation improvement. Full range of OD tools and techniques available including: Belbin team role analysis; learning style inventories; 360 degree feedback; cultural assessments; personality psychometrics; strategic planning and workshop facilitation. (This list is not exhaustive!)

Improvement is everyone's concern: +44 1550 720902 will start that process today.

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