Six Thinking Hats

Published on March 30, 2019 by

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To develop new ideas and rethink the old ones


Six Thinking Hats is a simple yet powerful tool created by Edward De Bono based on the principle of parallel thinking


One Hour


A big sheet of paper, six different coloured hats (one each in green, yellow, black, white, blue and red)


In Small Groups


Someone in the group ‘puts on’ the blue hat to become the session leader. The wearer of the blue hat will then agree with other group members on the most useful order of hats to use, and will coordinate their subsequent use, keeping a check on time. Note that the colours of the hats naturally carry associated connotations and, consequently, opposites: yellow denotes positivity, whilst black is more negative; red is emotion-driven, whilst white is data-driven. In general, if you use one hat, you should also use its opposite for balance. A useful sequence of hats for initial harvesting of ideas could be: green, yellow, black, white, leading to a final red hat assessment of whether the idea should go forward. It is suggested that you initially allocate around 4-5 minutes for each ‘hat’, repeating the sequence if needed. Without the time alert there is a danger that the conversation gets stuck on one area. This encourages the group to ‘try on other hats’ when you have looked at a situation for too long and have become fixed on a specific style/approach. When facing complex situations, which call for reactions of different kinds, it is useful to adopt the full range of different patterns of thinking, one at a time.

DOs and DON’Ts

  • DON’T be afraid to revisit certain hats if you feel further exploration is necessary
  • DO encourage group members to experiment with the hats themselves rather than stick to a set formula
  • DO use the six hats in different orders and combinations, depending on the individual situation
  • DO encourage individuals to use the technique to help generate ideas or make decisions



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