Introduction to de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats

For an activity or tool based approach to team brainstorming and decision-making, the “Six Thinking Hats” method, developed by Dr. Edward de Bono, stands out as a revolutionary and structured technique. This approach not only enhances group creativity and collaboration but also streamlines the thinking process, making it faster and more focused. The method is detailed in de Bono’s book, Six Thinking Hats, and has since been widely adopted across various industries to optimize problem-solving sessions and meetings.

What Are the Six Thinking Hats?

The Six Thinking Hats method introduces six distinct perspectives, each represented by a colored hat. By metaphorically switching hats, participants can shift their way of thinking, enabling them to explore different aspects of a problem or decision. This method reduces conflicts among team members, as it separates ego from performance. Here’s a breakdown of what each hat represents:

1. White Hat: Facts & Information

Wearing the White Hat, participants focus solely on data available, looking at what information is known, what is needed, and how it can be obtained. This hat is crucial for laying the groundwork of factual evidence.

2. Red Hat: Emotions and Feelings

The Red Hat allows the expression of emotions and intuitions without justification. This perspective is essential for understanding the emotional responses to the subject at hand, which can be vital for gauging the morale and reception of a decision.

3. Black Hat: Caution and Critical Judgement

Engaging the Black Hat, individuals consider the potential negative outcomes. This is where logical judgment and caution are used to foresee obstacles and risks, making it a critical phase for evaluating the viability of ideas or decisions.

4. Yellow Hat: Optimism and Positive View

The Yellow Hat enables a positive viewpoint that helps to identify the value and benefits of different ideas. It involves a constructive and optimistic approach, which is essential for motivating and building confidence among team members.

5. Green Hat: Creativity and New Ideas

Donning the Green Hat, participants explore alternatives and creative ideas. This is the time for thinking outside the box, looking for new solutions, and pushing the boundaries of standard thinking patterns.

6. Blue Hat: Control and Organization

The Blue Hat stands for control and organization of the thinking process. The person wearing this hat is responsible for managing the overall session, ensuring that guidelines are followed, and providing a summary of outcomes and next steps.

Benefits of Using Six Thinking Hats

The Six Thinking Hats method offers several benefits:

  • Encourages Full-Spectrum Thinking: By systematically exploring different perspectives, teams can make well-rounded decisions.
  • Saves Time: Reduces the length of meetings by directing focus and minimizing the circular arguments often seen in group discussions.
  • Reduces Conflict: By removing personal and emotional context, discussions become more objective and productive.
  • Enhances Creativity: Specifically encourages creative thinking through the Green Hat, fostering innovative solutions that might not emerge through standard discussion formats.

Applying Six Thinking Hats in Brainstorming Sessions

To effectively use the Six Thinking Hats in a brainstorming session, follow these steps:

  1. Identify the Topic: Clearly define the problem or decision to be discussed.
  2. Assign Roles: Depending on the group size, assign hats to different members or have members switch hats throughout the session.
  3. Set Time Limits: Allocate a specific time for each hat to keep the session on track.
  4. Document Outcomes: Capture the key points from each hat’s perspective to ensure all views are considered in the final decision.


The Six Thinking Hats technique by Edward de Bono is a powerful tool for enhancing group creativity and decision-making. By structuring the way we think, not only can we increase efficiency and reduce conflict, but we also foster a conducive environment for generating innovative solutions. Whether you’re tackling everyday problems or major organizational decisions, the Six Thinking Hats method provides a clear path for exploring every angle and unleashing the full potential of collaborative thinking.

Want to go deeper and learn other innovation tools? Contact us if you are interested in an ideation workshop or brainstorming training for your team.

Six Thinking Hats Activity