What are the six thinking hats?

The “six thinking hats” refer to a decision-making approach that enables product/service development teams to safely pursue strategies/initiatives/activities that encompass overcoming significant risk to achieve a substantial product/service-centered improvement objective.

Context of the Six Thinking Hats

Whenever an improvement-curtailing product/service-related problem/issue/obstacle manifests on a product development roadmap, a product/service development team typically has to choose from multiple equally-viable solutions.

In this product/service development scenario, an improvement task force must balance exercising too much caution and being overly optimistic when deciding which solution represents the best possible path to resolving an improvement-related problem/issue/obstacle.

In this context, the six thinking hats ensure a product/service development team perceives a product/service problem from a comprehensive, all-encompassing, and unbiased perspective. In this manner, the task force can effectively mitigate solution-associated risks to optimize improvement-centric outcomes.

Applying the Six Thinking Hats

In terms of application, the six thinking hats embody six different ways of thinking about a product/service-related problem, i.e., six different ways of looking at an improvement-inhibiting product/service-related problem, issue, or obstacle. The six thinking hats in this decision-making approach are:

Blue Hat

The first mode of thinking entails defining the scope of the problem, i.e., what needs to be done to overcome the product/service-related problem/issue/obstacle. Teams typically list down the context of the various differing opinions on the most effective improvement-centric solution.

Red Hat

With the red thinking hat on, a product/service improvement team explores the worst-case scenario resulting from implementing the wrong solution. Team members can express their feelings and instincts concerning expected solution-specific risks and possible adverse product/service improvement outcomes.

Green Hat

In green hat thinking mode, a product/service development team comes up with solutions for an improvement-encumbering product/service problem/issue/obstacle, e.g., combining different viable solutions into a hybrid improvement-centric product/service strategy.

Yellow Hat

While in yellow hat thinking mode, product/service improvement teams define the ideal improvement-focused outcome that developers can achieve from pursuing the perfect solution. They determine the optimal improvement outcome arising from the best solution to a product/service-related problem.

Black Hat

In black hat mode, an improvement task force methodically assesses the extent of risk associated with each viable solution to a product/service-related problem. Team members are free to criticize possible solutions proposed by other team members.

White Hat

While thinking in white hat mode, a product/service development team gathers actionable information on every imaginable aspect of an improvement-averting problem/issue/obstacle. Teams strive not to overlook any part of the problem that could lead to a workable solution.

Once a product/service improvement team uses all six thinking modes (i.e., hats) to identify viable solutions, solution-specific associated risks, and projected improvement-centric outcomes, it is then easy to choose the best solution path – a solution with mitigated risk and an optimal product/service improvement outcome.

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