6 Thinking Hats

4 min read

Six Thinking Hats is a system designed by Edward de Bono which describes a tool for group discussion and individual thinking involving six colored hats. "Six Thinking Hats" and the associated idea parallel thinking provide a means for groups to plan thinking processes in a detailed and cohesive way, and in doing so to think together more effectively. (Source)

This talk was presented at 15x4 Munich. Slides.

# Lateral Thinking

The term lateral thinking was coined by Edward De Bono. Lateral thinking is about thinking ‘out of the box’. It is about ideas that might not be obtainable by step-by-step logic. There are four critical factors linked with it.

They are:

  • Recognise dominant ideas that polarise perception of a problem
  • Searching for different ways of looking at things,
  • Relaxation of rigid control of thinking
  • Use of chance to encourage other ideas.

This last factor has to do with the fact that lateral thinking involves low-probability ideas which are unlikely to occur in the normal course of events.

Example: In 2004, the organising committee for 2007’s NDP in Singapore was asked to build a stadium to hold it because the National Stadium was going to be torn down. The location was to be at Marina Bay. Most people thought that they would build a stadium. Realising that a key feature of Marina Bay was the bay and the water itself, they decided after much discussion to build the floating platform instead. This example shows us how normal people like us can get ideas unlike that of others. It shows us that anyone can think pout of the box. (Source)

# Lesson in Lateral Thinking: The Tale Of Two Pebbles

Many years ago in a small Indian village, a farmer had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a village moneylender. The moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the farmer’s beautiful daughter. So he proposed a bargain.

He said he would forgo the farmer’s debt if he could marry his daughter. Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. So the cunning money-lender suggested that they let providence decide the matter. He told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty money bag. Then the girl would have to pick one pebble from the bag.

  1. If she picked the black pebble, she would become his wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven.
  2. If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father’s debt would still be forgiven.
  3. If she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.

They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the farmer’s field. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick a pebble from the bag. Now, imagine that you were standing in the field. What would you have done if you were the girl? If you had to advise her, what would you have told her?

Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:

  1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.
  2. The girl should know that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the money-lender as a cheat.
  3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and imprisonment. Take a moment to ponder this. The above story is used with the hope that it will make us appreciate the difference between Lateral Thinking and logical thinking. The girl’s dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking. Think of the consequences if she chooses the above logical answers. (Source)

What would you recommend that the girl do?