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What is the Six Thinking Hats model?

Posted by Chris Adams

Article Rating // 98409 Views // 0 Additional Answers & Comments

Categories: Business Analysis, Systems Analysis, Requirements Analysis (BABOK KA), Analytical and Problem Solving Skills, General


The Six Thinking Hats is a role-playing model presented by Edward de Bono in 1986.  It serves as a team-based problem solving and brainstorming technique that can be used to explore problems and solutions and uncover ideas and options that might otherwise be overlooked by a homogeneously thinking group.

The basic premise hinges upon the idea that most people think and reason in a specific way based on their personality type.  This means that a more emotional person may generate ideas differently than a more analytical person, and vice-versa. Similarly a pessimist will approach a situation very differently than an optimist. 

Edward de Bono identified 6 types of one-dimensional personalities or “Thinking Hats”.  While the average person will often imbue qualities from several of these 6 types, the goal of the Six Thinking Hat model is to assign each member of the team a different, one-dimensional “Thinking Hat” for the duration of the problem solving or brainstorming session.

The 6 types or “Thinking Hats” are:

White Hat: analytical, objective thinking, with an emphasis on facts and feasibility. (How to remember White Hat - The color white is often associated with purity. Similarly the White Hat has a clean perspective that is unadulterated by emotion or subjectivity.)

Red Hat: emotional thinking, subjective feelings, perception, and opinion.  (How to remember Red Hat - Red is the color of rage and emotion.  Red Hat allows emotion and subjectivity to dominate.)

Black Hat: critical, skeptical, focused on risks, and identifying problems.  (How to remember Black Hat - Black, the color of gloom and pessimism.  The Black Hat is the skeptic, and pessimist looking for the problems in everything.)

Yellow Hat: optimistic, speculative, best-case scenario. (How to remember Yellow Hat - Yellow Hat is the sunny one.  They are happy and have a positive outlook on things, always expecting the best outcome.)

Blue Hat: structured thinking, high-level overview of the situation, the big picture. (How to remember Blue Hat - Blue is the color of the sky.  Imagine the Blue Hat person has a 20,000 foot perspective on this.  They can see everything from a distance and get the big picture view.)

Green Hat: creative, associative thinking, new ideas, brainstorming, out-of-the-box. (How to remember Green Hat - Green is the color of nature as capture by the artist.  The Green Hat is creative and generates lots of new ideas without concern for feasibility.)

Since each member is assigned a single hat you don’t have to remember the characteristics of them all, only the hat which is assigned to you.  With 6 team members working together from their one-dimensional point of view, problems and solutions can be worked and dissected from 6 very different perspectives leading to well thought out conclusions. 

Chris Adams
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Do your homework prior to the business analysis interview!

Having an idea of the type of questions you might be asked during a business analyst interview will not only give you confidence but it will also help you to formulate your thoughts and to be better prepared to answer the interview questions you might get during the interview for a business analyst position.  Of course, just memorizing a list of business analyst interview questions will not make you a great business analyst but it might just help you get that next job.



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