How to Solve Problems Using the Six Thinking Hats

Stanley Arnold

Every problem contains within itself the seeds of its own solution.


There is a Purpose Behind Every Problem

When life suddenly throws us a curve ball, things can get rather overwhelming and ridiculously frustrating in the blink of an eye. Being unable to deal with these challenges puts us at a disadvantage and sabotages our growth and development.

What if our problems are simply there just to test our resolve, maturity and ability to think within an unforgiving world? I guess most people will never really see it that way. Instead they will simply frown upon unfortunate circumstances — seeing them as unlucky events that have no purpose or meaning. Yet the reality is, that the exact opposite is true.

Every problem you experience has a purpose and message for you. It’s there to help you grow as a person; it’s there to help you become more effective and efficient in your daily undertakings, and it’s there to see you through to the next pebble stone along your journey towards success.

Yes indeed, having the ability to think more effectively about the problems that confront our daily lives, will help us to proactively control the circumstances that can ravage our emotions and send us down a spiral of ever increasing frustration.

It has been said, that it’s not what happens to us that matters, it is rather how we respond to what happens that makes all the difference.

Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hat system will help you to take control of your life once and for all. Through practice and a systematic implementation of this process, you will never feel the need to give up searching for an ideal solution to your problems or circumstances.

Within the Six Thinking Hats system, we will first introduce you to the Blue Managerial hat whose primary role is to manage and direct the thinking process.

Next you will meet the White Neutral hat whose role is to collect facts, data, stats and concrete information that lay the groundwork and foundations for your thinking.

Afterwards you will shake hands with the Red Intuitive hat who will use its feelings of intuition to find appropriate solutions to the problems you face.

The fourth hat you will meet is the Black Pessimistic hat. The black hat is frowned upon because of it’s negative approach. However, it is one of the most important hats as it will help you to better understand the pitfalls of your thinking.

Afterwards you will be introduced to the Black hat’s opposite: the Yellow Optimistic hat. This hat’s role is to logically present positive plans of action that will help you overcome the problems confronting your reality.

Finally, you will meet the Green Creative hat whose role is to bend the rules, to think outside-the-box and expand the possibilities of the improbable in unique ways. The Green hat will help you to come up with brilliant creative solutions — opening the doors to new opportunities and avenues of thinking.

This interpretation of the Six Thinking Hat system is specifically targeted towards the personal problem solver (not group oriented) who struggles with life’s daily challenges. However, please keep in mind that each Thinking Hat can also be used in another context related to academics, life, career and business.

The key is to take these guidelines and proactively use them in ways that will best suit your predicament and circumstances.

This article post is part of the Effective Thinking series of IQ Matrix maps that are designed to help you successfully deal with the problems and challenges confronting your reality. Topics within this series include:

• Part 1: Strategic Questions
• Part 2: Creative Thinking
• Part 3: Problem Solving
• Part 4: Critical Thinking
• Part 5: Six Thinking Hats


The Managerial Blue Hat Thinker

An effective problem solver has to have a means of managing and directing their thought process in a proactive way. Likewise, they must have a way of processing and guiding each of their thoughts in a neutral and unbiased manner that’s focused on improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the process.

Within this section we will discuss each of the characteristics and attributes that give birth to the Blue Thinking Hat. We will delve into the roles, goals and objectives of a blue hat thinker, concluding a set of questions that will help you to think more managerially about your daily life problems and circumstances.

Role

The metaphorical role of the blue hat is the Movie Director.

A movie director manages actors, cameramen, shooting angles, props, scripts and other factors that are critical to creating a successful blockbuster movie experience.

In exactly the same way a blue hat manages the thinking process allowing for better synergy between the thought patterns and habits of the other thinking hats.

Let’s take a look at some of the blue hat’s key roles in a little more detail:

Think about Thinking

The primary role of the blue hat is to think about the process of thinking.

Every thought that it has is focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the thinking process that filters through the other five hats. The smoother, faster and more proficient this process becomes, the greater the possibility that an effective solution to the problem can be found.

Define the Problem

The blue hat must clearly define the problem under question in writing. If you fail to define the problem clearly and meticulously, then you will waste precious time directing your energies on irrelevant thoughts and activities that only lead to dead-ends and promises of better answers.

Gather Global Perspective About Problem and Solution

The blue hat is very much removed from the problem and its associated solutions. It rather sits back and plays the role of a court judge, who oversees the facts, arguments and opinions of every hat from a global perspective. It then uses these insights to decide on a suitable plan of action that will help nullify this problem and set the course for a brighter destination.

Manage Other Hats

The blue hat plays the part of a manager looking after the subordinates under its care. Within this role, the blue hat helps to improve the flow of communication between all the hats, thereby encouraging better insights and ideas that will bring about ideal solutions to the problem at hand.

Manage Time

The blue hat understands the importance of time and how critical it is to the effective management of the problem solving process. As a result the blue hat plays the role of the timekeeper, by allocating specific chunks of time to the other hats and to specific topics that are necessary to bring about effective solutions to the problem at hand.

The blue hat is consciously aware at all times that time is precious and should be spent wisely on areas that will bring about the highest thinking returns to help overcome a problem successfully.

Manage Flow of Ideas

The blue hat’s role is to manage the flow of ideas between the hats with the greatest of efficiency.

The blue hat must successfully piece together all of these scattered thoughts and grow them into something that will bring about an ideal solution to the problem at hand.

Each thinking hat has a set of unique ideas, approaches and perspectives. The blue hat must merge these unique thoughts in a constructive way, otherwise the thought process will stumble and stagnate in the face of adversity.

Manage Implementation of Ideas

Unique and creative ideas are wonderful, however unless we find a means of integrating them into our physical reality, then we will simply fail to grasp the opportunities that are being presented before us. For this very reason, the blue hat’s final role is to manage the implementation of ideas by bringing them forth into the world in the most effective and efficient way.

Objectives

Throughout the problem solving process, the blue hat has a set of predefined objectives that it seeks to accomplish. By successfully attaining these goals, it is better able to synchronize it’s habitual thought patterns with the other thinking hats, thereby leading to a more efficient and effective process of thinking that brings to light a greater array of solutions and opportunities.

Let’s take a look at each of these objectives in a little more detail:

Improve Efficiency and Effectiveness of Thinking

The blue hat’s primary objective is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the thinking process. The better it is able to manage the thinking of the other hats, the more proficient it will become with identifying key ideas and insights that could be critical for the problem solving process.

Formulate Suitable Questions to Direct Thinking

The blue hat understands that asking the right kinds of questions of each thinking hat will lead to ideal answers and insightful solutions, thusly helping you overcome your problems more effectively.

The blue hat must be clever in its approach to questioning. It must thoroughly understand how to profoundly stimulate the thinking process of each thinking hat in a way that will expand the possibilities of reality, while minimizing the personal biases and limitations that each hat brings into the problem solving process.

To Determine Agenda, Rules, Goals and Tasks

One of the blue hat’s primary goals is to set an agenda for the thinking, to settle on the rules of the discussion, and to effectively set tasks and objectives that will persistently drive the thinking process forward towards an ideal solution to the problem at hand.

To Organize Ideas and Plans of Action

Finally the blue hat must collate all the ideas and thoughts brought forward by the other thinking hats, and formulate them together into an effective plan of action that will put an end to the problem that is confronting your reality.

The more thoroughly it is able to piece together these dispersed thoughts and ideas, the more ammunition it will have to bring these plans to fruition.

Blue Thinking Hat - 6 Thinking Hats

Questions to Ask Yourself

Here is a list of questions that will help you think more effectively about your daily life problems and circumstances from a blue hat’s perspective.

Keep in mind that this list of questions is only a starting point that will help guide you in the right direction. Additional questions that you formulate by yourself should take into account each of the roles and objectives that are critical to the mindset of a blue hat thinker.

What problem am I facing?

How can I best define this problem?

What is my goal and outcome?

What do I seek to achieve by solving this problem?

What is the most effective method of proceeding from this position?

How can I best organize and arrange my thinking to help move me beyond my present circumstances?


The Neutral White Hat Thinker

An effective problem solver has to have a means of collecting, collating, organizing and presenting information in a neutral and unbiased way. Likewise they must have a method of reaching effective logical solutions based on the hard facts and data they have collected.

Within this section we will discuss each of the characteristics and attributes that give birth to the White Thinking Hat. We will delve into the roles, goals and objectives of a white hat thinker, concluding with a set of questions that will help you to think more neutrally about your daily life problems and circumstances.

Role

The metaphorical role of the white hat is The Detective.

A detective searches for clues, for evidence and for facts that will help them to effectively solve the case they are working on. They thoroughly understand that a piece of evidence may not be all it seems on the surface. Hence they are neutral and don’t jump to quick conclusions before all the facts and pieces of evidence have been put into their proper perspective.

In exactly the same way a white hat collects facts, stats and data that help it piece together the information it needs to reach logical fact-based solutions to the problems confronting your reality.

Let’s take a look at some of the white hat’s key roles in a little more detail:

Symbolic Roles

The primary role of the white hat is to objectively collate and present facts, stats, data and information in a way that will enable the other thinking hats to expand their thinking and awareness about the problem under question.

Roles Must Avoid

Throughout the thinking process the white hat must at all costs avoid making conclusions or judgments about the information it is collecting and presenting.

Objectives

Throughout the problem solving process, the white hat has a set of predefined objectives that it seeks to accomplish. By successfully attaining these goals, it is better able to synchronize it’s habitual thought patterns with the other thinking hats, thereby leading to a more efficient and effective process of thinking that brings to light a greater array of solutions and opportunities.

Let’s take a look at each of these objectives in a little more detail:

Exposition of Stats and Facts

The white hat’s primary objective is to collect and collate relevant facts, stats, pieces of information and data about the problem that will help open new avenues to potential solutions.

These facts are based on questions that are focused on the What? Where? When? and How?

Seeking Facts over Opinions and Beliefs

The white hat seeks facts over everything else.

In the realm of white hat thinking there are no beliefs or opinions, there are just solid concrete facts and evidence that unveils the problem in all its glory.

Bringing to Light Gaps in Knowledge

Through its exposition of key facts, the white hat often unlocks important pieces of information and gaps in our knowledge about the problem and the possible solutions that may lie ahead as we work towards our desired outcomes.

Bringing Forth Possible Logical Solutions

Based on the facts, stats, information and data that the white hat has collected, its objective is now to bring forth a set of logical neutral solutions that will help stimulate the thinking processes of the other hats.

This concrete information will now become the basis for the reflective thinking that is about to take place.

White Thinking Hat - 6 Thinking Hats

Questions to Ask Yourself

Here is a list of questions that will help you think more effectively about your daily life problems and circumstances from a white hat’s perspective.

Keep in mind that this list of questions is only a starting point that will help guide you in the right direction. Additional questions that you formulate by yourself should take into account each of the roles and objectives that are critical to the mindset of a white hat thinker.

Please note: that the first two questions are based on the facts, stats and data that you already have on hand.

What do I know about this problem?

What don’t I know about this problem?

What can I learn from this problem?

What more would I like to learn about this problem?

How will I go about acquiring the facts, stats and data that will help me resolve this problem?

What potential solutions exist based on the facts, stats and data that I have collected?


The Intuitive Red Hat Thinker

An effective problem solver has to have a means of intuitively making sense of the problems confronting their everyday reality, including an awareness of the possible solutions that could lead them down the path of unbridled opportunity. Moreover they must have a way of effectively filtering out any preconceived biases that may sway their intuitive feelings and opinions.

Within this section we will discuss each of the characteristics and attributes that give birth to the Red Thinking Hat. We will delve into the roles, goals and objectives of a red hat thinker, concluding with a set of questions that will help you to think more intuitively about your daily life problems and circumstances.

Role

The metaphorical role of the red hat is The Heart.

A heart is a very intuitive organ that senses subtle changes in feeling and emotion when circumstances present themselves.

In exactly the same way a red hat brings forward its intuitive feelings and emotions to help guide and provide direction to possible solutions and opportunities.

Let’s take a look at some of the red hat’s key roles in a little more detail:

Symbolic Roles

The primary role of the red hat is to emotionally and intuitively present effective solutions and direction for further action, based on its personal feelings and hunches.

Roles Must Avoid

Throughout the thinking process the red hat must at all costs avoid rationalizing or trying to justify its feelings about the solutions it is bringing to mind.

Objectives

Throughout the problem solving process, the red hat has a set of predefined objectives that it seeks to accomplish both directly and indirectly. The indirect objectives must be identified by the other thinking hats via the red hat’s subtle unconscious tendencies.

By successfully attaining these goals, it is better able to synchronize it’s habitual thought patterns with the other thinking hats, thereby leading to a more efficient and effective process of thinking that brings to light a greater array of solutions and opportunities.

Let’s take a look at each of these objectives in a little more detail:

Seeks Intuitive Proposals

The red hat’s primary objective is to intuitively bring to mind proposals and plans of action based on its personal feelings and hunches.

Our feelings are very interesting and somewhat mysterious chemical processes that stimulate mental activity within the brain. When they are pure and removed from personal emotions and biases, they can lead us in unexpected directions towards solutions we logically never considered were possible.

Seeks Other People’s Feelings

The red hat is very open-minded and seeks to identify and clarify other people’s feelings — relating intuitively to the problem at hand. They fully understand that when someone is completely removed from the problem, that they are likely to bring to mind ideas and suggestions that would normally cloud their everyday judgment and awareness.

Seeks Emotional Point-of-View

The red hat often seeks an emotional understanding of the problem, and therefore brings to mind solutions based on their personal unconscious emotional tendencies.

It’s very important for the other thinking hats to recognize this, as it unveils certain personal biases, hidden emotions, and reactions that may effectively sabotage the problem solving process.

Unveils Hidden Strengths of Ideas

Sometimes ideas and potential solutions to your problems may seem weak and somewhat impractical at first. However, if the red hat intuitively brings to mind a plan of action that it feels must be followed, this naturally draws the other hat’s attention and energy in a new direction that could potentially hold hidden strengths and opportunities not evident on the surface.

By giving this new idea its deserved attention, you are now expanding possibilities that you may never have considered before.

Unveils Hidden Weaknesses

The red hat’s intuitive feelings may also unveil hidden weaknesses in ideas, in people, and in yourself.

For instance, if the red hat intuitively supports an unpopular solution, then this effectively raises a red flag, and forces the other hats to think differently about the potential ideas laid out on the table.

All this brings to question that maybe some solutions aren’t as clearcut as they seem? Or maybe better contingency plans need to be set in place?

Another important point to consider is that the red hat’s intuitive feelings may in fact bring to mind personal weaknesses in terms of skills and knowledge that you may need to develop within yourself in order to deal with this problem more effectively.

For instance, if the red hat’s feelings are pointing away from a popular solution, then this could very well indicate that you don’t have enough resources, or you simply lack some sort of understanding to fully make this solution work for you.

Unveils Hidden Internal Conflicts

The red hat is as human as all the other thinking hats. Its natural tendencies and decisions may therefore indirectly reveal subtle internal conflicts that boil up within its psyche. These conflicts can affect the red hat’s hunches and could essentially lead to biased feedback that may sabotage the problem solving process.

It is of primary importance that the blue hat spots these tendencies and sets on a course of effective questioning tactics that will help the other hats bring these conflicts to the surface.

Red Thinking Hat - 6 Thinking Hats

Questions to Ask Yourself

Here is a list of questions that will help you think more effectively about your daily life problems and circumstances from a red hat’s perspective.

Keep in mind that this list of questions is only a starting point that will help guide you in the right direction. Additional questions that you formulate by yourself should take into account each of the roles and objectives that are critical to the mindset of a red hat thinker.

What is my gut telling me about this solution?

What are my feelings telling me about the choice I am about to make?

Based on my feelings, is there a better way to go about this?

Intuitively, is this the right solution to this problem?


The Pessimistic Black Hat Thinker

An effective problem solver has to have a means of proactively identifying the pitfalls, dangers and flaws of potential solutions. Moreover they must have a way of presenting this information in an unemotional and detached manner that isn’t riddled with preconceived ideas or biased opinions.

Within this section we will discuss each of the characteristics and attributes that give birth to the Black Thinking Hat. We will delve into the roles, goals and objectives of a black hat thinker, concluding with a set of questions that will help you to think more realistically and critically about your daily life problems and circumstances.

Role

The metaphorical role of the black hat is The Reaper.

A Reaper is a mythical creature who brings death and destruction to the living. Yet at the same time the Reaper is an unemotional entity displaying no fear or love to the contrary.

The Reaper isn’t necessarily good or evil, it just-is what it is. It’s nature is dark and gloomy, however as with everything in life, it has a purpose and plays a critical role in the cycle of life.

In exactly the same way a black hat is pessimistic and gloomy in nature, always seeking to pinpoint holes, flaws, weaknesses and dangers within ideas. It doesn’t do this to be spiteful or destructive, but rather to bring forth scenarios that will better help the other hats build suitable contingency plans for the possible problems that may lie ahead on the foggy road towards a solution.

Let’s take a look at some of the black hat’s key roles in a little more detail:

Symbolic Roles

The primary role of the black ht is to evaluate, judge, caution and criticize the solutions and plans of action that have been brought to light by the other thinking hats.

Roles Must Avoid

Throughout the thinking process the black hat must at all costs avoid bringing to mind personal biases that are built upon fear, jealousy, anger and other negative emotions that may impede and magnify its critical analysis of the solutions to the problem at hand.

Objectives

Throughout the problem solving process, the black hat has a set of predefined objectives that it seeks to accomplish.

By successfully attaining these goals, it is better able to synchronize it’s habitual thought patterns with the other thinking hats, thereby leading to a more efficient and effective process of thinking that brings to light a greater array of solutions and opportunities.

Let’s take a look at each of these objectives in a little more detail:

Consideration of Possible Flaws and Dangers

The black hat’s primary direct purpose is to unveil all the possible flaws and dangers that could sabotage the goals and outcomes you are wanting to achieve.

Every solution you come up with may seem wonderful, soft, comforting and cozy on the surface. However, that is only its external appearance. The reality of the matter is that within its interior it could hold dark dangers and secrets that if left to unchecked may sabotage the solution you are searching for. And this is where the black hat excels and saves the day, by helping you see the fatal flaws of your potential actions before you jump headfirst into the pool filled with deadly sharks lurking under the calm waters.

Consideration of Inadequate Resources

Another important objective of the black hat is to bring to mind a plethora of resources that you simply do not yet have on hand.

These resources could be skills, knowledge, support or time.

If the solution you are aiming for requires key resources that you are sorely lacking, then the black hat will make you aware of these inadequacies.

Elimination of Weaknesses and Bad Ideas

The black hat’s primary indirect objective is to eliminate all weaknesses and ill-thought-through ideas. It does this indirectly through it’s pessimistic and critical nature.

Once these weaknesses have been brought to light, then the spotlight redirects itself onto the yellow hat, whose primary objective is to overcome these weaknesses with logical steps and suggestions.

Bringing to Light Inadequate Contingency Plans

The black hat’s final objective is to bring to mind inadequate contingency plans that seem full-proof from all other thinking hat perspectives.

The black hat constantly and persistently asks itself

How is this likely to fail?

The answers to this question sets the course for inspired yellow and green hat thinking.

Black Thinking Hat - 6 Thinking Hats

Questions to Ask Yourself

Here is a list of questions that will help you think more effectively about your daily life problems and circumstances from a black hat’s perspective.

Keep in mind that this list of questions is only a starting point that will help guide you in the right direction. Additional questions that you formulate by yourself should take into account each of the roles and objectives that are critical to the mindset of a black hat thinker.

What is the fatal flaw within this idea?

What is the drawback to this way of thinking?

How many ways is this likely to fail?

What are the potential risks and consequences associated with this?

Do I have the necessary resources, skills and support to pull this off?


The Optimistic Yellow Hat Thinker

An effective problem solver has to have a means of realistically analyzing problems and bringing to light optimistic ideas that will build momentum towards effective solutions and answers. Moreover they must help strengthen the spirit and resolve of the body and mind to persist despite the myriad of obstacles standing in its way.

Within this section we will discuss each of the characteristics and attributes that give birth to the Yellow Thinking Hat. We will delve into the roles, goals and objectives of a yellow hat thinker, concluding with a set of questions that will help you to think more optimistically about your daily life problems and circumstances.

Role

The metaphorical role of the yellow hat is The Sun.

A sun is bright, happy and powerful, helping to instill life into everything it touches.

In exactly the same way a yellow hat brings forth a positive, welcoming and radiant energy that breathes life into every idea.

The yellow hat seeks positive benefits through a logical means that enhances motivation and opens the doors to new opportunities and understandings.

Let’s take a look at some of the yellow hat’s key roles in a little more detail:

Symbolic Roles

The primary role of the yellow hat is to realistically and optimistically move through the myriad of obstacles that stand in the way of reaching an effective solution.

The yellow hat sees no boundaries or limitations and wholeheartedly believes that if there is a means, then they will find a way — making the impossible, possible.

Roles Must Avoid

Throughout the thinking process the yellow hat must at all costs avoid pessimistic thoughts, and bringing to mind hopeful solutions based on hypothetical facts, feelings and opinions.

Objectives

Throughout the problem solving process, the yellow hat has a set of predefined objectives that it seeks to accomplish.

By successfully attaining these goals, it is better able to synchronize it’s habitual thought patterns with the other thinking hats, thereby leading to a more efficient and effective process of thinking that brings to light a greater array of solutions and opportunities.

Let’s take a look at each of these objectives in a little more detail:

Seeks Curious Benefits

The yellow hat is a curious creature who seeks benefits over everything else.

It sees a problem and brings to mind effective contingency plans and solutions that will help you overcome the challenges you face in the most effective and efficient way.

Seeks Probable Solutions that Lead to Opportunity

The yellow hat’s primary objective is to search for solutions that will lead to a greater array of opportunities to help you overcome your problems more effectively.

It wholeheartedly understands that within every problem there is an equivalent seed of opportunity that is waiting to be discovered. And it is from this perspective that it moves forward with optimism and renewed energy.

Seeks Positive Risk Assessment

The yellow hat logically understands that there are risks associated with every action that is aimed at a solution to your problem. It therefore realistically analyzes the risks associated with these actions and draws up an effective plan that will counteract, minimize and eliminate these risks altogether.

Seeks Feasibility of Ideas

Another primary objective of a yellow hat is to assess the feasibility of ideas based on the resources (skills, knowledge, time and support) you have available at any one moment in time.

It takes these resources into consideration and formulates ideas and a plan of action that will make best use of what you have, while minimizing the effect of what you are lacking within your arsenal.

Strengthen Spirit, Motivation and Resolve

The final objective of the yellow hat is to instill a sense of positive expectation that will move you through the obstacles and challenges you face with greater resolve, spirit, motivation and persistence, which are all critical components to your long-term success in any field of endeavor.

Yellow Thinking Hat - 6 Thinking Hats

Questions to Ask Yourself

Here is a list of questions that will help you think more effectively about your daily life problems and circumstances from a yellow hat’s perspective.

Keep in mind that this list of questions is only a starting point that will help guide you in the right direction. Additional questions that you formulate by yourself should take into account each of the roles and objectives that are critical to the mindset of a yellow hat thinker.

How can I best approach this problem?

How can I logically and realistically make this work?

What positive outcomes could result from this action?

What are the long-term benefits of this action?


The Creative Green Hat Thinker

An effective problem solver has to have a means of processing the problems confronting their reality in an open, flexible and unconstrained way. Moreover, they must encourage possibility thinking that bends the rules and expands reality in a way that is free from judgment and self-criticism.

Within this section we will discuss each of the characteristics and attributes that give birth to the Green Thinking Hat. We will delve into the roles, goals and objectives of a green hat thinker, concluding with a set of questions that will help you to think more creatively about your daily life problems and circumstances.

Role

The metaphorical role of the green hat is The Seedling.

A seedling sprouts from the ground and grows persistently — expanding its leaves and branches in many unexpected directions.

In exactly the same way a green hat instills an ever growing and expanding sense of unpredictability into the thought process.

The green hat isn’t controlled by rules or limitations. It knows and understands that it is free to think beyond the norms and boundaries of reality. As a result it brings forth a myriad of creative and mind-bending ideas that expand the possibilities and bring to light unique and seemingly unexpected solutions.

Let’s take a look at some of the green hat’s key roles in a little more detail:

Symbolic Roles

The primary role of the green hat is to open the doors to unique, creative ideas and perspectives that will shatter the boundaries of reality and open new avenues of understanding about the problem at hand.

Roles Must Avoid

Throughout the thinking process the green hat must at all costs avoid criticizing or judging the ideas that it brings to mind.

Objectives

Throughout the problem solving process, the green hat has a set of predefined objectives that it seeks to accomplish.

By successfully attaining these goals, it is better able to synchronize it’s habitual thought patterns with the other thinking hats, thereby leading to a more efficient and effective process of thinking that brings to light a greater array of solutions and opportunities.

Let’s take a look at each of these objectives in a little more detail:

Expand Thinking and Awareness

The primary role of the green hat is to expand the possibilities of reality in surprising and unexpected ways beyond box-like thinking methods.

It seeks new strategies, tactics and ways of thinking about problems, and twists them in multi-dimensional directions that lead to new insights, answers and understandings about the problem and accompanying solutions that may not have been evident before.

Bend the Rules of Reality

The green hat isn’t constricted or constrained by the standard rules of thinking about a problem. It understands that rules are made to be broken, and so it goes out there with a complete disregard of the rules or guidelines — always thinking, expanding, analyzing, daydreaming and manifesting crazy and wacky ideas that may not initially make any logical sense at all.

It’s not the green hat’s responsibility to live in the logical world, which is what the other thinking hats do very well. It’s responsibility is rather within the realm of fantasy and free-flowing lateral thinking that breaks boundaries and looks beyond the veils of what is perceived within physical reality. And it is this method of thinking that brings to light the most improbable ideas that could very well turn your problems upside down.

Provide Creative Ideas and Solutions

The green hat uses a number of incredibly effective creative problem solving techniques and strategies that help to expand its awareness and understanding of the problems confronting your reality. These techniques bring forth unique ideas and solutions that challenge the other thinking hats in surprising and unpredictable ways — effectively forcing through new insights that may never have been considered before.

Instill New Perspectives

Finally, the green hat’s process of thinking presents the other hats with new perspectives and ways of looking at the problem — and its possible solutions. This successfully breaks down the boundaries of perspective and understanding of the challenges confronting your reality.

Green Thinking Hat - 6 Thinking Hats

Questions to Ask Yourself

Here is a list of questions that will help you think more effectively about your daily life problems and circumstances from a green hat’s perspective.

Keep in mind that this list of questions is only a starting point that will help guide you in the right direction. Additional questions that you formulate by yourself should take into account each of the roles and objectives that are critical to the mindset of a green hat thinker.

What alternative possibilities could exist here?

Could this be done in another way?

How can I look at this problem from a unique perspective?

How can I think outside the box about this?

What if…?


How to Use the Six Thinking Hats

Now that you have a clear and comprehensive understanding of the Six Thinking Hat problem solving thought process, it is important to briefly point out how these hats integrate and work together to formulate solutions and new ideas.

The managerial blue hat (Director) progressively allocates thinking time to each of the six hats including itself. Often the order of thinking would transition in the following way:

  • Blue Hat: Defines and outlines the problem under question and guides the other hats through the thinking process.
  • White Hat: Collects all the facts, data and statistics relevant to the problem. It will then use this information to reach a set of possible logical neutral solutions.
  • Red Hat: Intuitively reflects on the solutions and selects the best course of action based on its feelings and hunches.
  • Black Hat: Pessimistically and realistically confronts the solutions pinpointing holes, dangers, flaws and inadequacies in the proposed plans.
  • Yellow Hat: Looks beyond the black hat’s pessimism and brings to light logical optimistic ideas and plans of action that will help counteract these dangers.
  • Green Hat: Takes solutions and ideas brought forward by the yellow hat and enhances them in a creative, unique and original way that helps ensure that they succeed as planned.
  • Blue Hat: After all hats have had their say, the blue hat continues to circulate between the hats in a logical way. It may for instance focus its attention on the red hat for further intuitive insights based on the green hat’s creative ideas. Or it may ask the white hat to gather more facts and information about the dangers that the black hat brought to mind. After which it may ask the yellow hat to bring forth some logical positive solutions based on this new found knowledge and information.

No matter how the blue hat decides to synchronize the thinking process between the hats, it is important to remember that the blue hat is always seeking to obtain a global perspective and understanding of the problem — helping to bring to light the most ideal solution possible.

By being presently aware of this objective in your mind’s-eye, will help you to cycle through the Six Thinking Hats more effectively.


Edward de Bono Discusses The Six Thinking Hats


Final Thoughts

The Six Thinking Hats are a multi-dimensional tool that will dramatically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your thinking methods.

Whether for problem solving, overcoming challenges, making better business decisions or thinking more effectively about your academic subjects, the Six Thinking Hats will help you find the solutions, answers and opportunities you need to keep you ahead of the game.

Now the choice is yours. You can either just leave your hats hanging there on the coat-hanger collecting dust, or you can consistently and persistently use them to improve the quality of your life.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have had experience utilizing the 6 Thinking Hats in life or business, than please share your experiences in the comments section below.


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Did you gain value from this article? Would you like to keep these concepts at the forefront of your mind? If so, then you might like to download the accompanying mind map reference poster to your iPad, tablet or computer. The map presents you with a quick overview of this article. It’s designed specifically to help improve your memory and recall of this information so that you can better integrate these concepts into your daily thoughts, habits and actions. Your purchase will also go a long way towards supporting the further development of these maps.


Here are three recommended IQ Matrix mind map bundles that explore how to solve life’s toughest problems and challenges, how to think more creatively about those problems, and how to challenge yourself to overcome the greatest of odds that are stacked against you.


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Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:


Six Thinking Hats Problem Solving Model


Adam is a life coach, mind mapper, doodler and visual thinker. He founded IQ Matrix in 2009 and has created over 350 self-growth mind maps. He also has a Free 40 Day How to Doodle Course where he teaches how to doodle using simple daily lessons. Read more about Adam’s story, and how he created the concept for IQ Matrix. Feel free to also get in touch and send Adam a message here.