Edward de Bono’s Thinking Strategies


Edward de Bono’s book, six Thinking Hats was released in 1985. De Bono soon became widely known for his development of a range of thinking strategies designed to develop lateral thinking. A quick talk be de Bono here explains his ideas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb9Oe83ruUw.   His aim was to develop a range of thinking strategies to complement traditional approaches to logical thinking and so help thinkers uncover new ways of solving problems. Perhaps most widely used in schools, these strategies can also be employed in any other decision-making space. De Bono was hoping to teach thinking routines that could be used systematically and deliberately to develop innovative responses.

The Six Thinking Hats approach, for example, involved the deliberate adaptation of a particular point of view in exploring a situation or problem.

The Six Thinking Hats (or modes)


The White Hat

The White Hat calls for information known or needed. The individual (or student) wearing this metaphorical hat should focus on brainstorming the focus questions that need to be answered to achieve success.


The Red Hat

The Red Hat signifies feelings, hunches and intuition. The individual (or student) wearing this metaphorical hat should focus on calling upon ‘gut thinking’ and guesses that ‘feel right’.


The Black Hat

The Black Hat is judgment -- the devil's advocate or why something may not work. The individual (or student) wearing this metaphorical hat should focus upon identifying possible obstacles and criticisms that stand in the way of a solution. This focus should also identify  on negative consequences.


The Yellow Hat

The Yellow Hat symbolizes brightness and optimism. Unlike the Black hat, the individual (or student) wearing this metaphorical hat should focus on identifying the positive consequences and the advantages of plans, as well as situations which might enhance projects.


The Green Hat

The Green Hat focuses on creativity: the possibilities, alternatives and new ideas. Like the yellow hat, the individual (or student) wearing this metaphorical hat should focus on generating as many creative possibilities as they can. This is the most innovative focus, and brainstorming should consider as many possibilities as possible.


The Blue Hat

The Blue Hat is used to manage the thinking process. The individual (or student) wearing this metaphorical hat should identify whether the team needs to apply any particular metacognitive approaches to succeed. They should also monitor the way individuals are employing their hats (for example, ensuring the Green Hat does not reject possibilities).


In addition to the Six Thinking Hats, de Bono has developed a range of other Thinking Routine worthwhile for problem solving. Next week’s blog will consider his CoRT Strategies.


By Sue Burvill-Shaw

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