August 2016

Six Ways to Improve your Problem Solving 

Every day we are faced with making decisions; some are easy and quick and others are difficult and time-consuming.  For those decisions that require deep thinking, it’s helpful to use a simple systematic methodology that not only saves time, but also ensures you have thoroughly examined the situation.  I first learned Edward DeBono’s powerfully simple tool the “Six Thinking Hats” in 2000 and share it with others as a critical thinking method.

The idea is that thinking can be conducted in a way that more fully explores topics employing formal techniques based on the brain’s behavior.  What makes thinking difficult is the conflicting thoughts of our heart (emotions), our head (logic and information), and our soul (hope and creativity).  “Six Thinking Hats” provides a way for us to separate these thoughts and then focus on one thinking mode at a time.  These modes are represented by six different hats.


Six Thinking Hats:
  1. Yellow Hat:  Listing the benefits, pros, and good reasons to support ideas and actions
  2. Green Hat:  Brainstorming ideas, creating alternatives, and thinking “outside the box”
  3. Red Hat:  Listening to and expressing your intuition, feelings, and what your gut says
  4. Blue Hat:  Summarizing, organizing, and facilitating the thinking styles and outcome
  5. Black Hat:  Pointing out risks, cons, and concerns to apply cautious thinking
  6. White Hat:  Understanding data, facts, and figures in a neutral and objective manner
Many of us have “default” hats that we tend to wear most often; for example, I prefer the yellow, green, and white hats.  Because we may wear only a few hats automatically, this technique encourages us to examine all sides of an issue by trying on all six hats, one at a time.


This critical thinking tool is easy to remember and apply to your own thoughts as well with others’ thoughts, especially during problem-solving meetings.
Contact us if you’re interested in helping your team come to decisions more quickly and solve problems thoroughly.  We will come to your company to teach and demonstrate critical thinking and problem-solving techniques.
Image by iStock, at Morguefile