When we think about ‘creativity’, we often think about someone who can quickly generate new, outside-the-box ideas. This can be thought of as someone wearing a “Green Hat”.
The green hat represents a plant. It gives the abundance and growth view and often ideates on new ideas and directions. This is the typical view of creativity.
However, this often leaves people on a team thinking that creativity belongs to a select few.
Fortunately, psychologist and author Edward de Bono has developed a model of “six thinking hats”. This model puts forth five other ways to be creative, all of which are required for a team to work at full capacity. While the green hat is crucial to the process, without the rest of the hats an invention will never turn into an innovation.
The white hat represents a blank sheet. It gives a neutral view and is concerned with objective facts and figures. By supporting the creative process with data, you can help your team choose between competing for creative ideas.
The red hat represents fire. It gives an intuitive more subjective view and speaks from emotion. If you listen to your gut or think about how an idea will make people feel, the team’s idea will end up connecting more with those it serves.
The black hat represents the judge’s robe. It gives the logical view, often pointing out potential challenges. Rather than being a ‘Debbie Downer’, this person can help creative ideas come to fruition by circumventing these challenges.
The yellow hat represents the sun. It gives an optimistic view and looks for potential benefits. When the going gets tough, this person is crucial to the process, giving a boost to morale and flipping problems on their head.
The blue hat represents the sky. It gives the big picture view often thinking about the process and the use of the other hats. This can be the role of the manager but doesn’t have to be. Anyone on the team can step back and help the team use all of its hats.
Most people have some natural inclinations towards one or two or even more of the hats but will put on another hat based on what their team needs. You can get more comfortable with any hat through practice.
You can find out what hats your teammates wear using the Think Outside The box from Culture Bites, which includes a blank hat for each person and colored pencils to color it in.