World Creativity and Innovation Week: Use de Bono's Thinking Hats

April 18, 2014 Lana Jelenjev

Today's creativity challenge introduces de Bono's  SIX THINKING HATS, a thinking strategy that is used in schools. The idea of thinking hats was invented by Dr. de Bono in his book 6 Thinking Hats. He believed that our brains have six different ways of looking at things and is a powerful tool that facilitates critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. It is used to encourage children to think about their own thinking (metacognition) and to 'mentally shift gears' to consider different perspectives on a topic. The  system allots a different coloured hat to each of the six ways of looking at things: 

White Hat – Facts and figures. What information do we have, what information is missing and how do we get the information we need?

Red Hat – The emotional view: feelings, hunches, intuition. What’s your gut reaction? How do you feel about this?

Black Hat – The downsides: caution, difficulties, weaknesses, barriers. Is this right? Is it true? Why can’t we do this? What might not work? What are the dangers and risks?

Yellow Hat – The upsides: benefits, values, positive outcomes. Can this be done? How can we do this? What are the benefits? Why should it work?

Green Hat – the creative side: alternatives, out-of-the-box ideas. What additional possibilities are there? What else can we try?

Blue Hat – the organizing view or overview: Manage the thinking process. How should we think about this? Where are we now? What is the next step? What are the summary points? (This is a good starting point or the first hat to put on)

As a summary:

If you wear a white hat you see facts and Information.
If you wear a red hat you see feelings and emotions.
If you wear a black hat you see negative things.
If you wear a yellow hat you see good judgment.
If you wear a green hat you see creativity, new ideas.
If you wear a blue hat you see the big picture.


 To solve a problem, you could pretend to put on different coloured thinking hats to see what clues you could gather to help you find solutions to the problem. The goal is to start with the BLUE HAT to indicate what is the bigger picture by asking "where are we now?", "where have we been?, "what do we need to do?". Next step is to take in a different colour to look at another perspective (i.e. put on a red hat to explore feelings)

You can also use the thinking hats separately given a specific situation and just use a thinking hat for it. For example, when talking to your child about crossing the street, putting on a black thinking hat will give perspectives on the disadvantages of not looking properly and putting on a white hat you can state facts on what needs to be done when crossing the street.

Use the following as a printable to remind you of how the 6 Thinking Hats can be used.




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