Creative Productivity & The Creative Theorists- Part 2, deBono

How can we turn our imaginations into productive creativity?  How can we use the arts to activate others imaginations and help facilitate the transform of them into creative productivity?

In my post Imagination, Creativity and Productivity I mentioned a long list of creative theorists who each have developed their own methodology for helping individuals and teams transform their imaginations into productive creativity. How can their ideas be applied, or further illuminate through an art form? In my post on October 10th I explored Min Basadur’s Creative Problem Solving Profile. In today’s post I will explore Edward deBono’s Six Thinking Hats.

About Edward deBonoEdward de Bono

Edward deBono, founder of The deBono Group,  is a leading authority in the field of creative thinking, innovation and the direct teaching of thinking as a skill.  Dr. de Bono holds an MA in psychology and physiology from Oxford, as well as a D. Phil (a research degree) in Medicine as well as a Ph.D. from Cambridge. He has held faculty appointments at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, London and Harvard.  His instruction in thinking has been utilized by IBM, Prudential, Microsoft, Chick-Fil-A, BP,  Nokia, Siemens, Bosch, Quaker, Ericsson,  and many others.

Dr. deBono is also the founder of the World Academy of New Thinking™ (WANT).  ‘New Thinking’ means new perceptions, fresh alternatives, a change of emphasis and the generation and design of new concepts and ideas. The role of this Academy is specifically concerned with new thinking in conflict resolution, problem solving, economic development, education, health and most areas effecting daily life.

Dr. deBono has written over 70 book. Here is a partial list of books he has written:  New Think, Mechanism of Mind, Six Thinking Hats, Lateral Thinking, Serious Creativity, I Am Right-You Are Wrong, Parallel Thinking, Conflicts-A Better Way to Resolve Them, Water Logic, Simplicity, Teaching Thinking, New Thinking for the New Millennium, PO: A Device for Successful Thinking, and Future Positive.

Six Thinking Hats & The Parallel Thinking Process

In 1999 Edward deBono developed a creativity technique designed to facilitate the shifting of focused thought for creative thinking and innovation to emerge. A process, which he calls  Six Thinking Hats®,  is a parallel thinking process. Parallel Thinking®, also developed by deBono, is where each thinker puts forward his or her thoughts in parallel with the thoughts of others; without attacking the thoughts of others.

After all, when A and B come together, each with an idea, its normal for each to want to judge, or debate, the merits of the other persons idea.  Its human nature for it to be difficult for A and B to stand side by side and allow their ideas to remain parallel to each other, without comparison, synthesis or judgment, so each can be fully explored. The reason for this is because argument is the basis of what most consider normal thinking. The purest form of this type of thinking comes from our courts of law where the prosecution takes one side of the argument and the defense the other side. Each strives to prove the other side wrong. The “truth” is to be reached by argument.

While there is a place for argument, and while argument is a useful tool of thinking, argument is inadequate as the main and only tool of thinking. Argument lacks constructive energies, design energies, and creative energies. Pointing out faults may lead to some improvement but does not construct something new. Equally synthesizing both points of view does not produce a stream of new alternatives. As such, traditional argument is totally useless to construct an innovative design process. To begin to do this, according to de Bono, we must separate out all of the different aspects of our thinking about an idea.

So how do we do this?

Think of full-color printing. When the basic color separations are made, each basic color is printed separately onto the same sheet to give us full-color printing. In the same way, when we separate the modes of our thinking and then apply each mode to the same subject, we end up with full-color thinking on the subject.

With deBono’s Six Thinking Hat Method the thinker can separate their thinking into six clear functions and roles.  For example, if the thinker metaphorically puts on the yellow hat, he or she may turn up new ideas which may cause the thinker to change his or her mind about the value of the idea. Likewise, when asked to think about the idea wearing a black hat a thinker who began as a euphoric supporter for it may discover difficulties that reduce their euphoria. Each thinking role is identified with a colored symbolic “thinking hat.” below.

white hat The White Hat calls for information known or needed. “The facts, just the facts.” The white hat represents neutral and objective thinking, and is concerned with facts and information.
yellow hat The Yellow Hat symbolizes brightness and optimism. Under this hat you explore the positives and probe for value and benefit.The yellow hat represents sunny and positive thinking, and is concerned with what has worked in the past.
black hat The Black Hat is judgment or why something may not work. Spot the difficulties and dangers; where things might go wrong. Probably the most powerful and useful of the Hats but a problem if overused.The black hat represents careful and cautious thinking, and is sometimes referred to as the “devil’s advocate” hat.
red hat The Red Hat signifies feelings, hunches and intuition. When using this hat you can express emotions and feelings and share fears, likes, dislikes, loves, and hates.The red hat represents the emotional view, which never has to be justified.
green hat The Green Hat focuses on creativity; the possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas. It’s an opportunity to express new concepts and new perceptions.The green hat is associated with creativity and new ideas.
blue hat The Blue Hat is used to manage the thinking process. It’s the control mechanism that ensures the Six Thinking Hats® guidelines are observed.The blue hat represents the orchestration of the multi-hat thinking process.

Today in business, as elsewhere, there is a huge need to be constructive and creative. There is a need to solve problems and to open up opportunities. There is a need to design new possibilities, not just to argue between two existing possibilities. deBono’s Six Hats method allows for all sides of an issue to be fully explored. Adversarial confrontation is replaced by a cooperative exploration of the subject allowing for ideas to become creative productivity.

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