🎩 Six Thinking Hats (Edward De Bono) – Book Summary, Notes and Highlights

🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. Creativity thinking can be directed, be it in a group or as an individual.
  2. Lateral thinking and ideation work on the MOVING FORWARD mindset, not by JUDGMENT.
  3. Implementing an idea is not A > B, It is more of A > B > C > D > E > F

🎨 Impressions

At first, I assumed that this book will teach you a method that works in a certain kind of situation, but I was wrong. This book gives you a framework that can work in almost every situation — Decision making, creative thinking, ideation, brainstorming or managing ideas, and much more.

I even thought that there would be a rigid framework that you need to go through while using the method, but that is not the case. You can use 2 hats in a combination, that complements each other.

The best thing I find about this book is, it gives you the freedom to explore your ideas and run wild with them even after adding constraints, the constraints only act as shapers and have no restrictions on your work.

Who Should Read It?

I think this book should be read by anyone who needs to take creative decisions on a regular basis. If you have an interest in creativity in any sort of way or you manage a team of creatives, you should stop reading this summary and jump on to read the book itself.

On the other hand, if you think you are not creative but are inclined towards problem-solving, business or solopreneurship, and entrepreneurship, you should still read this book. It will show you how you can direct your creativity in a certain way that ideas just sort of happen without you trying to formulate them.

It’s about 170 pages long, so you can go through the whole thing in about a week at most. So there is no reason not to read this book.

☘️ How the Book Changed Me

  • It gave me a frame of reference for the phenomenon of creativity.
  • I got several creative and profound ideas just while reading the book a certain way because of the way it is structured.
  • I feel like I can use this book as an underlying framework to build digital products and systems that can be monetized, theories that can be turned into thought leadership posts, and add emotions to the framework of logical creativity.

✍️ My Top 5 Quotes

  • A description is concerned with what has happened. A direction is concerned with what is going to happen.
  • Getting people to “play the game” is a very powerful form of changing behavior.
  • Truth and Facts are not as closely related as most people seem to imagine. Truth is related to a word-game system known as Philosophy. Facts are related to checkable experience.
  • Thinking can change emotions. It is not the logical part of thinking that changes emotions but the perceptual part.
  • Those who believe that progress arises from the analysis of information and steps of logical deduction are totally wrong. Without the framework of possibilities, we cannot even see the information in new ways.

📒 Summary + Notes

The Six Thinking Hats is a brilliant system that is meant to solve the problems of traditional argumentative thinking and turn them into parallel thinking. Where Arguments don’t breed any constructive outcomes, it inflates the ego. Since it is based mostly on the “What is” which is determined by analysis, judgment and argument.

But six thinking hats work on the premise of “What can be” which involves constructive thinking, creative thinking, and designing a way forward.

A thinking system based on arguments works best if you want to make a case for only one side of a situation. This would be a description.

A description is concerned with what has happened. A direction is concerned with what is going to happen.

But in the world of business and ideation, it becomes extremely important to look at the direction we need to go instead of the description that we have been given. We only use that description to know where we are and build on it with the six-thinking hats method.

The entire system of SIX HATS THINKING is based on Parallel thinking. And…

the whole point of parallel thinking is that the experience and intelligence of everyone should be used in each direction.

It gives people the chance to show off their brains and intellectuality But more than that this type of showing off is of a more constructive kind, ego doesn’t get involved here. Because the ego is no longer tied to being right.

There is an old saying — Two minds are better than one. This method gives you the framework to put that profound phrase into action.

The focusing of the mental ability of many people on a problem can more easily solve that problem.

We set up systems because we want to avoid confusion, as confused as the biggest enemy of good thinking.

To go through the motions of the Six Hat Method, you need to realize that these hats are not meant to categorize a person, they are only used as behavior models.

Here are the six thinking hats

  • White hat: neutral and objective, only concerned with collecting and organizing facts and figures
  • Red Hat: the emotional view, only concerned with the “feel” of the idea in the mind
  • Black Hat: looking for caution and being careful, only concerned with being “the devil’s advocate.”
  • Yellow Hat: look at the positive side, only concerned with optimism.
  • Green Hat: associated with growth, creativity, and new ideas, only concerned with thinking of ideas that may be applicable.
  • Blue Hat: the color of the sky, above everything else – the organizer’s hat, only concerned with directing the thinking process, documenting all results, and summarizing them in a non-biased way.

Usually, the blue hat thinker is considered the director of the process — they start and end the thinking program and only prompt others with their use of the hats, they do not participate in the thinking process, only monitor it.

Another thing to keep in mind is to not use any hat for more than a couple of minutes, nobody is supposed to wear one single hat through the entirety of the session.

Some personal favorite concepts from the book:

Japanese Style Input – the point is that no one puts forward ideas that are readymade. Information is offered in a white hat manner, which is slowly organized into an idea. The Japanese notion is that ideas emerge as seedlings and are then nurtured and allowed to grow into shape. (much like a bonsai.)

Truth and Facts are not as closely related as most people seem to imagine. Truth is related to a word-game system known as Philosophy. Facts are related to checkable experience.

Logic has to move from one absolute truth to another – “if this is true… then this follows…” it is the design and manipulation of such definition that is the essence of philosophy.

But white-hat thinking is only concerned with usable information. So the “by and large” and “on the whole” idioms are perfectly acceptable. It is the purpose of statistics to give these rather vague idioms some specificity. But it is not always possible to collect such stats, so we often have to use the two-tier system of belief and checked facts.

Example: … By and large corporations that base their spending on extrapolated future sales run into trouble (it is possible to point to a few companies that have done this and been successful.)

… If you work hard, you will be successful in life. (A lot of hard-working people are not particularly successful.)

The spectrum of such likelihood can be expressed as follows:

  • Always true
  • Usually true
  • Generally true
  • By and Large
  • More often than not
  • About half the time
  • Often
  • Sometimes true
  • Occasionally true
  • Been known to happen
  • Never true
  • Cannot be true (contradictory)

This can be used in framing information. For example, it can be useful to know things that happen only very occasionally.

… Measles is usually harmless, but it can sometimes be followed by secondary infections.

… In very rare cases inoculation can be followed by encephalitis.

There is merit in knowing such sort of information.

The traditional view is that emotions muck up thinking. But when we use thinking to make a map, our choice of route is determined by values and emotions. Emotions give relevance to thinking and fit that thinking to our needs and the context of the moment.

There are 3 points at which emotions affect thinking

  • A strong background emotion such as fear, anger, hatred, suspicion, jealousy or love. This background limits and colors all perceptions.
  • Emotion triggered by initial perception (first impression.) You perceive yourself to have been insulted by someone and thereafter your whole thinking about that person is colored by this feeling. You perceive something to be an advertisement and thereafter withhold belief. we are very quick to make these snap judgments and become locked into the emotions they release.
  • After a map of the situation has been put together. Because emotions include a great deal of self-interest.

Thinking can change emotion. It is not the logical part of thinking that changes emotions but the perceptual part.

it is not always possible to provide the perception that can alter or evaporate emotion. But it is always worth a try. Emotions are often used to establish bargaining positions, which is why the principle of variable value is at the base of negotiations. So it is generally agreed upon that the purpose of thinking is to satisfy the thinker and his expressed emotions.

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