I have summarised the six hats here and used my own imagination to produce my own version of how I like to think of the six hats:
1) White hat-Data
Here you are gathering the facts. Often facts are from the past, but with the internet one can often get up to date news on a topic also.
2) Red hat–Instinct, gut feeling, emotions about subject
Science fiction probably says this best: “trust your feelings.”
3) Black Hat–Look for faults, flaws, barriers, hazards, risks, things that might go wrong, opposition, mismatches, false information, be defensive, be cautious.
While this sort of negative thinking might not seem beneficial at first, one can see that once the process is done a project will be more resilient and tougher to damage or criticise. So this type of fault-finding does in fact have real benefits because it puts you into:
- a problem solving state of mind
- state of being ready to counter any opposition or alternative arguments
- mode of understanding all the risks and hazards the project might encounter
- mode of correcting mistakes and errors before they become a real problem
- judgmental mood, deciding if the project is viable and worth going ahead with
- Project planning mode lets you see barriers before they appear and prevent unnecessary delays, forks in direction, or derailing to the project work
I like to think about black hat thinking as similar to being a detective. You already suspect that something foul has occurred and you are investigating to gather the clues. Being a detective for your project means that you assume there is something wrong and you are trying to track it down the evidence of it.
4) Yellow Hat–the gold hat, it is a hat of optimism, to keep going in adverse situations because you believe in your project. This way of thinking analyzes all the positive aspects of a project and its strengths.
I think space exploration is full of opportunities and typifies both huge challenges and huge benefits that could be possible. We must think of the positive reasons for space exploration or otherwise the serious challenges would have stopped us from exploring space altogether.
6) Green Hat: Freewheeling way of thinking, creativity, brainstorming, new way of thinking, thinking about the “what if” questions, and identifying new possibilities:
This type of thinking is becoming more common as we face tools (usually computer-based) that are general in nature and there can be several technological solutions to a problem.
Creativity is like magic to me.
5) Blue Hat–Process controller
This is the hat that oversees it all. If this were a meeting situation, then a chairman would let each participant put on the blue hat and listen to what they had to say and then think of the overall aims of the project and how it should be moved forward to some destination.
This hat views the process as having a start and end. This hat defines:
- how to get to those objectives
- Where the team or project is currently at
- Where the team or project actually seems to be going
- redefines objectives as required
I like to think of an explorer looking at a map and using their compass to navigate around the lands. Of course we live in a modern age when exploring the land takes on an entirely new perspective.
Blue hat thinking does not only concern itself with the process but also the dynamics of the participants. For example: “does everyone agree?”
If you are the one wearing all the hats then such a test of agreement would be indicated in places where you find different hats lead to different directions for example. Thus everyone does not agree.
Blue hat thinking also allows you to examine the people who might be involved in the project and how their personalities and personal aims will affect the overall project. This is not exactly the same as black hat thinking because it is not focused on the project but rather the particular people involved in the project.
The project itself might have different stages were some hats are more important than others or when a hat must be given to others (for example: customer feedback).