Look at decisions from many angles,
with James Manktelow & Amy Carlson.
James Manktelow: Hello. I'm James Manktelow, CEO of MindTools.com, home to hundreds of free career-boosting tools and resources.
Amy Carlson: And I'm Amy Carlson from Mind Tools.
Think back to the last time you had to make a big decision. Chances are, you approached that decision in the same that way you approach all of your decisions.
For instance, if you're an analytical thinker then you probably considered the decision logically. You stuck to the facts, and let them guide your thinking.
If you're more emotional and intuitive, then you probably looked at the problem using your instinct, and went with your gut feeling.
JM: We all look at problems and decisions in different ways.
But when you're making a decision – especially one that's important or challenging – you need to consider that decision from several different perspectives.
This gives you a better look at the problems that you're facing. And it helps you make sure that you don't make a mistake or miss something important.
AC: A useful way of looking at a problem or decision from several perspectives is Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats. This tool is really easy to use – either on your own, or with a team.
The idea of the tool is that you try on different hats, each of which represents a different style of thinking.
And, don't worry. Unless you want to have some harmless fun with your team, these hats are all imaginary!
JM: Start by putting on the white hat. When you have the white hat on, you're going to focus on data. Look closely at the facts and information that you have available.
Next, put on the red hat. When you have the red hat on, you're looking at the problem or decision using your intuition.
What is your gut telling you to do?
AC: Next is the black hat. Here, you get to be as pessimistic as you want.
Look at all of the negatives of this decision, and think about everything that could possibly go wrong or not work.
With the yellow hat on, you're going to turn the tables and look at everything that could go right. Make a list of all the benefits of this decision, and imagine things going smoothly.
JM: Then, put on the green hat. The green hat represents creativity.
Here, you're going to let your imagination run wild. Brainstorm creative solutions to some of the problems you're stuck on.
And, put your inner critic on hold here. Just let your creativity go where it will, and see what happens.
AC: The last hat you're going to try on is the blue hat.
This hat is for process control, and it's the hat you'll put on if you're using the Six Thinking Hats technique with a group.
For instance, your team might need to think creatively, so you'd direct them to put on their green hats to solve the problem.
Or, if the team is focusing too intently on the negative aspects of the decision, you can tell them to put on their yellow hats to look at the problem in a more positive light.
JM: Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats technique is a really useful and effective tool that helps you look at problems and decisions from several different perspectives.
This technique works especially well with a group because it forces everyone to focus on the same perspective.
If you've ever sat through a meeting where people refused to move outside their habitual thinking styles, then you'll see the advantages of using this tool.
You can find out more about the Six Thinking Hats technique in the article that accompanies this video.