Leadership and thinking hats


Edward De Bono invented Six Thinking Hats as a system for managing team dynamics. It’s popularity derives from its apparent simplicity as a means of identifying thinking processes, and the perceived benefits of structuring and sequencing them for more effective outcomes

Recognizing automatic behaviors

I have been intrigued by the links between Lateral Thinking and Systems theorizing for many years, and Edward de Bono himself has briefly acknowledged the cybernetics theorist Stafford Beer [reference welcomed, as Wikipedia might put it].

The work of the great Herbert Simon offers a theoretical rationale of human behaviors in decision making. Faced with the complexity of available information he referred to the process as satisficing,

In his magisterial text, Herbert Simon argued that

Engineering, medicine, business, architecture and painting are concerned not with the necessary but with the contingent – not with how things are but with how they might be – in short, with design.

The original text was claimed to have been written during a long-haul air flight, and made no effort to distract from its central metaphor with more theoretical considerations. However, I have indicated few of the ways in which Lateral Thinking and the Six Thinking Hats approaches can be seen as having links with an information management methodology.

A design for creative thinking

The Thinking Hats approach assumes that individuals have different thinking styles. These can explain difficulties within teams, and the existence of Tuckman’s stages of team forming and storming.

De Bono suggests how these stages can be truncated, by clearer recognition of the thinking styles, and their coordination for greater impact and outputs (decisions, ideas, products).

Survey feedback

Thinking Hats also finds application within a survey-feedback approach supporting personal development and team leadership.

A comparison can be made with the developmental use of Belbin’s team role instrument .

Thinking Hats in Educational Practice

Surfing reveals the use of the methodology in the classroom .

[To be continued]


One Response to Leadership and thinking hats

  1. […] Another structure draws on Edward de Bono’s celebrated Lateral thinking methods, including Six Thinking Hats […]

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