6 Hats

6 Hats helps people better use their thinking styles when discussing issues.

Uses of the method

  •  Lateral thinking


  • Improved thinking between participants
  • Valuable method to ensure that all the relevant issues have been considered
  • Systematic, comprehensive and multi-purpose
  • Fast and ultra-low cost
  • Can be used by both individual analysts and teams


  • May be incomplete if not used with other methods or iterations do not go deep enough.

Steps to complete

  • Considering the topic, Insight or Trend consciously adopt the wearing of a hat
    - White Hat: examine your data, fill gaps in your knowledge
    - Red Hat: use emotion and gut feel to understand your own and possible
      responses from other people
    - Black Hat: critique all the potential downsides, flaws and risks
    - Yellow Hat: think positively and creatively about ideas and solutions
    - Green Hat: develop creative solutions without critiquing at this stage
    - Blue Hat: check that the right hat is being worn and that people are focused
      on it
  • Avoid criticizing others ideas or censoring people
  • Listen to and build off of others ideas 
  • Generate lots of ideas and allow the session to free-wheel
  • Don't allow discussion or questioning though light clarification of an idea may be helpful at this stage
  • Sort your ideas into priority order or a logical order
  • Capture your most exciting idea and biggest fear
  • Look for breakthrough innovations, incremental innovations, new venture innovations and new business models 
  • Determine the fixed factors (almost certain hard trends) that will inform your strategic response: slow-changing phenomena e.g. demographic shifts, constrained situations e.g. resource limits, in the pipeline e.g. aging of baby boomers, inevitable collisions e.g. climate change arguments.
  • Capture variable factors: critical uncertainties i.e. variables, soft trends and potential surprises. Both these and the fixed elements will be key to creating scenarios and examining potential future paradigm shifts.
  • Capture unique insight into new ways of seeing that can be utilized by the organization. What are the advantages and disadvantages?
  • What conclusions can we draw from the exercise(s)?
    • How might the future be different?
    • How does A affect B?
    • What is likely to remain the same or change significantly?
    • What are the likely outcomes?
    • What and who will likely shape our future?
    • Where could we be most affected by change?
    • What might we do about it?
    • What don't we know that we need to know?
    • What should we do now, today?
    • Why do we care?
    • When should we aim to meet on this?
  • Finish by noting your next steps. Next steps could include a further round of iteration, a recommendation on how to get the answers or use of other research and methods such as 'Starburst' to create more vantage points on the issue. Repeat the exercise from a different perspective e.g., taking a negative view or an unusual position, or from the viewpoint of another stakeholder. (see the Tear-Down thinking method here).

This method and your response can be shared with other members or kept private using the 'Privacy' field and through the 'Tag', 'Report' and 'Forum' functionalities. Use 'Tag' and/or 'Report' to aggregate your analyzes, or add a 'Forum' to ask others where they agree/disagree and encourage them to make their own analysis from their unique vantage point.

Click the 'Invite’ tab to send invitations to other members or non-members (colleagues, external experts etc.) to ask for their input.

Do run a small test first and ensure your address list is de-duped, with no extraneous characters, mal-formed e-mail addresses etc. and that your text message is correct before sending the final version. Use the back button between the test and the live send to ensure nothing changed between both.

You can decide whether or not you want anonymous responses, but do remember that you will not be able to know who replied or said what.

The replies can be viewed and exported within the Responses tab.

You can export the responses to WebSummarizer which will give you an instant short, full and key topic split of summary responses using text analysis and allow you to display in various MindMaps. Alternatively, you can export to any of your favorite other internal or external analysis services.

If you wish to send various versions of the Invites to different stakeholders, contact us?

Further reference


This thinking method was created by Edward De Bono and described in his book '6 Thinking Hats'.

Contact us
Even with all the advice and tools we have provided here starting a foresight project from scratch can be a daunting prospect to a beginner. Let us know if you need help with this method or want a group facilitation exercise or full project or program carrying out by us. We promise to leave behind more internal knowledgeable people who can expand your initiative for better organizational performance.

Contact us today for a free discussion on your needs.

Are there other enhancements or new methods you would like to see here? Let us know and we will do our best to respond with a solution quickly.

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