6 Thinking Hats: How to Think in the Same Direction

Ever heard of a ‘clearing process’?

It’s one of those things that should be taught in school.

Two people have a ‘charge’ between them: resentment, conflict, different points of view, etc.

And in comes the ‘clearing process’ 👉 a systematic ‘clearing’ of the charge between them.

They start with the data, free of emotion, and move through the process to the point where the person who has the charge, owns the charge.

They own that their charge is a reflection of themselves — some unmet need or past trauma.


Ed de Bono created a simple thinking process that prevents charges from coming up in the first place.

It’s called 6 Thinking Hats.

Each of the 6 hats makes space for different types of thinking.

Like a game, everyone puts on 6 hats and thinks in parallel:

6 thinking hats: white hat

🎩 White Hat 🎩

White hat is like a blank piece of paper. You use it to collect information, data, facts, rumours, and opinion.

6 thinking hats: red hat

🎩 Red Hat 🎩

Now that you have the information, each person can imbue it with emotion 👉 Feelings, hunches, and intuition.

6 thinking hats: black hat

🎩 Black Hat 🎩

The black hat is what many people default to (and overuse): criticism and judgment.

(Black for the judge’s robe)

Think risk assessment and caution.

6 thinking hats: yellow hat

🎩 Yellow Hat 🎩

With criticism out of the way, everyone can look for the upside: benefits and values.

It’s harder than the black hat. Pointing out what’s difficult is easy.

Finding values takes more effort.

6 thinking hats: green hat

🎩 Green Hat 🎩

Now that the upside is grounded in the other ways of thinking (aka reality), it’s time to get creative.

Green hat is about vegetation, growth, and creative ‘branches.’

Alternatives and new ideas.

Most importantly, it’s about possibility.

Ed says, “‘possibility’ may be the most important word in thinking.”

6 thinking hats: blue hat

🎩 Blue Hat 🎩

With the blue hat, I think of sky and altitude.

The ‘high level’ view. The orchestrator. The facilitator.

“The blue hat is the hat for thinking about thinking and managing the thinking process.”

And there you have it: The 6 Thinking Hats.

It’s a dead simple exercise that moves everyone in the same direction.

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