Six Thinking Hats – Edward de Bono



What’s this book about?

This book has been classed in the genres of psychology/business.  It presents a workflow to be used in thinking through problems using 6 distinct stages, or putting on 6 different “types of hats”, in an effort to maximise the use of your/your groups intelligence and experience.

The book emphasises how thinking/thought process is a skill and can be learned, trained and improved.

More info on the authors website:

My summary

“The biggest enemy of thinking is complexity, which leads to confusion”

The 6 hats remove the complexity of the thought process.

The hats indicate a direction of thinking, and as such should be referred to by their colour and not function.  The colour refers to ideas and thoughts, NOT people.

Human beings cannot think in more than one direction at the same time, so these hats help to focus the brain in one direction, before moving onto the next.  This helps to go around the natural biases of the brain and not could thought with emotion, judgement and ego.

The 6 hats method allows one to:

  1. Think in one direction at a time
  2. Switch between different directions of thinking when necessary

The 6 hats are to be used one at a time and in a sequence.  Note that not all hats need to be used and the sequence can be pre-set (best if you’re trying it for the first few times) or evolutionary.

It may be worth noting, that in a group scenario, controlling the amount of time per hat may be useful, to ensure the discussion remains objective.  You can always come back to another hat.


 The WHITE Hat

  • Neutral and Objective
    • Based on Facts, verifiable figures, opinions
    • Facts can be proven or unchecked
  • Questions (e.g.):
    • What info do we need? What info do we have?
  • Cue: Paper (i.e. Information Only)

The RED Hat

  • Emotional
    • NEVER justify them
    • Rage, anger, suspicion, hunches, intuition, GUT
  • Questions (e.g.):
    • How do I feel about this? How do I feel now I’ve resolved….?
  • Cue: Fire (e.g Warmth)


  • Serious; Sombre; Skeptic
    • Questions EVERYTHING
    • Survivalist, cautious, careful
    • Points out weaknesses
    • Questions values and ethics
  • Questions (e.g.):
    • Are the facts correct? Is that the only course of action? What are the risks?
  • Cue: rock (i.e. resilient, slow changing)


  • Positive, Optimistic
    • Sees the good
    • Value Sensitive
      • Puts a value on good ideas
    • Displays hope LOGICALLY, i.e will still need to result in value
  • Questions (e.g.):
    • What if?
    • What are the positive aspects?
  • Cue: The Sun (i.e. bright)

 The GREEN Hat

  • Growth
    • Creativity, explores possibilities, forward thinking, change
    • Seeks out provocations
    • New ideas
      • modify or improve
  • Questions (e.g.):
    • What are the alternatives? What does the future hold?
  • Cue: The Grass (i.e. vegetation, abundant, blooming)

The BLUE Hat

  • Control/Organisation
    • Facilitation
    • This is a permanent “role” in a though process, it ensures structure is maintained in the thought process
  • Questions (e.g.)
    • What is to be achieved?
    • What “hats” are yet to be considered? or revisited?
  • Cue: The sky (i.e. Overview, above all)


Where can you get the book?

I read the hard copy, purchased from Amazon.  As there are no visual aspects in the book, I would also recommend listening to it as an audiobook.

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