Thinking hats from De Bono

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Thinking hats by De Bono ( English Six Thinking Hats ) is a creativity technique introduced by Edward de Bono in 1986 . It is a tool for group discussions and individual thinking. It contains six different colored "hats". Parallel thinking linked to this method is intended to make thought processes more efficient, especially in groups.


A starting point of the method is the assumption that the brain thinks in different ways, which can be consciously controlled and thus can be used in a discussion at certain times. De Bono assumes that communication difficulties arise if, for example, one person is expressing their feelings about something and then another approaches the problem analytically.

The individual hats stand for

  • blue: organizing, moderating thinking: overview of the processes ('big picture': the blue sky)
  • white: analytical thinking: concentration on facts, requirements and how they can be achieved ( objective : the white sheet)
  • red: emotional thinking, feeling: concentration on feelings and opinions ( subjective : fire and warmth)
  • black: critical thinking: risk assessment, communicating problems, skepticism, criticism and fears (critical: illusion, advocatus diaboli )
  • yellow: optimistic thinking: what is the best-case scenario ( speculative : sunshine)
  • green: creative, associative thinking: new ideas, creativity ( constructive : growth)

This methodology is based on the parallel thinking developed by de Bono . This means that when working on a task, everyone involved always wears the same hat color and changes hats together, thus thinking in parallel. This avoids conflicts and still takes all positions into account. De Bono himself describes the six thinking hats as a method for improving communication in a group.


In a moderated discussion, the moderator can, for example, ask the participants: “Now I would like to have a few green contributions.” In an unmoderated discussion, the participants announce the type of their contribution by choosing the color: “I will now put on my blue hat and strike a short break before. "

Benefits, strengths and weaknesses

The thinking hats use the human ability to adjust. Since all participants play a role, more differentiated discussions are possible than if each participant is "himself". This gain in openness is partly bought through theatrical behavior, as the roles are often presented in an exaggerated manner. The distribution of roles is intended to ensure that as many modes of thinking as possible can be taken into account for a decision. Upstream exercises should ensure that the topic is understood sufficiently deeply.

As with most group techniques, moderation is recommended. Particularly when group members differ greatly in temperament and orientation (introverted, extroverted), perspectives could be overemphasized because the role is overrepresented.

See also


  • Edward de Bono: Six Thinking Hats . Penguin Books, London et al. 1990, ISBN 0-14-013784-X ( Penguin psychology business ).
  • Edward de Bono: The six-color thinking. A new training model . Econ, Düsseldorf 1989, ISBN 3-612-23013-1 .

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