A recent interaction with someone left me feeling a little helpless and sad. This person has decided to invest money he can ill afford into a project that to me seems inherently doomed to fail.  He was highly enthusiastic about it and even tried to get me to invest in it. No amount of reasoning and logic on my part could make him see why this was something he needed to get out of fast, before it sucked him dry. All I can do is hope that he comes to his sense sooner rather than later.

This interaction got me thinking about the process of decision making and how we are often not trained to do it. I’m sure you’ve heard of Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats. In case you haven’t bothered to find out more, I’m sure it’s  because  you thought it was some management mumbo jumbo. Since it is  a highly useful decision making tool, I decided to simplify it and see how it can apply to our lives.

When we encounter a problem or a situation that calls for a decision we tend to take one based on certain perspective. For example, while a lawyer might decide something from a very rational viewpoint,  an artist might decide something from a creative or intuitive one.  Six Thinking Hats encourages us to move out of our habitual thinking style and look at the situation from various perspectives.

Six_Thinking_HatsSix Thinking Hats calls for you to put on all six hats in the process of decision making:

Putting on the Blue Hat you decide how you are going to go about this process of decision making and also set out an action plan. This is the first and last step of the Six Hat Thinking process.  At the start of the process you say, “Okay, what sequence shall I follow to make this decision….?” “I’ll wear the Yellow Hat first….”.  At the end of the process, “Right, so now, have I looked at this with all the other hats on? ….”I’ve come to the conclusion that this is what I need to do based on………”

When you wear the  White Hat you gather all the data, facts, information that is  known or needed to come to your decision. You say, “I need to study the company’s balance sheets to decide to invest……..”  “I need to meet Mr X and Mr Y and get their opinion…….”.

When you don the Yellow Hat you have a very optimistic outlook. You look for the value and benefits of your decision and all the possible positive outcomes of it. You say, “If I decide to do this, then I will be able to get ……..”  and “I will certainly see a change for the better in my lifestyle……”

Wearing the Black Hat encourages you to exercise caution. It helps you to look at all the possible problems and difficulties your decision might lead to and helps identify potential areas of failure.  You think, “What if this project does not take off …….?” “How much money will I lose if the company goes bankrupt?”.

Under the Red Hat you allow your  feelings, intution, gut instinct, and hunches to play a part in decision making. You feel, “Something just doesn’t feel right” or “I know it doesn’t make complete sense, but I feel this is the best course of action” are thoughts that occur to you.

The Green Hat  encourages you to get creative and look for  alternatives, solutions, new ideas and possibilities. You say, “Let me think of another way of solving this problem” and “Let me brainstorm all possible ways of ….”  “I’ll start looking at alternative actions….”

Six Thinking Hats is just one of the many decision making tools available to us. In time, I’ll share with you some more that I’m familiar with.

What is the process you use to make decisions? Do you tend to wear only one hat all the time? 

I’m linking in to The Writer’s Post Thursday Blog Hop. This week’s host is the charming Jenn Duffy-Pearson – a lady who wears many hats with grace!

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