Change Theory: 6 Thinking Hats Theory


Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats tool is a powerful change process technique and is used
to look at different points of view or lens to aid change management. This provides a team orientated and more rounded view of a situation and more effective group thinking.  The processes involve a detailed and cohesive way to drive thinking processes to work together more effectively (De Bono, 1985).

6 Thinking Hats

Each hat is a different colour and represents a different style of thinking:

  • White Hat – facts, figures, and objective information.
  • Red Hat – emotions, feelings, hunches, intuition.
  • Black Hat – logical negative thoughts, “devil’s advocate,” why something will not work.
  • Yellow Hat – logical constructive thoughts, positive aspects of why something will work.
  • Green Hat – creativity, generating new ideas, provocative thoughts, lateral thinking.
  • Blue Hat – control of the other hats, thinking about the thinking process, directs attention to
    other hats to facilitate “mapmaking” thinking” (Carl, 1996).

This provides “parallel thinking” where all the team members are focusing on the problem and a collaborative approach ensues.

Practical Tips 

  1. “The meeting may start with everyone assuming the Blue hat to discuss how the meeting will be conducted and to develop the goals and objectives.
  2. The discussion may then move to Red hat thinking in order to collect opinions and reactions to the problem. This phase may also be used to develop constraints for the actual solution such as who will be affected by the problem and/or solutions.
  3. Next the discussion may move to the (Yellow then) Green hat in order to generate ideas and possible solutions.
  4. Next the discussion may move between White hat thinking as part of developing information and Black hat thinking to develop criticisms of the solution set.

Because everyone is focused on a particular approach at any one time, the group tends to be more collaborative than if one person is reacting emotionally (Red hat) while another person is trying to be objective (White hat) and still another person is being critical of the points which emerge from the discussion (Black hat). The hats aid individuals in addressing problems from a variety of angles, and focus individuals on deficiencies in the way that they approach problem solving” (Wikipedia, 2017).

Some useful handout resources:


De Bono, E. (2017)

De Bono, E. (1999). Six thinking hats (Vol. 192). New York: Back Bay Books.

De Bono, E. (1985). Six Thinking Hats: An essential approach to business management. Little, Brown, & Company, New York, USA.

Carl III, W. J. (1996). Six Thinking Hats: Argumentativeness and Response to Thinking Model.

NHS ACT Academy. Six Thinking Hats.

Wikipedia (2017) Six Thinking Hats.