Six Hats Brainstorming Framework
Updated: Aug 20
Have you ever been in a meeting where you’re trying to get a group of people to come up with ideas, solve problems, or make an action plan? Sometimes in these meetings it’s impossible to make progress because everyone is coming from a different mindset so it feels like everyone is speaking different languages.
This is where the Six Hats brainstorming framework can be helpful. In the Six Hats framework, basically the group clearly focuses on one specific point of view at a time. This allows for more steady progress and better results.
In the framework there are six different points of view – six different hats that the group rotates through. Here are the six hats along with questions that may accompany each hat.
The White hat focuses on facts and information. It gathers data that is objective and does not include opinions or judgements. With this hat, be careful to include only objective information without any emotion attached to it.
What information do we have about the issue? (Data, statistics, reports, etc.) What does it tell us? What information do we lack?
What information would we like to have?
How are we going to get that information?
The green hat is all about creativity and innovation. Extreme ideas should be pursued even if they seem crazy or impossible. No idea should be judged under this hat.
Is there a completely new way we could do this? What about approaching the issue from the opposite viewpoint? Are there any alternatives we haven’t considered yet?
The Red hat is all about emotion. You can freely share your feelings and opinions about the topic without any hard data backing it up. You can also use empathy to imagine how other people feel about the topic. So, share your feelings and the feelings of other people.
How do I feel about this? What is your best guess about a solution? What do you think someone else will feel about this?
The black hat focuses on logic and critical judgement. It analyses the issue based on problems, dangers, and what may not work. Critical thinking is essential here.
Why might this not work? What is a weakness about this idea?
How can we prove this idea wrong?
The yellow hat is positive and optimistic (hopeful). It emphasizes the benefit and value of a certain solution. Even if there is some risk or unknown, it focuses on the potential as long as it is logical.
What are the good points of the idea? What are the parts of the idea with most potential?
The blue hat is mostly worn by the facilitator of the group. The facilitator uses the blue hat to summarize and use logic to organize a productive process and ending to the meeting.
How can we summarize this idea? Does anyone else have something to share? Does anyone want to move to another hat at this time?
The Six Hats framework helps a scattered group get on the same page and focus together. Each hat has its strengths and weaknesses and can be revisited at any point in the process. It’s up to the facilitator to make sure that all participants can share their perspectives and that the six hats are utilized as thoroughly as possible.
In the end, the facilitator and the group should have a clearer understanding of the issue at hand or the solutions that are possible.
Here's an example of what this framework might look like when brainstorming solutions to climate change. This is an example from our classes here at Bridge Beyond English.
White hat – Name the problems we face and obvious existing solutions
Green hat – Think of wildly creative solutions to climate change
Personal, your workplace, global
Why don’t people use existing solutions? (psychological)
How could we make climate change worse?
Associate words with topic – easy - hard, expensive - cheap, funny - serious, or other words…
How could we collaborate with neighbors?
How could we adjust our shopping habits?
(Remember, crazy ideas are great!)
Red hat – Share from an emotional / empathetic perspective.
How do you really feel?
How do most people actually feel?
Black hat – Honestly critique the ideas shared so far. What are their weak points, etc.?
Yellow hat – Think positively
What are the best ideas?
Even if difficult, what ideas would be most impactful?
Blue hat – The facilitator will help wrap up the best ideas in conclusion with action plan
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