In some way or another, many of us work as part of a team to complete various tasks around the workplace, such as team meetings and group projects. We all know that successful teams are able to listen, participate, and cooperate with one another but we also understand that working with others can be difficult. Have you worked on a team where one person seems to dominate the conversation or not participate at all?  Or your colleague becomes so focused on one idea that they reject any alternative, even if it may better or only wants to argue their point of view?  From different personality types to work ethic, there’s a lot that can stand in our way. There’s a method called Parallel Thinking that has helped thousands of organizations communicate with one another in a more thorough manner. 

What is Parallel Thinking and how can it help? 

Edward de Bono, a renowned psychologist and Oxford University professor, developed a communication and reasoning tool called the Six Thinking Hats® which is based on Parallel Thinking. Dr. de Bono created this technique as an alternative to adversarial or argument based thinking, someone makes a statement and it is challenged instead of explored. “Parallel thinking means that at any moment everyone is looking in the same direction,” de Bono writes in his book Six Thinking Hats®. While argument focuses on “what is,” parallel thinking looks at “what can be.” By looking in the same direction at the same time, the entire team can collaborate on a solution and continuously move the discussion forward, instead of getting mired in debate, resulting in more balanced decision-making. This technique allows us to learn to think better, by allowing us to open up to other people’s points of view, learning to be more flexible, reflective, and original in our reasoning patterns. It will also improve our communication, enhance the quality of our relationships, and make us more productive in the workplace.

So how does this technique work?

The Six Thinking Hats® method serves two main purposes:

  1. Eliminates confusion by focusing the discussion on only one aspect of the topic at a time.
  2. It encourages more expansive thinking from all participants so one person does not get stuck on only focusing on the risk or benefits.

The strategy may seem simple, but the process can have an incredibly positive impact on our brains. Visualize yourself putting on a hat, a very deliberate and intentional act. Now when we’re faced with a problem or have to make a decision, the Six Thinking Hats® allow us to put on the metaphorical hats and operate with a specific framework and vision. Thus allowing us to proactively make a decision.

The Six Thinking Hats®

The Blue Hat – The Conductor’s Hat

Is objective, thinks about and manages the thinking process. Sets the agenda, focus and sequence, ensures the guidelines are observed and ask for summaries, conclusions, decision, and plans of action. 

The White Hat – The Factual Hat

Is unbiased, neutral, and focuses on the information. What information do you have, what information do you need, and where will you get it?

The Black Hat – The Judge’s Hat

Is cautious and identifies risk.  It is used for critical judgement and must give the logical reasons for concerns. One of the most powerful hats.

The Green Hat – The Creative Hat

Is Creative. Creates, thinks, and generates new ideas, alternatives, possibilities, and new concepts.

The Red Hat – The Hat for the Heart

Is passionate. Uses intuition and feelings. Invites feeling without justification. 

The Yellow Hat – The Optimist’s Hat

Is positive. It looks for the benefits, values, and positive view of things.

The Six Thinking Hats® is a fantastic technique to streamline business communications. If you’re ready to increase productivity, engage people and reduce conflict, call us today!