December 18, 2012 by eimrick
I recently had lunch with Bill Morgan (http://www.morganbenefits.com/bill.html) and he shared with me this useful tool that was created by Edward de Bono in his book ‘6 Thinking Hats‘ for leading meetings.
This is an area that I’m continually wanting to grow in because there are few more frustrating things than meetings that last multiple hours and have little to no direction. This tool is one strategy in leading a meeting to ensure effectiveness.
You can use Six Thinking Hats in meetings or on your own. In meetings it has the benefit of blocking the confrontations that happen when people with different thinking styles discuss the same problem.
Each ‘Thinking Hat’ is a different style of thinking. Take a look at how these ideas take shape and how each “Hat” is used.
White Hat: With this thinking hat you focus solely on the raw data available. Jim Collins would say “face the brutal facts”. After looking at all the facts write down or share everything that you observe to be true. This is not the time for opinion, just data. Look for the gaps that might be in what you know to be true. Try also to write down everything you don’t know.
This hat is a great tool for learning from past successes and failures.
Red Hat: This hat is about the gut reaction, intuition or what it might cause you to feel. All facts and data might say something, but what does your gut say? When using this cap, think about what kind of emotional reaction it might cause in the people you lead. Major changes might be a good idea, but using this hat allows you to be more sensitive to how it might affect those you lead.
Black Hat: Using this hat intentionally forces you to be a cynic. Why might this idea not work? What could be the holes? What would cause failure? Optimistic people tend to overlook the obstacles or challenges that decisions might make. Be intentional about thinking of consequences. Those who utilize this technique will often be ahead of the curve. It allows you and your team to not only anticipate struggles, but shows a proactive plan to address them when they indeed come.
Yellow Hat: This allows is for thinking positively, and describes a picture of a preferred future. If this idea or plan is implemented with excellence, what could be the results? What would be ideal? How would it benefit the people you serve or the church you work at?
Green Hat: The Green Hat stands for creativity. This is a form of “spaghetti flinging”. No idea is a bad one because bad ideas could lead to amazing ones. This is a fun part of the process, but everyone needs to understand the purpose of this process because there could really be some wacky ideas. It can also be a fun process to track back and see where a final idea had its origin. You might be surprised.
Blue Hat: The Blue Hat is for the team leader/facilitator. Someone needs to chair the meeting. If too much time is spent on the yellow hat, green hat, black hat, etc, the person wearing the blue hat moves the meeting to places he/she feels it needs to go.
A youth ministry team is working on designing a ministry venue at an offsite location. Here might be how the decide to use the 6 hats to help them move forward.
Looking at the problem with the White Hat, you analyze the data you have. Begin looking at the location, the cost, the maintenance, proximity to your target schools, etc. Gather all the costs, create spreadsheets of statistics, and prepare a fact sheet to present to supervisors.
With Red Hat thinking, your team has a common gut level reaction to the whole plan. How does it make you “feel”? Sure, the data might support something else, but what does your intuition tell you? Will the offsite location really accomplish our objectives set forth?
When you think with the Black Hat, you begin to talk about things such as the state of the churches economy. What happens when tithing is down? Sure, you’re doing well economically right now, but when the church inevitably goes through the tougher financial times, are you creating something sustainable? What might be the obstacles to making this a viable ministry venue?
If the church continues to exceed budget, how might this really have an impact on the families in the community? Share openly about the value that this facility would bring to people’s lives. What could you do to really make things successful? What would an ideal picture of the venue be? What would make this successful if everything could work exactly how you want? Share dreams of what given nights would look like at the facility.
With Green Hat thinking your team starts brainstorming innovative ways to market to kids and families. You start designing the inside of your facility for greatest effectiveness. Dream about different programming and opportunities that could present and get really excited about the possibilities. Have fun with this! Think outside of the box!
The Blue Hat has been utilized by the team leader. His/Her task is to keep the team focused on the goals of the moment while navigating intentionally through each “hat”. This person is setting the course of the meeting and wrapping that productive meeting up.
There are other strategies for leading team meetings. What do you like best about this one? What do you do?