You may have read the book by Edward de Bono: Six Thinking Hats. Well, the book’s been around for a few years now, it was published in 1985, so when I took it down from my bookshelf recently, I thought it was perhaps time for an update.
If you have not read the book, or you have but forgotten what it was about, let me give you a re-cap. The book’s premise, like most good ideas, is a simple one. De Bono suggests that the main problem with thinking is the problem of confusion. When we consciously try to think about or around an idea, we tend to think of everything at once. We came at the subject from all sides at once, the result: a blurred image. It’s probably like one of those mock-ups you have seen where they show what something would look like through the eye of a fly. It’s looking at a subject through a compound lens, so you get multiple images projected, and you’re not sure which one(s) you should be focusing on.
With the six hats idea, you do look at the subject from different perspectives, but not all at once. Before we go any further I want to change the name of this exercise into “Six Lenses”. One good reason for eanting to do this is to do with our name: Bright Perspectives. Lenses give you perspective onto a subject……can you see where this is going?
We are all familiar with the idea of a sophisticated camera which has a selection of removable and inter-changeable lenses. Some are best for taking in a wide-angle view – so you can see the whole picture. Others are made to home in and focus on the finer detail of the subject. The different lenses would be used one at a time to view (or think) about whatever subject you are considering, from a variety of perspectives. These would range from looking at the big picture: the creative perspective, joined with emotions and feelings: this would ally with the positive and optimistic perspective. But, you have to look at the possibility of a downside, so there would be a micro lens to look at the facts and figures – do they stack up? And allied with this is the negative or pessimistic lens. What has happened in the past, can it happen in the future.
It does not really matter whether you say you want to wear different “thinking hats” or “viewing lenses”. What does matter is that when you need to do some serious thinking, then you need to step back and think about how you are going to think. This sounds like psychobabble, but the metaphor of using different lenses – or wearing different hats, allows us to slow down and become more deliberate in our thinking process. It may be that you are considering a new business project. Think about it in different ways. View it fro different perspectives. Do this and you will get a much clearer picture.