When it comes to solving business problems, your perspective only provides one singular view of the situation. This can seriously limit creativity, and is therefore damaging to the overall progress of your business. Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats is a great technique for breaking away from a narrow point of view as it encourages us to look at a problem from many different angles and experiment with different approaches.
You may be familiar with this technique already, but have you tried doing it with Mind Mapping? The outward radiating branches of a Mind Map encourage your mind to make associations and generate more ideas from each thought you add. Having a clear and visual overview of your ideas for a solution means you are also able to spot the gaps in your analysis, and therefore the areas that need more attention.
Edward de Bono’s technique involves switching between thinking styles to consider your problem from different viewpoints. This broadens your mind so that you are able to generate a greater variety of ideas and possible solutions. Adopt each thinking style one-by-one, adding to your Mind Map as you go along. During this exercise, you’ll have to go back and review previous sections in order to complete another; the great thing about using Mind Mapping is that its structure doesn’t require you to think ‘in order’ and you can jump back and forth to build on different areas when needed.
Let’s get started…
To begin the exercise, gather all of the information surrounding your problem and focus on the facts. Study the data that is available and see what you can learn from it. Do you need any additional information to help find a solution to your problem? If so, attempt to find it or take account of it. It’s important to remain neutral and objective during this stage.
Good ideas can stem from gut instincts, so for the next stage look at your problem using feelings and intuition. Don’t worry about justifying the way you feel towards the problem, just be aware of your immediate personal hunches, as well as how others will react to them.
For this stage, look at the negative aspects of a potential solution. Think about why it might not work, and point out any possible problems. Highlighting the risks and weaknesses of the solution will help you decide whether to simply amend it or disregard it, which will lead to a stronger solution for your problem in the long run.
During this stage, think positively and focus on the values and benefits of the possible solution. Think about how you can build on its advantages and explore why it would work. Adding a little optimism is especially helpful when things are looking a bit disappointing.
This is the stage where you seek fresh, creative solutions to the problem (and Mind Mapping really comes into its own). A Mind Map’s structure and use of one key word per branch triggers associations in the brain, sparking new ideas. You will likely discover fresh associations that may have been invisible before. Take the output of the other stages and use it to trigger new possibilities and ideas; overthrow Black Hat problems and build on the beneficial aspects recognised in the Yellow Hat stage.
Focus on the thinking process itself during this stage. Determine what thinking is needed to progress; if you’re struggling to generate ideas, aim your attention towards Green Hat thinking. If a contingency plan is needed, target Black Hat thinking. Create a summary to round things off.
Hint: For bigger problems, you might want to create a Mind Map for each thinking hat.
The great thing about the Six Thinking Hats technique is that it triggers your mind into action, forcing it to think differently and consider ideas outside of your norm. Combined with the associative nature of Mind Mapping, you’ll have an abundance of information to build on for the best possible solution for your problem.
So, if you have a problem and need to broaden your business perspective, why not download our free trial…
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