When it comes to solving problems, your perspective only provides one view of a situation, limiting creativity. The Six Thinking Hats technique encourages you to switch between thinking styles to consider a problem from different angles and generate a variety of ideas and possible solutions.
You may be familiar with this technique already, but have you tried it with Mind Mapping? A Mind Map’s outward radiating branches and keywords prompt you to make associations between your thoughts and generate more ideas. With an overview of your ideas, you will easily spot the gaps in your analysis and can devote more attention to those areas.
Adopt a thinking style one-by-one, adding to your Mind Map as you go. During this exercise, you will have to review previous sections to complete another. A Mind Map’s structure doesn’t require you to think ‘in order’, so you can jump back and forth to build on different areas when needed.
Let’s get started…
Start by gathering 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 you 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, and 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 disregard it or amend it, leading 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 comes into its own). A Mind Map’s structure and one keyword per branch triggers associations in the brain, sparking new ideas 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.