This week I’m at our US headquarters outside of Baltimore meeting with the marketing team. This is one of the few times in the year when we get together physically. Working virtually really works but nothing beats in-person discussions and collaboration.
I have a pretty packed agenda for these few days and am looking forward to it. One of the key points will be an exercise I’m leading on Looking Through a Different Lens. This is all about perspectives to improve creative problem solving and to increase creativity.
The first exercise will be using Edward DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats Technique. If you’re unfamiliar with this it is a powerful way of looking at the same problem from a variety of angles. Each hat is associated with a different color, and each color represents a different perspective or approach: white for facts, yellow for optimism, black caution, green for creativity, blue for overall control and red for emotion.
Here’s a summary of Six Thinking Hats:
White Hat: “the Factual Hat”
The white hat represents information gathering. Think about the knowledge and insights that you’ve collected already – but also the information you’re missing, and where you can go to get it.
Red Hat: “the Hat for the Heart”
This hat represents feelings and instincts. When you’re engaged in this type of thinking, you can express your feelings without having to justify them logically.
Black Hat: “the Judge’s Hat”
This hat is about being cautious and assessing risks. You employ critical judgment and explain exactly why you have concerns.
Yellow Hat: “the Optimist’s Hat”
With yellow hat thinking, you look at issues in the most positive light possible. You accentuate the benefits and the added value that could come from your ideas.
Blue Hat: “the Conductor’s Hat”
When you or your team are in blue hat mode, you focus on controlling your thinking and managing the decision-making process. You have an agenda, ask for summaries, and reach conclusions.
The green hat represents creative thinking. When you’re “wearing” this hat, you explore a range of ideas and possible ways forward.
In addition to the Six Thinking Hats Technique, there are several others. I tend to use Brainstorming, Mind Mapping and SWOT Analysis a majority of the time. Other techniques like the SCAMPER method and Startbursting we also explored (and I need to use more often).
Green Hat: “the Creative Hat”
This is the granddaddy of all creative thinking techniques. Gather your team, throw ideas into the mix, and see what sticks. The sky’s the limit! Remember how Old Spice reinvented its brand with their “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign? That was born out of a wild brainstorming session. Best for: Initial ideation stages. Drawbacks: Might lead to groupthink if not managed well.
Picture a tree with branches shooting off in all directions – that’s a mind map! Start with a central idea and let your thoughts branch out. It helped Apple create its iconic “Think Different” campaign by mapping out everything that made them different. Best for: Organizing complex ideas. Drawbacks: Can be overwhelming if too many branches are created.
This technique is like playing dress-up with your ideas. Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to other uses, Eliminate, Reverse – that’s SCAMPER. Remember when Dove combined beauty and self-esteem in their “Real Beauty” campaign? That’s SCAMPER in action. Best for: Revamping existing ideas. Drawbacks: Requires a solid base idea to start with.
Picture a starburst, radiating questions in every direction. Ask as many who, what, where, when, why, and how questions about your idea. Google used this technique to question how people interact with technology, leading to the creation of Google Glass. Best for: Early stages of product development. Drawbacks: Can lead to analysis paralysis if not carefully managed.
This is like giving your idea a health check-up. Analyze the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Nike did this before launching their “Just Do It” campaign, identifying opportunities in the fitness craze of the 80s. Best for: Strategic planning. Drawbacks: Can be subjective and may overlook external factors.
Anyway, by exploring these different techniques provide a mechanism for thinking differently about challenges. And when done collaboratively can bring out the best in people and their ideas.
It’s time to get creative and discover some new ways of looking at problems!