Problem solving is a systematic thinking process to bring about change. In ordinary thinking, the thinker leaps from critical thinking to neutrality to optimism and so on without structure or strategy.
Many successful people think from a very rational, positive viewpoint, and this is part of the reason that they are successful. Often, though, they may fail to look at problems from emotional, intuitive, creative or negative viewpoints. This can mean that they underestimate the problem, don't consider all consequences, and fail to understand the feasibility of the solution.
A colleague and friend (thanks Ken) recently introduced me to Six Thinking Hats. This is a thinking tool for group discussion and individual thinking created by Edward de Bono. The premise of the method is that the human brain thinks in a number of distinct ways which can be identified, deliberately accessed and hence planned for use in a structured way allowing one to develop strategies for thinking about particular issues.
Each "Thinking Hat" is a different style of thinking. These are explained below:
Objective, neutral thinking in terms of facts, numbers and information. With this thinking hat, you focus on the data available. Look at the information you have, and see what you can learn from it.
Red Hat:Emotional, with judgements, suspicions and intuitions. 'Wearing' the red hat, you look at problems using intuition, gut reaction and emotion. Also try to think how other people will react emotionally.
Negative, sees risks and thinks about why something will not function. Using this hat, look cautiously and defensively at all the bad points of the decision. Try to see why ideas and approaches might not work. Black Hat thinking helps to make your plans tougher and more resilient.
Positive, optimistic, clear, effective and constructive. This hat helps you to think positively and to see all the benefits of the decision and the value in it. Yellow Hat thinking helps you to keep going when everything looks gloomy and difficult.
Creative, seeks alternatives. The green hat is where you can develop creative solutions to a problem. It is a freewheeling way of thinking, in which there is little criticism of ideas. A whole range of creativity tools can help you here.
The Six Thinking Hats tool can be a powerful technique used to look at problems from different points of view. All of these thinking hats help for thinking deeper. This helps us move away from habitual thinking styles and towards a more rounded view of a situation.
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