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If it is to progress efficiently and effectively, a creative process needs a system by which it is controlled.

The Six Thinking Hats creative thinking technique can be used to control any creative thinking process.

ball bullet How does Six Thinking Hats work?

In Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats the essential activities of the creative process are described in a series of six steps, represented by six coloured ‘Thinking Hats’.

Each of the six coloured hats denotes one of six steps to the creative process, where each step is taken according to the developing needs of the creative process.

There is no defined order to the use of the Six Thinking Hats: a hat is employed according to the needs of the creative thinking process at that time.

The management of the whole process – deciding which thinking hat to use next – is denoted by the Blue Hat.

A creative project will generally begin with Blue Hat thinking. Blue Hat thinking is used to decide which of the other Thinking Hats would be best adopted at any particular stage in the creative operation.

The development of any creative work requires an information gathering stage. This gathering of information is represented by the White Hat. An important component of the information gathering stage is establishing objectives for the creative project. What would indicate, represent, or define a successful outcome for the creative work being undertaken.

The stage in which Glanside Creative Thinking techniques are harnessed is indicated by the Green Hat.

The creative thinking techniques deployed in the Green Hat stage will generate creative ideas and approaches. Some of these ideas will be instantly appealing, others will have potential but need more work, some will be non-starters.

This response to the creative ideas generated during the Green Hat stage – given your initial objectives (e.g. target market, audience response, subject being analysed etc) – is defined by the Red, Yellow and Black Hats.

The Red Hat represents the stage of ‘feeling’. Which ideas feel right, which ideas feel wrong.

The Yellow and Black Hats assist this ‘feeling process’. In Yellow Hat thinking the positives, advantages and godsends of the creative ideas generated, given the objectives you set yourself, are reflected upon.

In Black Hat thinking the negatives and problems of the creative ideas generated, given the objectives you set yourself, are reflected upon.

One word of warning at this stage. The craziest ideas sometimes – or even often – have hidden potential that can lead to the most creative and artistic solutions. Rather than deleting ideas, they are often best stowed for later consideration.

In combination, the Red, Yellow and Black Hats help to identify the creative ideas and approaches that will best take your work forward whilst observing the initial objectives you set for the creative project.

ball bullet Short Summary of each Thinking Hat

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The Blue Thinking Hat is the hat for managing the creative process – i.e thinking through the thinking process (or the ‘creative hat’) that will be required next.

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The White Thinking Hat is the information hat. This is the hat for searching information to support the creative process. High quality creative thinking is always supported by an information rich approach to the specific ideas you start with – and the general ideas you are going to combine with your specific ideas – in order to find the new creative direction (i.e. idea/theme/point-of-departure).

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The Green Thinking Hat is the creative hat. The green hat is the Glanside hat with which you select the Creative Technique that you wish to apply in order to generate a creative glance sideways. The Green Thinking Hat describes which creative technique you wish to use – and exactly how you are going to apply that creative technique to your specific ideas (i.e. the starting point for your creative work).

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The Red Hat is the feeling hat. The creative thinking process will have established creative ideas and creative direction in which you could take your work. In choosing the creative direction to follow, it is vital to assess your emotional reaction (i.e. your feelings) towards the ideas you have identified and started to develop. Your feelings – towards a creative idea and/or how that idea is developing – are important in the creative process. Creativity should always respond to an artistic objective. Your feelings are key indicators as to whether your artistic objective is being met.

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The Yellow and Black Thinking Hats can be described as logical thinking hats. There is a ‘serendipity’ side to creativity. When things just seem to ‘fall-in-to-place’ you know that the creative direction is sound. These are the positive characteristics of any idea. The Yellow Hat is worn when reflecting on these positive characteristics of the creative ideas/themes/points-of-departure that you have identified.

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The Black Thinking Hat exists so that you don’t get carried away with the new creative ideas. The Black Hat is worn when considering the negative characteristics of the creative ideas/themes/points-of-departure that you have identified. Are the ideas you have generated really assisting the achievement of your creative objectives? Is the quality of this work as good as you want it to be?