10 March 2011

Design Thinking de Bono style

The main difficulty of thinking is confusion. We try to do too much at once. Emotions, information, logic, hope and creativity all crowd in on us.

Western thinking is concerned with "what is," which is determined by analysis, judgment and argument...but there is a whole other aspect of thinking that is concerned with "what can be," which involves constructive thinking, creative thinking and "designing a way forward."

-Edward de Bono


I am currently reading de Bono's Six Thinking Hats and today used it as a method for students to work through the various layers of problems they wanted to solve in their communities.

The great thing about this process? Because you aren't thinking in multiple directions you are less likely to get lost in the complexity of an issue. By focusing on a common way for everyone to think about a topic or concern, you can avoid frustration and enable a group of people to come to the table on equal footing.

As we worked through an issue, I asked them to all think about it by focusing on one way of thinking at a time. Here are the colors/hats and the corresponding ways of thinking:

White Hat: neutral, objective, facts, figures
Red Hat: emotional view
Black Hat: cautious, careful, points out the weakness of the idea
Yellow Hat: positive, optimistic, hopeful
Green Hat: creativity, new ideas
Blue Hat: control, organization of thinking process

It was fun to watch the groups attempt to keep focused on one particular type of thinking and not default to what may have been more familiar or comfortable. Through this experience, I was reminded how these other systems/tools of thinking can be useful in breaking down barriers with multidisciplinary teams, which is common when working in research or social impact design spaces.

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