Six Thinking Hats

Many times meetings to discuss plans and change are poorly facilitated. Participants sometimes don’t share their concerns, or contradict each other and don’t commit to action.

One way to improve team cohesion and productivity is using the Six Thinking Hats, conceived by Dr. Edward DeBono. While DeBono believed just being conscious of which hat one is wearing improves discussion, I recommend getting each contributor in a small group of planners to wear each hat sequentially and simultaneously. Having everyone doing the same kind of thinking at each step counteracts dissonance and strengthens each of these ways of considering a proposal:

Blue Hat – Process and Plans

The facilitator needs to explain how the discussion will proceed (e.g., asking each individual for an expression or instead allowing spontaneous contributions) and the importance of keeping comments consistent with the hat all will use in a scheduled order. Generally, there is no criticism allowed as long as the person’s comments are in synch with the hat designated at each step.

Red Hat – Feelings and Intuition

This is the best one to start a discussion if there are strong feelings about an idea, such as moving the office to a new location. Feelings should not be explained or justified, only expressed simply, such as “sad,” “mad,” “glad” or “skeptical.” Intuition might be a conclusion, such as “it will be a total fiasco.”

White (or Clear if you prefer) Hat – Data

What we know, and what we need to know.

Yellow Hat – Benefits

The upside of the proposal or plan. Build the case before casting doubts.

Black (or Dark) Hat – Cautions

The downside and risks, alerting the team to dangers and needs.

Green Hat – Creativity

The no-holds-barred brainstorming of how to accentuate the upside and minimize the downside. The temporary assumption is that anything is possible.

Red Hat (x2)

“Any changes in feelings or intuition?” If most feel the proposal is fatally flawed, it’s okay to stop here.

Blue Hat (x2)

Review the discussion; explore whether it’s wise to collect more data first, or if it’s time to make decisions about implementation, specifying who will do what by when.

Once your team is familiar with the hats, a strong discussion can take less than an hour. Instead of bickering, even the proponent has shared the risks and downside and the critics have admitted the potential benefits of moving ahead. The team is more likely to unify around a better proposal than when the discussion began, knowing that the Six Hats strengthened their analysis, their creativity and their commitment to the wisest course.

Try it! If you’d like a color guideline on the Six Thinking Hats, call Ann at Cascade, 503-585-4320.



the weekend

Many organizations pay $900 or more for a good training DVD. Did you know that as a Cascade Employers Association member you get access to carefully selected DVDs and videos for FREE? That’s one of the many resource-sharing options that rewards you for being a member.

So which DVDs should you choose? Most are 17-25 minutes. Among the most popular are:

The Attitude Virus: Curing Negativity in the Workplace (manufacturing version or generic)

This one uses humor and realistically dramatized interactions to show the Rumor Monger, Pessimist, Steamer, Not-My-Jobber, Perfectionist (rarely satisfied or appreciative), Uncommitted (“whatever…”) and Resister. Users consistently report that it generates energetic, good-hearted feedback among employees.

More Than a Gut Feeling – Behavioral Interviewing

The most popular training video in past years, it shows how to get more valid and useful insights from job applicants by having them describe situations they have experienced. Specific questions are suggested.

In This Together

Using a quiz approach (“choose A, B or C”) on seven topics, the situations explores issues such as Attitude at Work, Respect and Harassment. Questions include:

  • When does being in a bad mood equal disrespect?
  • What happens if your “free speech” offends someone?
  • What is the rule when it comes to sexual attraction at work?

Other popular titles include “Accountability That Works,” “Positive Discipline,” “Group Think” and “Taking Charge of Change.” Go to the DVD Library on the Cascade website to see the whole list, procedures and how to use videos effectively.

Contact Cascade at 503.585.4320 to request a video. Videos may be kept for one week. Requests for reasonable extended viewing times are granted when possible.



Why, Arizona (2)

When I’m presented with an employment situation which could result in some sort of change in an employee’s status with the company, such as a disciplinary action or a performance plan, there are four questions that I always ask in order to assess the risk.

  1. Why?
  2. Why this employee?
  3. Why now?
  4. Can I prove it? (where’s the documentation)

Can you honestly answer the first three questions in front of a judge (worst case future scenario) without breaking out in a cold sweat? If not, then the fourth question doesn’t really matter.

If you can, what evidence do you have to justify and support your answers to the first three questions? If you don’t have the proof, your answers to the first three questions might not carry much weight.

If you can move through all four questions with confidence, then you’re probably in pretty good shape.



Shoemaker at work in Morocco Africa

Where else can you design your own comfortable, minimal shoes? Let me introduce you to this intriguing family-owned business in Corvallis. Did you know…

  1. Soft Star Shoes was founded by Tim and Jeanie Oliver in 1985, who wanted a soft, quality shoe for their baby girl and became frustrated by failed efforts to find such shoes so began making their own. As the Oliver family grew, so did their business – from a garage in Laguna Beach, California to the back of an old school bus in rural Texas to their first brick and mortar workshop in Corvallis, Oregon in 1990.
  2. Originally including just four children’s shoe styles and one boot, the Soft Star Shoe line-up now includes dozens of different styles for the whole family – moccasins, sandals, casual shoes, boots, slippers and their newest addition, running shoes. You can even design your own, choosing colors, materials and motifs.
  3. Over the decades Soft Star Shoes have been purchased by families, the Waldorf and Montessori schools and athletes. Their first celebrity customer was President Ford, purchasing a pair of baby boots for his grandchild in 1987.
  4. In an ongoing commitment to Soft Star’s core value of “walking lightly on the earth,” in 2005 the company installed solar panels on the workshop’s roof and all power is now sourced from renewable energy. They even provide incentives for employees to bike to work.
  5. As the existing Corvallis workshop quickly runs out of growing room, plans are now in the works to renovate a historic building in the neighboring city of Philomath. And chances are you’ll still find Tim putting the finishing touches on a pair of moccasins.

Cascade is pleased to feature Soft Star Shoes, a company passionate about minimal footwear for healthy development of bones, muscles and balance.

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