By David Finkel
Many entrepreneurs have taken to wearing the same thing day in and day out to reduce decision fatigue and free up their time to focus on more important matters. Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and the late Steve Jobs all believed in minimalist wardrobes. And while I agree the concept is a sound one, I want to challenge the idea a bit and encourage you as a business owner to mix things up, even if it’s only metaphorically.
Here at Maui Mastermind, we often teach our mastermind groups about the power of the six hats, and I want to share the concept with you today.
What Is a Hat?
In this context, a hat is not a physical piece of clothing but a state of mind. It is a tool that can be used to push the boundaries of thinking and help you grow as a group and as leaders. There are six different types of hats:
- White Hat: The Professor or Thinker Mode. Focus: Exclusively on the objective facts, information and data without any interpretation or “story.”
- Red Hat: The Emotional/Intuitive Hat. Focus: Exclusively on feelings, emotions, and intuition.
- Black Hat: Your Bodyguard. Focus: Exclusively on what is wrong or could go wrong.
- Yellow Hat: The Enthused Champion. Focus: Exclusively on how to make an idea work and looking for what’s good about a specific situation.
- Green Hat: Your Creative Genius. Focus: Exclusively on new ideas and creating possibilities and new combinations and mixtures.
- Blue Hat: The Organizing Hat. Focus: Exclusively on the thinking process itself and how we are recording, organizing, harnessing, and putting to work the thinking we are doing.
What Are the Benefits of the Hats?
In our mastermind group, we regularly sit down together as a team and put on a different hat. We will discuss what hat we are going to wear and explain the ground rules before sharing our ideas.
This exercise has many benefits:
- It lets people play and relax into the fun of the hat in question.
- It reduces people’s perceived risk in contributing to the group and helps them feel safer playing a role that they put on…it’s not “them,” only a hat they are wearing.
- It helps people avoid arguments, which is rarely needed in masterminding and almost always detrimental and destructive. Now you can simply note all sides in parallel and move forward in your masterminding. In the rare case in which you need to choose, you lay out the map and eventually let your red hat choose.
- It simplifies the thinking process. Rather than use all thinking styles all at once in a great big muddle, you can break out the parts and really flesh out the ideas.
- It helps people switch thinking patterns and avoid thinking ruts.
Three Final Tips to Harness the Power of the Hats
Remember, the hats are about direction, not description…. They are about influencing the way you are behaving and thinking, not a label you put on your thinking in retrospect.
When you use a hat, make sure everyone wears the same hat at the same time (the only exception is if you want to keep a facilitator wearing the blue hat).
The hats are tools. You don’t need them all the time. You use them when you want and put them away when they become too much. Avoid living in any one particular hat.
In upcoming articles, I will dive into the differences between the six hats in greater detail.
This article was first published at Inc