6 Thinking Hats and other decision-making models

Whether you're going through a decision-making phase or are trying to innovate a new product or service, various tools are available to support you. Disney's 3 Spaces

Walt Disney has been credited with using this simple formula to come up with novel ideas:

  1. He had one space where he would just dream and brainstorm.
  2. He had another space where he would consider which ideas could become reality.
  3. He had a third space where he would criticize and constructively look at his ideas.

If you're using this method yourself, it is imperative that you find different chairs or locations to exercise each aspect in. Don't let the critic pipe up while you're still dreaming! Remember, motion creates emotion, so you can perhaps dream while you walk, and become realistic while sitting at your desk.

6 Thinking Hats

white hat

The White Hat calls for information known or needed. "The facts, just the facts."

yellow hat

The Yellow Hat symbolizes brightness and optimism. Under this hat you explore the positives and probe for value and benefit.

black hat

The Black Hat is judgment - the devil's advocate or why something may not work. Spot the difficulties and dangers; where things might go wrong. Probably the most powerful and useful of the Hats but a problem if overused.

red hat

The Red Hat signifies feelings, hunches and intuition. When using this hat you can express emotions and feelings and share fears, likes, dislikes, loves, and hates.

green hat

The Green Hat focuses on creativity; the possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas. It's an opportunity to express new concepts and new perceptions.

blue hat

The Blue Hat is used to manage the thinking process. It's the control mechanism that ensures the Six Thinking Hats® guidelines are observed.

Looking at the hats through the Type lens, we often see the colors represented as functions as well. Red, emotions, and feelings may represent the Feeling function, blue, logic, and analysis represents the Thinking function, yellow often stands for Intuiting, and green for Sensing.

In other words, if hats aren't your thing, you might also consider

The Z-model for decision-making


Begin by looking at what-is, the facts, present feelings, memories, sensations. Then consider themes, patterns, what might be in the future, universal application possibilities. Follow up with fact-checking, organization, cause-effect, and bottom-line analysis. Round it all off considering the people involved, their values, impact on harmony and relationships.

Questions to ask yourself (excerpt from Step II Interpretive report):

S - What do we know, and how do we know it?

N - What else can we come up with, and what are the connections?

T - Why wouldn't we be following through now, and what are the logical consequences?

F - What do we like and dislike, and what about the people who will be hurt?