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de Bono's Six Thinking Hats and decision-making with business intelligence

4 mins to read
de Bono's Six Thinking Hats and decision-making with business intelligence

We tend to approach problem solving and decision-making with our instincts and through our personalities. In this blog, we review whether de Bono's Six Thinking Hats theory can be applied to modern decision-making and how it might be augmented with business intelligence.

Dr. Edward de Bono created a model of six problem solving styles, or mindsets. In 1985, de Bono published a book called “Six Thinking Hats” to illustrate these different mindsets and how they influence our decision-making. These personality types continue to exist in business today but with the adoption of technology, some of these styles have morphed into one another.

For instance, if you have a naturally optimistic personality, your motto may be “When handed a lemon, make lemonade.” Therefore, you may see a decline in sales of a particular product as an opportunity to develop a new cross-selling campaign. However, if you’re naturally pessimistic, your motto may be “Approach with caution.” Therefore, your risk-aversive outlook will enable you to avoid potential pitfalls like overstocking a trendy new item.

The Managerial Blue Hat

Many executives and managers wear the blue hat. Their role is to manage all of the other styles to ensure the best solution to a problem is found. A blue hat will define the problem, encourage a team to present solutions, and organize their input to develop a plan. The blue hat’s primary role is to take an idea and see it through to implementation.

A blue hat asks questions such as ‘What is the next step?’ and ‘What is the outcome?’ This hat could use a BI solution to get an overview of what’s happening in the business and seek impartial answers to their questions.

The Neutral White Hat

A white hat examines the facts of a situation from an unbiased and objective perspective. Rather than gut instinct, beliefs, or opinions, this hat gathers statistics, data, and evidence that can be proven or measured to solve a problem.

A white hat could benefit from using a BI solution to separate fact from opinion and to evaluate the accuracy of information. The white hat can do this by drilling down into the data to see the underlying stats, perform a gap analysis, or examine past trends to inform their decision making.

The Intuitive Red Hat

The red hat is the hat of feelings, hunches, and gut instinct. They are the heart of the team. They have the ability to intuit solutions to problems. They are very connected to their feelings which guides their insight and ideas. Because intuition isn’t logical or intellectual, the red hat never feels the need to justify their solutions. Due to their heart-felt nature, the red hat also has the ability to understand the emotions of others.

A red hat person would appreciate the intuitive nature of business intelligence to follow their hunches. If a red hat has a hunch about a change in customer buying habits, they would be able to follow that hunch when querying the data. Since many customers are guided by emotions when making purchasing decisions, a red hat would also enjoy using BI to develop targeted marketing campaigns.

The Pessimistic Black Hat

The black hat is cautious by nature. They are the “Devil’s Advocates” of decision making. They don’t accept proposals or agreements without careful consideration. Their analytical nature enables them to identify the flaws, weaknesses, or risks when considering solutions. On a team, their role is to examine and question the solutions presented by the other hats. Once they’ve taken everything into consideration, they can identify potential problems such as inadequate resources or support. After they’ve identified the risks, the team can collaborate to find ways to work around them.

A black hat will find BI a benefit when analyzing forecasts and making predictions. They can use BI to form logical counter arguments when proposals don’t seem to match the facts. For instance, a company may be considering the introduction of a new product line. The black hat will be able to analyze the data for flaws to make sure the company can afford the investment.

The Optimistic Yellow Hat

This hat is the hat of hope and positivity. Yellow hat people tend to focus on the possibilities. They have a sunny disposition even when things seem gloomy. There motto is: If there is a will, there is always a way. The yellow hat is the opposite of the black hat. This hat considers the advantages of a situation. They look at why proposals will work. They look for the strengths.

When working to solve a problem as part of a team, the yellow hat will make the case for why the solution will succeed. Their optimism enables the team to see all of the benefits to a decision. The yellow hat would enjoy using BI to discover new opportunities and how to make the most of them.

The Creative Green Hat

The green hat is nontraditional. This hat tends to have a unique and creative perspective and approach to doing things. Their motto is: Let’s think outside the box. When on a team, the green hat will challenge traditional solutions and present unique and creative answers to solve the problem. A green hat may use a BI to develop creative proposals or identify new insights that may lead to new breakthroughs and new ways of thinking.

Every successful organization relies on the unique strengths of their employees. They know a team of people with different mindsets will find the best solution to any problem. As individuals, BI can support their unique perspectives and contributions to their team and company as a whole.

Are you an executive wondering which decisions you should make? To learn more about which KPIs and metrics you may measure, whether to safeguard your existing position in the marketplace or to find new sales opportunities, download a copy of our eBook: Executive KPIs.

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Written by Phocas Software
Phocas Software

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