6 thinking hats – without the hats

I’ve used Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats in my group work sessions for some time now and recently I realised the one aspect of it that I’m less keen on – the hats….
I love the theory using different approaches to explore different perspectives with great efficiency and great results. I also love the use of colour and all that represents and evokes for people.
I’m just not keen on thinking hats – to me this seems outdated now. I know it can be fun to use coloured hats and for all group members to change their hats to match the thinking process. In practice I found this isn’t always doable if time is limited, if it’s a big group and if any of the group are iffy about putting on a hat.
Then one day, a group member (CEO), who knew Six Thinking Hats was on the programme, arrived deliberately wearing yellow socks. From this stimulus, I wondered if it was time to be more flexible around the hats and to update training sessions by using more accessories. This approach of using any range of different coloured objects during the thinking process session has 3 main benefits:
– it brings more diversity, fun and choice to the session
– the props are much easier to find
– it creates lots of opportunities to continue the themes beyond the day

How much easier is it for a team members in a meeting to go through the colours using visual prompts from their office environment or the room they are in?
Blue note pads, white paper, red mugs, black pens, yellow post-its and for green – there’s usually a plant somewhere accessible.

Purists, if I’m missing something and it needs to be hats, please let me know. Otherwise, if you like these ideas, you may also like my accompanying, 30 second summary sheet.