Let’s call a spade a spade. When it comes to working with people, we are naturally drawn to those people who we like. Those who believe the same things as us, perhaps think like us and approach things in the same way as we do.
However, when it comes to collaborating and having to work collectively, we often find ourselves thrown into random and seemingly odd groups and it quickly becomes a chore and a pain in the butt to work together. We yearn for the people who are like us and who we like.
Group assignments at uni are a perfect example. When I was at uni, it was pretty normal to form a group for an assignment with all journalism people because a) we all sat together and b) it was easy because we already knew each other. I’m sure this attitude was the same for law students, creative industry students and engineering students.
Yet whether you are collaborating to solve problems, or create new and wonderful things for the world – true magic happens when you bring many DIFFERENT perspectives to the table.
Sometimes this happens naturally. Other times, if you make an effort to walk outside your comfort zone and team up with people who may study a different major to you, you’ll be able to look around and realise how diverse the group you are in, is.
When you enter the workplace, you won’t have a choice on who you get to work with!! Strong teams are made up of a dynamic group of people who bring to the table a range of skills, expertise, opinions and perspectives.
So rather than recoil and resist the differences … embrace them! This is where Edward De Bonos ‘Six Thinking Hats’ comes into the picture.
Put simply, if you have 6 people in a team who ALL think the same way – you won’t necessarily collaborate effectively and produce a meaningful result. However, different personalities and beliefs in the same team … can generate true strength.
So how do the hats work and how can we apply them?
Basically each ‘hat’ helps you to look at problems from different perspectives:
The White Hat // Calls for information known or needed
>> Look at the information in front of you from past campaigns, studies or results and see what you can learn from it. Look for gaps and try to fill them or make a note of them.
The Red Hat // Signifies feelings, hunches and intuition
>> Use your intuition, gut reaction and emotion to decide how others could also react to your problem/solution. Try to understand how different people might respond.
The Black Hat // Judgement – devil’s advocate or why something may not work
>> Use this hat to identify a decisions potential negative outcomes … try and pinpoint what might not work. This step helps make your decisions more resilient to any underlying issues at hand.
The Yellow Hat // Brightness and optimism
>> Time for some positivity!! Which is exactly what the yellow hat is for! This stage helps you to keep going when everything looks a little bit too difficult!
The Green Hat // Focuses on creativity: the possibilities, alternatives and new ideas
>> Use your creativity to find solutions to the problems you’ve identified. This is where your ideas will meet little criticism, so feel free to share as many relevant ideas as you like!
The Blue Hat // Use to manage the thinking processes
>> Usually worn by the ‘chair’, use this hat to monitor the discussion and decidedwhich hat should be worn as the project discussion continues.
Sometimes you will naturally find yourself in a team with all the different hats automatically represented … and other times you will need to consciously put the different hats on to ensure you have a rounded view of the challenge at hand. However, by consciously looking at a situation from all the different perspectives, you will be able to truly form a rounded solution to whatever challenge you may be facing.