The Power of a Hat…or Six

What was the last career decision you made? What were some of the factors you considered in making that decision? Did you use a formal process to make your decision? Looking back, is there anything you wished you would have thought about or paid more attention to?

Some career decisions are complex and others are relatively straightforward. Every day you decide to get out of bed and go to work when you would rather stay home, every time you say “yes” to your boss when you would rather say “no”, when you pick up the phone to ask an old colleague about their new work place, or when you take a course related to your work role or occupation you are making a career decision.

Complex career decisions may require a little more time and effort to make than the straightforward ones. There are many career decision making models and processes to choose from in this regard. Most involve self-assessment, exploration / research of options, choosing the best option, taking action, and evaluating the decision. Sounds easy right? Live the life of your dreams in five easy steps! The hard work happens within each of the five steps. My experience has been that individuals who are engaged in the career decision making process tend to make decisions based on one or two considerations, perspectives, or ways of thinking. You have a typical and comfortable thinking style and way of making decisions. Perhaps you think from an optimistic perspective. Maybe you are more cynical or emotional in your thinking. You might be someone who makes decisions based solely on facts. What might the outcome be if you use your natural thinking style in addition to other thinking styles?

“We may have a perfectly adequate way of doing something, but that does not mean there cannot be a better way. So we set out to find an alternative way. This is the basis of any improvement that is not fault correction or problem solving.” ~ Edward De Bono, Six Thinking Hats

I recently stumbled across a decision making model called Six Thinking Hats which was developed by Edward De Bono. It is used to make decisions from a number of perspectives, allowing for the consideration of factors that fall outside of our regular thinking style. It also provides a more comprehensive view of the situation we are in or the decision we are trying to make. Using the Six Thinking Hats technique your decisions will be made based on multiple perspectives.

The Six Thinking Hats are:

White Hat – the role of white hat thinking is to gather and analyze information. Think of a piece of paper or a computer screen that provides you with data, facts, and information.

  • What information do I have?
  • What information would I like to have?
  • What information do I need?
  • What information is missing?
  • Where can I get the information I need?

Red Hat – the role of red hat thinking is to express emotions (without judgement or explanation). Think of passion.

  • What am I feeling? What am I fearful of or excited about? What do I like or dislike?
  • What feelings are guiding my decision making?
  • What is the range of feelings I am experiencing?
  • How might others feel about this? How does that impact me?

Black Hat – the role of black hat thinking is to consider challenges. Think of a stern judge or a “devil’s advocate”. It is beneficial in that it helps to make your decision more resilient – it allows you to consider the risks and challenges before taking action and to use “Green Hat” thinking to overcome those risks and challenges.

  • What could possibly go wrong? Why might this not work?
  • Does this decision fit?
  • What are the faults with the plan? What hasn’t been considered?
  • What are the potential problems or hurdles?
  • What “Yellow Hat” considerations do I need to assess?

Yellow Hat – the role of yellow hat thinking is optimism. Think of the bright and warm sunshine.

  • What are the positive benefits of this decision?
  • What is the value of this decision for me? For others?
  • What are the reasons for optimism?
  • What is the feasibility of this option?
  • What could be developed or built upon?

Green Hat – the role of green hat thinking is to consider possibilities. Think of lush green vegetation and growth.

  • What are some options and alternatives?
  • What other ideas can I can generate?
  • What are some alternatives?
  • What haven’t I considered?
  • What can I do to overcome “Black Hat” problems?

Blue Hat – the role of blue hat thinking is to manage the process. Think of the sky and its overarching vastness. This hat manages the thinking process and directs thinking to different hats when needed to generate more ideas, develop contingency plans, or identify emotions.

  • What am I thinking about? What do I want to achieve?
  • What perspectives have I considered? What perspectives have I not considered?
  • What do I need to do to stay focused?
  • What have I decided?

I encourage you to try this method of thinking about career options, personal decisions, or work related issues. You can even use this process in meetings to get everyone’s input on a particular topic related to each of the thinking perspectives. There are plenty of resources available on the Six Thinking Hats method of decision making if you would like to do further research or reading on your own. I am looking forward to further utilizing the Six Thinking Hats method as a career decision making tool and welcome your feedback about the process and how it worked for you.

Hats off to you,


For a FREE 30 minute job search consultation please feel free to contact Paula directly at or 780.589.2245.