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Part Two: Aligning Research Results with Decision-Making—Thinking About Thinking (Edward de Bono)

Posted by Stephen Abram on 7/3/2018
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Part Two: Aligning Research Results with Decision-Making

In my previous post, I wrote about how analyzing the ways in which thinking and decision-making happen offers interesting frameworks special librarians can use to strategize about the added value we provide in our product and service design. In this post I outline one of my favourites—Dr. Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats.

The Thinking Hats exercise is based on Dr. De Bono’s work on improving the thinking of teams and widening the perspectives brought to the table.

The beauty of the approach is that it focuses groups of committed people on viewing an issue from all facets. It can be quite fun—and you can actually provide the coloured hats so that people are in-the-moment and aligning their perspective with its correct facet. Once you understand the framework of the thinking hats exercise it isn’t a huge leap to see how this plays out in organizing research results. Indeed, it shows the opportunity to move up the scale from the white hat (simple data and information collection) to expressing results that spark creativity, growth mindsets, emotional intelligence, and more.

The Thinking Hats Exercise

Discuss or organize research results based on the below “buckets”. Are there gaps? Can we improve the results or highlight the weaknesses and strengths of these results?

De Bono's Six Thinking Hats + One
Six Thinking Hats

White Hat: Knowledge

  • What more info do I need?
  • How can we grow this idea?

Red Hat: Emotion

  • How do I feel about this?

Yellow Hat: What is good?

  • What do we need to protect?

Green Hat: Growth, ideas

  • What are the opportunities here?
  • How can we grow this idea?

Blue Hat: What do we need to do?

  • What’s the process here?
  • Have we thought of everything?

Black Hat: Critical thinking

  • Let’s ask critical questions.

Purple Hat: The Royal Hat

Benefits of Six Thinking Hats
  1. Provides a common language
  2. Diversity of thought
  3. Use more of our brains
  4. Removal of ego (reduce confrontation)
  5. Focus (one thing at a time)
  6. Save time
  7. Create, evaluate & implement action plans

For another time, Dr. De Bono also posits that leaders can use Six Action Shoes to move forward with implementing decisions. I find the expansion of the various approaches to dealing with decision-making authority and responsibility to be useful.

De Bono's Six Action Shoes
  1. Navy Formal Shoes – Routine Behaviour
  2. Grey Sneakers – Collect Information
  3. Brown Brogues – Pragmatism and Practicality
  4. Orange Gumboots – Emergency Response
  5. Pink Slippers – Human Caring
  6. Purple Riding Boots – Use Your Authority
Links for more information:


Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono (Author)

Six Action Shoes by Edward de Bono (Author)


What is Six Thinking Hats


Stephen Abram is a popular Lucidea Webinars presenter and consultant. He is the past president of SLA, and the Canadian and Ontario Library Associations. He is the CEO of Lighthouse Consulting and the executive director of the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries. He also blogs personally at Stephen’s Lighthouse. Check out his new book from Lucidea Press, Succeeding in the world of Special Librarianship!


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Topics: Professional Development, Special Libraries, Strategy