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6 Hat Thinking

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

6 Hat Thinking was invented by Edward De Bono to get people to think more laterally and to bring awareness to the way they think.

6 Hat Thinking can be used in Scrum as a decision-making technique used to get teams to think in different ways to solve problems. It brings awareness to how you are thinking so that you don’t get caught up in one way of thinking. And it’s also good for when events are getting boring, getting emotive, or spiralling out of control. 

The 6 Hats: 

6 Hat Thinking picture

Blue Hat – High-Level View. Discuss high-level objectives for the session.

White Hat – Facts. Discuss Facts or Information, no opinions

Yellow Hat – Optimism. Discuss the good things that happened in the last Sprint. 

Black Hat – Critical. Discuss the things that went wrong in the last Sprint. 

Green Hat – Creative. Come up with creative ideas to solve problems. Think out-of-the-box 

Red Hat – Emotions. The team writes down statements about their emotions about the last Sprint. Give little time for this as statements should be instinctive. 

Conclusion – what stands out? Are there any solutions from Green that can be used?

How to Use:

Get everyone thinking in the same way at the same time with one hat colour, then brainstorming or reviewing, then changing hats to a different colour, and reviewing again. Or assign team members different coloured hats to consciously think in that manner during an event, or choose a moderator to pick up on people sweeping to one way of thinking. 

Examples of Use:

The Scrum Master can use 6 Hat Thinking in the Sprint Retrospective to reflect on the last Sprint. Get everyone to virtually put on the same hat then brainstorm ideas. The Retro lends itself to Yellow Hat and Black Hat thinking anyway in the ‘What Went Well’ and ‘What Didn’t Go Well’ sections. But use Blue Hat and some of the other hats for the Actions section as well if only a few ideas are coming up.

For other facilitation tools and techniques, refer back to the Facilitation Techniques Index.

To see how you can use these techniques in your Scrum Events, refer to our Scrum Events Facilitation Tools article.

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