How to use the “Bono Six Thinking Hats” technique in your coaching practice

Thinking Hats

The impact of the Bono Six Thinking Hats technique on the quality of the thinking and decision making processes

 This technique based on “6 Thinking Hats” was developed by Maltese psychologist Edward de Bono (1933 – 2021).  It is a communication and reasoning tool to see from new perspectives by applying lateral thinking.  This method is used in coaching to help individuals or teams change perspective, think more effectively and make more informed decisions. It also enables coachees to discover unexpected skills or capabilities within themselves.

Description of the method

The method uses six different coloured hats to represent 6 different thinking styles:

1.First of all, the white hat for facts and figures. It represents an objective, neutral and unbiased point of view which answers the question: what are the facts?

2.The black hat for the negative side and potential risks. It is the “devil’s advocate” and answers the question: for each of these solutions, what are the risks and drawbacks?

3.The yellow hat applies a direction of thinking with a logical positive focus and on potential benefits. Like the black hat, comments are constructive, positive and try to make other members’ ideas concrete. However, it represents optimism and answers the question: for each of these solutions, what can be implemented?

4.The red hat represents passion, emotions and feelings. It doesn’t have to justify itself to the other hats. It answers the question: how do you feel?

5.The green hat stands for creative ideas and new perspectives. It represents unlimited creativity and the fertility of ideas, and answers the question: What are the possible solutions, including the most far-fetched?

6.Last by not least, the blue hat is all-encompassing and focuses on the whole process. It represents structured thought and acts as a guide. The process is prevented from getting stuck or sidetracked.  Use it to answer the questions: What is the best solution? How should it be implemented?

What benefits can be expected from the Six Thinking Hats method?  

During a problem-solving or creative thinking session, this method enables people to:

Broaden perspectives to analyse the situation from different angles
Acknowledge the multiple points of view to avoid the pitfalls of the leader’s unilateral thinking style
– Allow yourself to explore unusual areas of thought which lead to more creative and original solutions
Construct an overview of the situation that is both global and detailed
Overcome difficulties linked to communication methods and relational roles
Make informed decisions
Identify coherent solutions
Avoid falling into a spiral of conflict due to lack of agreement

How can it be used in coaching? 

 If your client or the group you are coaching is stuck in a situation and unable to resolve a problem or  find a solution, you can challenge them to think differently with this tool.  Start asking them to wear the different hats and use the ‘thinking style’ of the hat and share their ideas with the group and/or you. Therefore, your clients will have the opportunity to explore the different perspectives of a situation, project or objective. 

For example, you could ask:

– A coachee who is reluctant to wear the yellow hat to explore the potential advantages of a decision.
– A team lacking in creativity to wear the green hat to generate new ideas.
– To achieve an objective in individual or group coaching think about all the hats.

In all cases, you can challenge your clients (with benevolence) by inviting them to wear a hat that is the opposite of their preferred thinking style. This exercise is powerful because it allows everyone to test different thinking styles.  This raises awareness of the variety of thinking styles which exist outside our own and allows to them to experiment with previously unknown thinking styles.

In conclusion, if you’d like to offer your coachees new perspectives thanks to this method,  please check on our online-shop our exclusive Kit-Bono 6 Thinking Hats 


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