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Tools for Parallel Thinking

Learning how to use the same tools for thinking at the same time in order to avoid argumentation and maximize time.

Juan Trujillo

on 13 November 2013

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Transcript of Tools for Parallel Thinking

Parallel Thinking
The Six Thinking Hats
Parallel thinking is getting everyone focused on using the same thinking tool at the same time. This approach is more effective than argument, as a way of exploring a subject. In argument, people withhold information if it doesn't support their point of view. In Parallel Thinking, the goal is to think in many points under different perspectives, in this case "hats." This helps a group pool all their ideas, rather than to defend one point of view or another.
What is Parallel Thinking?
Separate thinking so we can do one thing at a time.
Ask people to switch thinking from one mode to another.
Separate ego from performance.
Signal what thinking process we are going to use next.
Expand from one-dimensional to full colored thinking.
Explore subjects in parallel.
Allow specific time for creativity.
Benefits of the Six Hats
From Adversarial
To Parallel
The Hats Concept
Six Hats
There are six imaginary
hats. Each colored had represents a different type of thinking. When you use one hat you operate exclusively in that mode of thinking.
Not categories
The hats are not descriptions or categories of thinkers. Every thinker should be able to use each hat. It is true some people are better at one than another, or prefer to use one over the other. The hats help focus the direction of thinking.
The Six Thinking Hats
The Blue Hat
Manage the Thinking
"Control" Hat
Organizes the thinking
Sets the focus agenda
Summarizes and concludes
Ensures the rules are observed
The White Hat
Information we know
Information we need
How are we going to get that information?
Determines accuracy and relevance
Looks at Other People's Views (OPV)
The Red Hat
Feelings, Intuition, Gut Instinct
Permission to express feelings
No need to justify
Represents feelings right now
Keep it short
A key ingredient in decision making
The Yellow Hat
Benefits and Feasibility
The optimistic view
Reasons must be given
Needs more effort than the black hat
Finds the benefits and values
Considers both short and long term perspectives
The Black Hat
Risks, Difficulties and Problems
The skeptical view
Reasons must be given
Points out thinking that does not fit the facts, experience, regulations, strategy, values
Points out potential problems
The Green Hat
New Ideas, Possibilities
Creative thinking
Seeks alternatives and possibilities
Removes faults
Doesn't have to be logical
Generates new concepts
The Blue Hat
The blue hat is connected to "process control." The user stands back and observes the thinking, managing the framework and contributing with caution. The blue hat encourages the best thinking from all the meeting participants. Every sequence begins and ends with the blue hat.
Plans agenda
Chooses the sequence
Manages the time
Invites participation from all participants
Decides on next steps
Is usually the role of the facilitator
Can be worn by any member of the group
Focuses and refocuses thinking
Handles requests for certain types of thinking
Points out inappropriate comments
Asks for a summary of the thinking
Calls for the group to make decisions
Assigns a scribe and a time keeper
Posts the focus statement where all can see
Shares the hat sequence and times
Uses corresponding colors/markers
Numbers flipchart paper
Contributes with caution
Invites building
Summarizes, concludes and plans next steps
Effective Meeting Facilitation
Learning the Hats
Experience the Blue Hat
What is happening with your meetings now?
No outcomes
No Agenda
No outcomes
Run overtime
1. Describe your typical meeting.

2. Which of your meetings would benefit from the use of the Six Hats framework?
The White Hat
The white hat is concerned directly with data and information.
What do we know?
What do we need to know?
Where can we get this information?
White Hat Questions
Notes both views when there is conflicting information
Assesses the relevance and accuracy of the information
Separates fact from speculation
Pinpoints action needed to fill gaps
Reports on someone else's feelings
O.P.V stands for other people's views. When paired with the White Hat, it broadens the information and makes the thinking less subjective.
White Hat O.P.V
Experience the White Hat
Staying in White Hat mode and using our focus, think about...
What do we know?
What do we need to know?
Where are we going to get the information we need?
What other people's views should we consider?
Who are these people and what are their views?
O.P.V Questions
What views does this person or group have?
What information do we need to hear from them?
How could we get the missing information?
What is the goal?
Has this been tried before?
How will this affect your people?
The Red Hat
The red hat is concerned with feelings, emotions and intuition.
What are my feelings right now?
What does my intuition tell me?
What is my gut reaction?
Red Hat Questions
Should be limited to 30 seconds or less
Best expressed in a word or 2
Gives us full permission to express feelings, hunches and intuitions.
Does not require us to justify or explain the reasons for our feelings.
Can be used as part of the thinking that leads to decision.
Can be used after a decision has been made to check
buy-in or commitment.
Feelings may be based on years of expertise and cannot always be analyzed. However, they can be valuable ingredients in a discussion. Normally they are excluded because they are neither fact nor logic. The Six Hats system gives feelings a valid place in the exploration of a subject.
About the Red Hat
Experience the Red Hat
Sample Emotions
Use the emotions above to tell how you feel about...
Flex time at work
Bungee jumping as a team exercise
Mandatory retirement at 55
Eliminating all titles at workplace
Banning smoking everywhere
Cloning humans
The Yellow Hat
The yellow hat represents the logical, positive aspects of thinking.
The yellow hat looks for benefits and value.
What are the benefits?
What are the positives?
What is the value here?
Yellow Hat Questions
Requires deliberate effort
Is less natural than the black hat
Reinforces creative ideas and new directions
Must give reasons why an idea is valuable or might work
Is a powerful assessment tool when used with the black hat
Considers both the short and long term perspectives
Experience the Yellow Hat
Find the 3 benefits on our focus point.
The Black Hat
The role of the black hat is to point out the weaknesses in our thinking. It highlights the points of caution, existing and potential downside and concerns.
What are the challenges - both existing and potential?
What are some of the difficulties?
What are the points for caution?
What are the risks?
Black Hat Questions
Points out difficulties
Explores why something may not work
Must give logical reasons for concerns
May sometimes offer information that also appears
under white hat.
Is a powerful assessment tool when used after the yellow hat.
Supplies a road map for improvement and problem solving when used before the green hat.
It is easy to overuse the black hat. This habit
arises from the Western tradition of placing so much emphasis on critical thinking. Some people feel that it is enough to be cautious all of the time. Whenever an idea comes up, they think only of the difficulties with that idea. The black hat is a very useful hat, and when it is in use it must be used as thoroughly as possible. But it is important to use other hats as well.
About the Black Hat
The Green Hat
Think of creativity, challenging the status quo and searching for alternatives and opportunities.
This is all accomplished under the
Are there other ways to do this?
What else could we do here?
What are the possibilities?
What will overcome our black hat concerns?
Green Hat Questions
Encourages a search for new ideas and alternatives.
Seeks to modify and remove faults in existing ideas
Sets up a micro culture of creativity
Makes time and space for a creative effort
Allows us to balance the natural balance of the black hat.
The green hat is for possibilities, even if they are remote. Unlike the yellow and black hats, the green hat does not need to have a logical base. Permits provocative ideas to be suggested.
About the Green Hat
Experience the Green Hat
Expand Your Thinking
Edward deBono
Presentation by: Juan Trujillo
(Only for informational purposes)
Question: Is there someone you work with who
tends to overuse the black hat thinking?
What is the impact?
Experience the Black Hat
What are 3 downsides, both existing and potential? Use our focus point.
Think of other uses for these common household items.
Golf Tee
The Three Ps
1. Positive: Every idea is valuable. All ideas
should be recorded
2. Prolific: The more ideas, the better. Build on
the ideas of others.
3. Playful: It is much easier to tame a wild idea
than to make a boring idea interesting.
How and When to Use the Hats
The three types of sequences
Fixed sequences:
can be set in advance as an agenda.
When to use? When you want a clear uncomplicated focus and definite results from a meeting.
Contingent and flexible sequences:
will vary depending on the choices
made during the meeting
When to use? When the meeting takes an unexpected turn, the flexibility allows you to meet the needs of the participants.
Evolving sequences:
No plan, the first hat is chosen, and when this is
finished, there is a choice of the next hat to be used.
When to use? In long thinking sessions where complicated matters are being discussed.
Scan the current situation
Strategic Plan Sequencer
What are our strengths?
What are our weaknesses
What are the trends that have an impact
on our business?
Develop future goals and strategies
Develop a bold goal and strategies for the
Develop a plan of action
Conduct a performance review
Performance Review Sequence
Share how we feel about how things are going
in a word or two
Review job description, roles and
What's working well?
What are the challenges, weaknesses, concerns
in the performance?
Generate ideas to overcome the weaknesses
and create new ideas to improve performance
In one word, how do we feel about moving forward?
Agree on next steps to support growth and
performance. Who needs to take these actions
and by when?
How to improve a particular process
Process Improvement Sequence
Review the current process
OPV: What are other people's views on the process?
What's working well with the process?
What are the weaknesses in the processes?
Generate ideas to overcome the weaknesses
Chose most appropriate ideas
Decide on next steps
Solve a problem
Problem Solving Sequence
What could be causing the problem?
Choose the best ideas
What are the benefits of each ideas?
What are the weaknesses of each idea?
Overcoming the weaknesses.
What do we need to do, by when?
Generate ideas to solve the problem
Generate new ideas about
Idea Generation Sequence
Share background information
Converge on ideas using specificity or priority
Set up and manage the evaluation process.
Evaluate one idea at a time.
What are the benefits of this idea?
What are the weaknesses or risks of this idea?
Generate ideas to overcome the black hat.
Generate ideas
Summarize the evaluated ideas.
Select ideas to move forward
What do we need to do next, by when? Plan next
Conversational Use
Creates structure in important conversations
Allows all sides to be heard
Helps move easily to different types of thinking when stuck in a conversational rut
In conversation, one of the most frequent use
of hats is simply asking a person to switch from one hat to another. This will help you view all
sides of a topic in conversation.
Meeting Use
Provides a roadmap for a thinking agenda
Promotes robust, full colored thinking
Reduces meeting time by up to 50%
Ensures all meeting attendees participate
Promotes teamwork and respect for individuals
A main value of the Six Hats method is to facilitate productive, focused meetings.
The hats free up participants to think in parallel
instead of becoming locked in adversarial views. The hats also promote an easy shift from one mode of thinking to another.
Cost Benefits
Five Managers
Each make
a year
a week for
2 hours
Cost for the company?
per year
Reduce the meeting by
per year
Cost for the company?
Reference Materials
About Edward de Bono
Edward Charles Francis Publius de Bono was born in Malta on 19 May 1933. His father, Joseph, was a
Professor of Medicine, and was awarded a CBE. His mother, Josephine, was one of the first female
journalists writing for The Times of Malta. Edward studied at St Edward's College in Malta.
Nicknamed 'genius', he graduated at the age of 15. De Bono then gained a medical degree from the
University of Malta. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Christ Church, Oxford, in England where he gained
an M.A. degree in psychology and physiology whilst being a keen sportsman. Note a canoeing record,
going from Oxford to London, a distance of 113 miles and crossing 33 locks in 33 hours. He played
Polo for Oxford University with a Handicap of 2. He also has a Ph.D. degree and a D.Phil. degree in
Medicine from Trinity College, Cambridge, a D.Des. degree (Doctor of Design) from the Royal
Melbourne Institute of Technology, and an LL.D. degree from the University of Dundee. De Bono is a
member of the Medical Research Society and the Athenaeum Club.

He has held faculty appointments at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, London and Harvard. He is a professor at Malta, Pretoria, Central England and Dublin City University. de Bono holds the Da Vinci Professor of Thinking chair at University of Advancing Technology in Phoenix, USA.[1] He was one of the 27 Ambassadors for the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009.[2] He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2005.

De Bono was formerly married to Josephine Hall-White, with whom he has two sons. He continues to travel giving seminars on his work and to write. He lives in Malta and owns an apartment in Piccadilly, London (previous residents of which include the Victorian prime minister William Gladstone and the poet Lord Byron).

In 1969 de Bono founded the Cognitive Research Trust (CoRT). In 1979 he co-founded the Edward de Bono School of Thinking.

He has written 82 books with translations into 41 languages. He has taught his thinking methods to government agencies, corporate clients, organizations and individuals, privately or publicly in group sessions. He has started to set up the World Center for New Thinking, based in Malta, which he describes as a "kind of intellectual Red Cross".

In 1995, he created the futuristic documentary film, 2040: Possibilities by Edward de Bono, a lecture designed to prepare an audience of viewers released from a cryogenic freeze for contemporary (2040) society.

Edward de Bono has developed a range of thinking techniques, which emphasize thinking as a learnable skill and deliberate act. De Bono's techniques are used in companies like IBM and DuPont. Agencies offer corporate training courses based on his techniques such as think outside the box.
More at:
Edward De Bono website:

Lateral Thinking:

Parallel Thinking:

6 Thinking Hats:

Effective Meeting Article (WSJ):
Using the Hats
We all use the six hats daily, but individuals tend to have default hats they use more often.
Which 2 hats do you feel most comfortable using?
Hat 1
Hat 2
Which 2 hats dominate the thinking in our organization?
Hat 1
Hat 2
What impact does this have on your team's effectiveness?
Define a Focus
The focus provides the discipline needed to decide where you need to be thinking.
When defining a focus think of an area where we need new ideas.
Try not just to think of problems but also opportunities.
Develop a statement starting with "how to"...
Focus point:
Sampling the hats
Which hat is it?
1. The redesign will take a minimum of three months.

2. I am unhappy with the merger.

3. Our service is the most expensive in the market.

4. It will increase our profile in the community.

5. Low staff morale is causing high attrition.

6. Are we ready to commit a decision?

7. We tried that and the staff was not supportive.

8. It would be easy to implement the logo.

9. We could offer two for the price of one.

10. I am concerned about staff morale
Hats Single Use
This is the use of one hat at a time in a memo or
report, in a meeting or during conversation, specifically to request certain type of thinking.
The hats can quickly become a part of corporate
culture and language.
Which hat would you call for when:

1. An idea is perceived negatively.

2. The meeting moves to controversial subject.

3. Everyone is overly enthusiastic about an idea.

4. The same old ideas keep coming up.

5. There is no meeting agenda.

6. You're launching a new product.

7. A meeting is running over time.

8. There is a need to find value in new idea.

9. The staff is upset about an upcoming budget cut.

10. The team is creating a new rewards and
recognition program.
Hats Systematic Use
Here the hats are used in a sequence, one after the other, in order to explore a subject thoroughly. Each hat may be used as many times as required in the sequence. Not all hats need to be used.

The systematic used of the hats is of particular value in the following circumstances:

1. When those taking part in the thinking have
strongly held different views.

2. When there is rambling discussion that is not
getting anywhere.

3. When a subject needs to be discussed
1. Someone is late every morning

2. Morale is generally low within the organization.

3. No one wants to work with a particular person.

4. Your client doesn't want to listen to your

5. You do not know what your competitor is going
to do.

6. You are designing a new set of standards.
Full transcript