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The Innovator's Toolkit: 50+ Techniques for Predictable and Sustainable Organic Growth, 2nd Edition by Neil DeCarlo, Philip Samuel, David Silverstein

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Technique 32

Six Thinking Modes1

Evaluate your solution ideas in six different ways.

 

Six thinking modes leverages different points of view to help your team evaluate its best ideas. The approach works especially well with controversial ideas, such as innovative new business models, because it makes time for objectivity and subjectivity, as well as for evaluating the pros and cons of the proposed solution.

Although you can use six thinking modes to generate ideas, it works equally well after you've narrowed down the list of ideas to a couple of viable options. It can be tricky to keep the group on track, so you may consider additional training in this technique, or bringing in an experienced facilitator.

Background

Six thinking modes is a lateral thinking exercise pioneered by Edward de Bono in the 1980s. During the exercise, team members adopt (role-play) a metaphorical hat that represents a mode of thinking (Exhibit 32.1):

1. Black is judgmental, warning of difficulties, dangers, and pitfalls.
2. Yellow remains optimistic, probing for the positive value and benefits of the idea.
3. White calls for information known or needed, is emotionally neutral, and seeks the facts.
4. Red articulates emotion, feelings, and hunches, without explanation or judgment.
5. Green encourages creative thinking, focusing on new ideas, possibilities, and alternatives.
6. Blue represents process-based thinking, and is worn by the facilitator at all times.

Exhibit 32.1 Thinking Modes. Each color represents ...

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