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Red Hat Thinking from Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats

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The Red Hat Six Thinking Hats: Red Hat ThinkingWithin Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats process, Red Hat Thinking focuses on feelings, hunches, gut instinct, and intuition. Red Hat Thinking should last no longer than 30 seconds and is best described in one to two words.

Red Hat Thinking gives validity to feelings and intuition and doesn't require any explanation. Red Hat Thinking may be used more than once within a Six Thinking Hats sequence to gauge feelings, for example, after new White Hat Thinking is presented, and it is not uncommon for Red Hat feelings to change throughout Six Hat Thinking.

The Red Hat Thinking may be used to measure buy-in or commitment after a decision has been made. Red Hat Thinking is also a helpful tool used to sort or prioritize new ideas generated during Green Hat Thinking.

Red Hat Thinking: Signaling feelings

Red Hat Thinking is very valuable because it makes clear that intuition, feelings, and emotions are going to be expressed as such. There is no need to pretend that they are something else. If feelings are indeed present, it is helpful to know what these feelings are. We can then see what we are dealing with.


“My Red Hat feeling is that I resent the email that was sent out.” (Notice that no reasons are given. It is difficult but important not to explain the reasons.)

Red Hat Thinking: Considering Feelings in Decision Making

Feelings and intuition cannot be checked out, so it is unwise to use the Red Hat alone for decision making. However, Intuition, hunches, feelings, and emotions have a high value as “ingredients” in the thinking that leads up to a decision.


“The facts do not support going ahead with the plan, but my Red Hat feeling is that we should explore it further.”

Red Hat Thinking: Recognizing a Range of Feelings

Red Hat Thinking includes a wide variety of possible feelings. On the positive/negative scale, people may report everything from detesting an idea to being wildly enthusiastic. More subtle feelings are also included: feeling curious or mildly interested, being uncertain or ambivalent, finding a proposal boring, etc.

When taking the general temperature of a group (rather than feelings about a specific issue), various members may report feeling upset, fearful, excited, angry, determined, exasperated, optimistic, tired, or a host of other internal states. It can be helpful to know what state people are in before you even start the agenda. Remember not to ask for explanations.


“I’m excited that we’re meeting today and can’t wait to get started.” 

“My Red Hat is annoyance.”


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