White Hat Thinking from Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats
Within Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats process, White Hat Thinking focuses on data, facts, and information known or needed. White Hat Thinking separates fact from speculation. With the White Hat, we look for information that is relevant to the current focus. The value of the information will fall along a spectrum of relevance and of accuracy.
Relevance may range from crucial fact to barely relevant. Accuracy may range from hard fact that can be checked easily to information that is likely to be untrue. Information that falls at any point along these two spectrums can be offered in White Hat thinking so long as the person who offers it also indicates where on each spectrum it falls.
Here are some of the areas that are pursued under the White Hat:
White Hat Thinking: Information That We Have
We can often find more information by taking a close look at what is known than we might expect. It’s like detective work: each known fact can be examined for its significance.
“The dates of employment for each position on this applicant’s resume shows that she has never held a job for more than 18 months.” (Note: we don’t jump to conclusions, we just note the fact.)
White Hat Thinking: Information That We Would Like to Have
Here we include everything that comes to mind, without deciding whether there is a way to get the information or how urgently it is needed. Sometimes there are ways of getting information that at first seems unattainable.
“It would be nice to know how this applicant would cope if George retires early and she is left to sort out his recruiting system on her own.”
White Hat Thinking: Information That We Need
If we focus on information that we need after we’ve listed everything that we’d like to have, then it’s a matter of prioritizing. If we’ve gone straight to thinking about what is most needed, then it’s a matter of discriminating. What’s the minimum information we must have before we can move forward?
“We have to find out if this applicant has experience in integrating social media into a marketing plan before we put her in the final running.”
White Hat Thinking: Information That is Missing
Here we are pinpointing exactly what information is missing.
“We do not know why this candidate has never held a job for more than 18 months.”
White Hat Thinking: Sources for Getting any Missing Information
Listing sources of information and planning how to get information are part of white hat thinking. It’s never enough to complain that the information is missing. We have to go out and get it.
“We could ask people who have worked with her in the past.”
White Hat Thinking is very important because the quality of any decision made depends on the quality of the information on which it is based.
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