6 Thinking Hats You Need to Master CX Initiatives

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Mastering CX initiatives requires professionals who wear multiple hats as they consider the needs of their organization and the success factors of CX programs.

The Six Thinking Hats technique of Edward de Bono is a model that can be used for exploring different perspectives towards a complex situation or challenge. Seeing things in various ways is often a good idea in strategy formation or complex decision-making processes.

Simplify thinking by allowing one to deal with one thing at a time. De Bono identified six styles of thinking and assigned a color to each one. One thinking style is not inherently better than another; it’s just a different way of looking at something.

Allow switching in thinking from one style to another. He likened switching to putting on and taking off a hat. The combination of colors and hats provides an idiom that instructs how to think without being offensive. By turning thinking into role-playing with simple rules, it does not threaten a person’s ego or personality.

6 Thinking Hats You Need to Master CX Initiatives

Each of the Hats is named for a color that is mnemonically descriptive of the perspective one adopts when wearing the particular hat. For example the devil’s advocacy is what one engages in when wearing the Black Thinking Hat.

  • White Hat – FACTS and FIGURES; neutral and objective view; focus on information available, what info is needed, how it might be obtained.
  • Red Hat – EMOTIONS, FEELINGS, intuition, hunches; focus on quickly expressing without explanation nor justification required.
  • Black Hat – LOGICAL NEGATIVE support; focus on pessimism, why something is wrong, being judgmental and critical.
  • Yellow Hat – LOGICAL POSITIVE support; focus on optimism, benefits, what’s good, being constructive.
  • Green Hat – CREATIVE and LATERAL thinking; focus on change, innovation, invention; new ideas, possibilities, concepts, perceptions, paradigms.
  • Blue Hat – CONTROL of THINKING PROCESS; focus on thinking about thinking, overview; being cool and in control of the overall process and use of other hats.

De Bono’s hats are indicative of both emotional states as well as frames of mind (i.e., perspective from which an issue is viewed). He noted: “Emotions are an essential part of our thinking ability and not just something extra that mucks up our thinking” (1985, p27). One thinking style (or hat) is not inherently “better” than another. A full, balanced team recognizes the need for all hats in order for the team to consider all aspects of whatever issues they are facing.

Benefits of a Structured CX Management Process

  1. Allows one to say things without risk. Very strong in preventing the Spiral of Silence.
  2. Create awareness that there are multiple perspectives on the issue at hand
  3. Provides a convenient mechanism for ‘switching gears’, thinking in deliberate different ways
  4. Set rules for the game of thinking
  5. Temporarily focus thinking on one aspect
  6. Helps individuals expand their thinking capacity by adopting a perspective that is not necessarily their own
  7. Leads to more creative thinking through unhampered dialogue that builds on each other’s contributions
  8. Improves communication, since egos are not threatened and people are never personally attacked
  9. Improves decision making, because attention is given to all aspects of a problem/opportunity (pros, cons, gains, risks, etc.)

The Hats may be used in many different sequences depending on the nature of the issue. But here is a typical agenda for a situation where a problem has just surfaced and a fix is needed within the next half hour. The team leader will facilitate by wearing the Blue Hat and lead the team of 5 workers through the thinking process.

1 COMMENT

  1. The array of persona hats, especially de Bono’s active early inclusion of emotions, sets up as a really useful CX design, execution, continuity, and sustainability metaphor. My only observation with regard to the nine benefits you cite is that all stakeholders in the customer experience – especially customers, prospects, former customers, suppliers, and employees (irrespective of level, function, or location) – should be identified as participants and contributors.

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