When was the last time you were unsatisfied with your lousy and unproductive meeting? If you said very often, well join the club 😉 Meeting King tells about an interesting statistic that 37 billion $ is spent annually just for unproductive meetings in US alone. It appears to be a tip of the ice berg, and there are more shocking facts.
This happens because of few reasons,
Imagine your last unproductive meeting when you read the following:
1. All the people in a team have their own standpoints and follow an argument way of thinking. Lets say a team consists of 6 people, often there is 6 different viewpoints and each talk from his/her perspective.
2. Everyone quickly comes up with a standpoint, (often without thinking) and later make statements to prove their standpoint right.
The above two reasons are the two basic and hopefully biggest flaws in any meeting and these are the anchors with which a solution is also built upon.
Edward De Bono, a world famous thinker/author/consultant says that, Human brain is capable of thinking in multi dimensions and genres but the constrain being one thing at a time. He has devised a simple methodology to deal with this, which is named as 6 hats of thinking. The concept behind this method is that, when the problem is analysed in one aspect at one point of time, and when being done over a period of time, the solution finally becomes evident, when everyone are together engaged. This is also often known as Parallel thinking.
The six hats are associated with each colour which signifies a different task to be done. The basic rules being, 1. None of them are allowed to make statements other than what belongs to the particular hat and everyone are expected to contribute to the discussion under that particular colour of hat’s discussion. 2. Time for each hat depends on the strength of the group, if for e.g., there are 10 people, you could allot 10 minutes for each hat. Although this time constrain is the minimum to be maintained, the facilitator can keep the session going as long as he/she thinks that it is worth to be.
A situation of a meeting, wherein top level management of a company XYZ is under a discussion of venturing into a new market is simulated to help you understand what happens under each session of hat. All the information presented here are imaginative, and my own example.
White hat – Collection of raw information and facts – Currently, the cellphone market is worth 5billion $. ABC predicts that it grows by 50% in the next 5 years. It is predicted that in the next 3 years, 50,000 more subscribers will be added.
Red hat – Outpour of feelings and emotions – the first thing that comes to your heart. (hunches/intuitions etc) – I feel that, the entry into new market gives the company an additional revenue of 10 million $. Something inside me says that, if we concentrate on the new market, we will make good profits, but at the cost of the already existing core business.
Black hat – Here comes the logic/critical thinking – analysing why something should or shouldn’t work – I can foresee that, we will not be the only new addition to the market, as at least 10 companies are likely to enter the market, whose core business are something related to the cellphone industry. So we may be kicked out soon; Looking at the trend of smartphones, new technology is added everyday, and we might have to acquire several small companies, buy a lot of patents and we might need more money than we have. So there is a risk of we going bankrupt if the coins are not moved properly.
Yellow hat – Optimistic views – bringing out the best part associated with the topic of discussion – reasons as to why it has to be done. The best part of being in this market is that, currently smartphones are expensive and if we manage to bring the value to the customers, for the money they pay, we will sustain for a long time, and could make huge profits in short period of time;
Green hat – “Creative thinking” shoving out your brain for ideas, alternative concepts for the problems that have identified out of black hat. There are a lot of ways of frugal innovations. We could hire the technology in the beginning, and later we could buy them; We could use android as OS so we don’t need to concentrate on building a new OS.; We could make a joint venture in the beginning to gain market entry and acceptance.
Blue hat – Control – This can be used initially, but must be used in the end of the thinking process, to give a final shape. It might be the opening hat to understand the subject of discussion, what has to be achieved and stuffs like that. The comments are usually made by the facilitator. So here, I summarise the outcomes of this meeting; we have identified the possible setbacks and advantages here; I feel we lack more facts and figures, we should have more white hat thinking again.
The order of using the thinking hats depends on the context of the thinking process, which can be gained through experience as the author suggests. It will definitely be worth to you to read the book, Six Thinking hats. More insights for sure will be uncovered.
Let me know how it works to you, and how it doesn’t. Good luck!