Every so often you read a book that is so obvious that you are amazed you did not see it before. For me, this is such a book. Yes, I could argue about the slow nature of the book, about the style or choice of phrase. However, the very simple idea (singular) at the core hit me like a billiard ball between the eyes at three paces.
De Bono takes the idea of thinking, and breaks it down into six different aspects, and proposes that all should be allowed at appropriate times in a meeting. The key is not that (say) raw emotion can be expressed unjustified, but that where necessary such feelings are not only encouraged, but that it is an everybody thing. Participants are allowed to express a simple yes / no to an idea with no further comments. This, by the way, is 'red hat thinking'.
Each aspect of thinking is given a colour, so participants will wear the SAME hat at the same time, to view topics from a similar perspective. There is no compelling reason to have physical hats, but presumably this may help initially. Examining each proposal in a critical way is allowed, but not all the way through any discussion - only at 'blackhat' time.
This is a short, easy-read book. It would be possible to give a summary here of the six hats, and their meanings – however, it is better to let de Bono do that. Chapters are small and bite-sized, with an introduction and summary to each coloured hat. You do not need to read the book in one sitting, but it is probably advisable to tackle the 170 pages within 2 or 3 days.
The author has written a number of other books on 'thinking', and these are referred to in the text of the volume. For me, the references were about right - neither too many (a sales pitch) or too few (not giving readers the opportunity to get further information). What did irritate me was the summary chapters for each hat, where the majority of sentences seemed to begin with e.g. "Blue hat thinking ..".
At the end de Bone gives a possible framework for using the principles within a meeting. This is helpful, and adds to the comments and examples throughout the text. The overall feel is that this is a book about thinking that is based in reality.
My final thoughts concern interminable meetings I have attended, and national flags. Use of the core idea of this thin volume would have saved man-months of my time, sometimes concluding that a meeting was not necessary. The national flag theme? Take a South African flag into meetings with you. This will remind you of the thinking hats, for the colours are the same.
Buy it, learn it, practice it, and do it.
Peter Morgan, Bath, UK (email@example.com)