Stealing The Way Creative Geniuses Think

Dwayne Walker
December 25, 2022

You can hack your way to being “smart’ by stealing the way smart people think.

Intelligent people use mental systems to process decisions, problem solve, and think efficiently. Creative geniuses also have systems of generating and evaluating their ideas.

Today, I want to share a creative mental system, developed by Edward de Bono, that exercises your brain the most.

When you break down the way people think you’ll start to see patterns that can be grouped into categories. Edward de Bono identified five different groups of thinkers: factual, emotional, divergent, pessimistic and optimistic. He saw value in each of these styles of thinking.

The “Six Thinking Hats” mental system teaches you how to effectively juggle these different kinds of thinking to achieve creative clarity. Here’s how it works.

Each different thinking style pairs with one out of six imaginary hats. The object is to wear only one hat for an allotted amount of time while embodying the creative character of that hat. Cycling through all the hats allows your mind plenty of time to look at your problem from every angle.

This mental system works beautifully with groups of people, too. Assign each persona hat that matches their natural strengths and watch the magic work.

Let’s look at these hats in greater detail:

  • White Hat is factual thinking. It involves looking at nothing but the facts of the problem, using data that is available.
  • Red Hat is emotional thinking. Examine your gut feelings and see what messages they are sending up to you.
  • Black Hat is pessimism. Playing the Devil’s advocate allows you to attempt to reveal flaws that need improvement. This will make your solutions to your creative challenges more multifaceted and cautious.
  • Yellow Hat is positive thinking. This helps provide the hope and motivation needed to carry tasks to completion. Identifying the best-case scenarios will help you respond to unexpected success with speed and efficiency.
  • Green Hat requires divergent thinking. Scale back rules and constraints you may have imposed on yourself and work with the flaws identified by the Black Hat. Examine the challenge from different perspectives, and find novel combinations of ideas from other domains.
  • Blue Hat is responsible for shifting between all the hats and ‘running the show,’ so to speak. You gave all the hats their moment to shine. It’s time to combine everything you learned into one concrete solution.

Use this mental system when you are trying to tackle creative challenges and watch how much value you get from each new perspective.

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