Article , Infographics / Policy Innovation
Published: 17.03.2023

Public policy is a complex matter. In the interconnected web of economy, society, and politics, a single policy can affect numerous lives. Looking back at public health policies during the pandemic, it is evident that health policies also have to do with livelihoods, education, or even international relations. There are always a large number of people who are affected by a policy, even though we do not see nor think of them as stakeholders.

The essential question we need to ask becomes “how to design policy more creative yet realistic and practical?” 6 Thinking Hats can help you to think through 6 different views when ideate policy ideas.

What is this thinking technique?

The 6 Thinking Hats is a thinking tool invented by Dr. Edward de Bono intended for users of the tool to be able to think from diverse viewpoints which can lead to better-informed decision making. The tool is intended to encourage conversations as well since it identifies dimensions one needs to look at when faced with a problem. 

Here are the 6 Thinking Hats:

Each colour of the hats is symbolic of a set of thoughts. The colours are white, blue, yellow, black, and green.

  • When wearing the white hat, we need to think about “information and data.” This hat is symbolic of facts.
    • To wear this hat is to gather facts, information, observations and present them as they are.
  • When wearing the blue hat, we ask ourselves “how do we organise the work?” This hat is symbolic of planning and management.
    • Management here means looking for possibilities in designing a policy, assessing the current situations together with future trends, and developing a system that will help you design the policy under a specific environment.
  • When wearing the yellow hat, we think about “all the good things” and communicate the benefits and possibilities that can happen. This hat is symbolic of positivity.
  • When wearing the black hat, we think about “risks” and communicate the risks, threats and obstacles based on experiences and logical thinking. This hat is symbolic of discretion.
  • When wearing the red hat, we think about “what we are feeling” and communicate our sentiments and instincts. This hat is symbolic of emotion.
    • In terms of policy making, trying to understand feelings and emotions is to interpret a social context. When we understand the emotions behind people’ behaviours, we see a bigger picture. This means we can come up with a more creative policy.
  • When wearing the green hat, we think about “how to overturn the situation.” This hat is symbolic of creativity. 

Let’s take a look at the following scenario:

Your organisation used to have a “work from anywhere” policy. But the new organisation leader implements a new policy that forces everyone to come to the office at least 40 hours a week, claiming that working from anywhere makes staff unenthusiastic and quality of work goes bad.

Wearing the white hat (facts) we might ask the following questions…

  • Does working at the office really result in better performance and does working from anywhere result in worse performance?
  • Are there any statistics of facts to back up the claims?
    • If there is, is the information reliable or is it biassed towards an interest of a group?

Wearing the blue hat (planning and management) we might ask the following questions… 

  • How is the current situation? What are the internal and external factors we need to think about?

Wearing the yellow hat (positivity) we might ask the following questions… 

  • From a larger perspective, who benefits from this policy?
  • On an individual level, who benefits from such policy change?

Wearing the black hat (discretion) we might ask the following questions… 

  • How will the policy change affect the staff?
  • What are the long-term effects of the policy change?

 Wearing the red hat (emotion) we might ask the following questions… 

  • How do the staff feel about the new policy?
  • How will the new policy affect the work environment in your organisation?

Wearing the green hat (creativity) we might ask the following questions… 

  • How many resources are needed to enforce the policy?
  • How are we going to change the organisational structure?
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