Written by ZOOZ
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| Issue 83|
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Ari Manor, CEO,
Methods and tools for managing innovation
Six Thinking Hats – Black Hat and Green Hat
The Six Thinking Hats method was developed was Edward de Bono, and is outlined
in this book. The method facilitates a civilized and in-depth discussion and comprehensive mapping of complex and controversial ideas. The discussion is carried out using six different types of thinking, each represented by a different-colored hat, which we will describe separately.
Previous columns described the
Red Hat (emotion), the
Yellow Hat (optimistic rational thinking), and the
White Hat (facts and findings).
We will now describe the Black Hat and the
The Black Hat represents judgment, playing the devil’s advocate and discussing what’s bad about an idea and what problems it creates. Judgment with this hat is meant to be rational, logical and objective.
The Green Hat represents creativity and alternatives: how the original idea can be changed, improved or refined. The suggestions made with the Green Hat do not have to be logical, at least not during the first stage.
We will present both hats here,
together, because we recommend working with them together: raising a problem with the black and judgmental hat, and
immediately afterward suggesting solutions to the problem using the green and creative hat. Thus, every problem raised is then used to refine the idea, rather than disqualify it. If, instead of combining the hats, we would first work only with the Black Hat and raise a long line of problems without solving any of them, the discussion would probably discourage the participants and they might abandon the idea altogether.
Therefore, at this stage, the participants are asked to present one problem at a time (with the Black Hat), and then propose creative ideas on how to deal solve it using the Green Hat. Then, another problem is raised, which is also tackled with the Green Hat, and so on and so forth.
- The topic under discussion: Moving the
company’s production to China
- Black Hat: What problems can we anticipate if we move production to China?
We will be forced to fire production workers in Israel.
Before we move to other problems, let’s try and tackle this problem using the Green Hat.
- Green Hat: Raising creative ideas for having to dismiss workers in Israel.
Sarah: We can relocate some managers from here to China and open up a few positions in Israel. This will enable us to promote outstanding production workers to management positions.
We can make a gradual transition to production in China, and accordingly dismiss workers here in Israel, gradually and carefully.
What’s wrong with firing workers? It happens in a lot of places. Why is it a problem?
Discussion facilitatorh: Seth, even if you’re right, Mitch sees it as a problem. It’s much easier and wiser to help him tackle the difficulty he is experiencing rather than convincing him that he’s wrong and that it’s not really a problem at all…
Seth: OK. Then I’ll try and think of a creative idea! Maybe we can relocate workers to some of the other factories in our Group.
Bob: We can also give generous severance packages to the outstanding employees.
Zoe: I’m going to wear a Yellow Hat for what Bob just said – generous severance packages can definitely help us with the labor unions.
Rachel: We can also make the transition to a four-day work week. That way, we won’t have to fire anyone
Discussion facilitatorh: Excellent! We’ve raised several options for tackling the issue of employee dismissals. Let’s raise and tackle a different problem that’s related to moving our production to China.
- Black Hat: Second problem…
Green Hat: Solutions for the second problem…
Remember that the Six Thinking Hats is a method designed to discuss complex and controversial ideas. Therefore, problems are expected. Creative ideas “break the rules” and the status quo, and therefore they naturally generate problems as well. However, using the Six Hats method we attempt to
exhaust such ideas and explore their full potential.
Therefore, in order to properly tackle the problems, it’s best to raise only
one problem at a time, and then tackle that problem using the Green Hat. Raising a long list of problems may only cause the participants to despair.
Also, with regards to timing, it’s best to use the Black Hat and the Green Hat at an advanced stage of the discussion, when emotion (Red Hat), benefit (Yellow Hat), and facts (White Hat) have already been discussed. This way, participants will have more patience to tackle the problems.
Organizations differ greatly from each other in their ability to raise and implement creative and complex ideas:
- In one organization, when someone raises a creative and complex problem, everyone immediately dons the Black Hat and kills the idea. Such an organization cannot be creative.
- In another organization, when someone raises a creative idea – the others identify the problems stemming from it and attempt to solve it, but in routine ways. Creativity will be limited in such an organization. Very creative or controversial ideas will not be promoted here.
- In another organization, when someone raises a creative and complex idea – others try to creatively tackle the problems stemming from it. This, on its own, creates other problems that must also be tackled. And even if these secondary problems are solved in routine and uncreative ways, this organization still has a better chance of promoting creative and complex ideas
- And finally, in an extremely creative organization – the managers and employees are optimistic and believe that “there is a light at the end of the tunnel” and that the Green Hat will lead to it. They are therefore capable of creatively tackling a complex problem, also creatively solving the secondary problems, and persevering with creative solutions even when dealing with “third wave” and “fourth wave” problems, and so forth, until a comprehensive solution is reached. Such an organization is truly capable of developing very creative solutions, which other organizations will have a difficult time copying.
In summary: When the Black Hat and the Green Hat are used in tandem, the group can gradually expand and refine the original idea, tackle the associated difficulties and problems, and increase their chances of successfully implementing the idea.
Concluding remark: If
a rarity occurs at the beginning of the “hats” discussion,
where all the participants are in favor of and excited about
an idea that is raised, the Black Hat should be donned
immediately. This will enable us to check that we haven’t
missed something in all the excitement, and perhaps even
avoid serious problems later on.
We will describe the sixth and final hat, the Blue Hat, in the next edition of this column.
for a book on leading changes processes can be found
articles on Systematic Innovation
can be found
Systematic Innovation can be
Information about Six Thinking Hats workshops can be found
here (page 13 of Hebrew PDF file).
What's new at ZOOZ
Strategic Growth Directions
Every organization wants to
grow, yours probably included. And in order to move in a
growth direction, you may urgently need to make strategic
decisions that will help you focus on promising growth
directions. Unfortunately however, such decisions are not
easy to make or implement.
You can take an external
consulting company that will study your organization and
market, and then place a thick report with conclusions and
recommendations on your desk. But to implement such a report,
you will need to change the way you work. Unfortunately, in
most cases, reports written by external entities are not
strong enough motivators to generate real change.
You can also try to hold
internal management discussions and make decisions on your
own. However, you may lack perspective and be unable to
overcome erroneous perceptions and intra-organizational
politics. The outcome may be an unsatisfactory compromise,
and therefore – once again – refraining from real change.
For several years now, ZOOZ has
been offering a fairly quick and effective alternative:
Assisting and facilitating
management in identifying strategic growth directions.
This process generally includes
three days with the company’s management, in weekly or bi-monthly
sessions. Here is a description of the process we facilitate
in these sessions:
On the first day we characterize the current situation (including a SWOT analysis and analysis of the current market, competition and competitors). We then set
business goals for the following years. And finally – we raise ideas for potential strategic growth directions, from criteria for “good” directions (a large enough, growing, leveraging market, etc.), and we choose several leading directions that may meet these criteria.
On the second day the participants present presentations they have prepared for this day. Each presentations presents one strategic direction, details whether and how each of the directions is compatible with the determined criteria, and elaborates on the active “players” in the relevant industry. In light of what is presented, the participants select one or two industries that should be explored further.
On the third day more
information about the one or two remaining industries is
presented, and a decision is made regarding which to
pursue. Afterwards, an in-depth discussion is conducted
about the selected industry using
de Bono’s Six Thinking
Hats, a final decision is made whether to pursue this
direction, and if the answer is affirmative –a
preliminary work plan is also developed, which the
management will later implement.
This method combines our facilitation, methodology and external perspective, and the experience, involvement and independent work of the company’s management. Consequently, the management’s knowledge and involvement increases and their decision making improves. When a new strategy is eventually formed, it is usually a more practical and correct strategy, and more importantly – management is more committed to it, thereby also increasing the chances that it will be implemented properly
We have facilitated the process described above with a wide variety of industries, including at:
Terraflex (irrigation pipes),
Tuff Merom-Golan (growth substrates),
Zmitut 81 (stone and mineral processing),
SZP (hard plastic packaging),
Carmel Container Systems (paper packaging solutions), Liram Exclusive (Keds Kids, children’s fashion),
Ofek (aerial photography),
Paskal (plastic products for agriculture),
FibroLAN (communication solutions), and the
Starry Group (OEM manufacturers in China).
So if you also prefer combining your knowledge and involvement with our experience and facilitation capabilities – we would be happy to help your organization grow using a similar process. Please
contact us for more information.
More information about ZOOZ
can be found
For more information about the strategic growth directions process,
advertisement and its logic behind it
Look Me in the Eye
Activation logic, which was
described in this column in the past, elicits the viewer
to conduct a small and quick experiment to demonstrate
the message that the advertisement wishes to convey.
It’s impossible not to get a
little confused when you look at this ad, perhaps even feel
a little dizzy and the onset of nausea and a headache.
This is exactly what a driver
feels like when he’s intoxicated: blurred vision and
And that’s exactly what the ad
wants to demonstrate: It’s not a good idea to drive this way!
And the text at the bottom of the ad clinches it: Don’t
Drink and Drive!
Advertisements that use
Activation logic are more effective than regular ads. They
convey their messages in a much more tangible and powerful
Activation is a particularly
useful logic when you want to draw attention to an
unpleasant issue that most people would rather ignore, such
as car accidents, dandruff, constipation, roaches, aging,
burial plots, etc. The experiment enables people to
experience the problem (or its solution) in a very tangible
way so that they cannot ignore the issue, and immediately
internalize the message.
How would you, for example, try
to convince people that it is important to take out life
insurance, using an activation logic advertisement? Please
send us your ideas.
Information about Creative Advertising
18 of a Hebrew PDF booklet).