Thinking Hats

Discuss a topic profoundly and understand different perspectives. Make a decision after you have learned about different viewpoints.

To discuss a topic deeply understanding different perspectives.


Edward de Bono (1933 – 2021) was an authority in creative thinking and innovation. Having studied psychology, physiology, and medicine, he taught at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard. He developed the Six Thinking Hats to foster creative thinking and better decision-making. The tool presented here is a simplified form following de Bono and has proven successful in many team and group conversations.

When to Use

When a group of people needs to decide on a controversial issue or wants to ensure that all perspectives on a topic are heard. 

Number of Participants: 4 to 12

Time: 40′ per case

Setting: online and face-to-face


  • Everyone is an equal participant who puts on one of the three hats.
How to Run It

Using Thinking Hats:

  • There are three thinking hats in the room, which can be represented by cards in different colors of real hats. The three hats are:
    • The Dreamer: When you wear this hat, you run with your optimistic imagination. You create a colorful and positive future for the topic you are discussing. There are no limitations to your imagination. 
    • The Realist: When wearing the Realist Hat, you think about the practicability of the issue, what it takes to realize it, the resources and expertise required, etc. Money, time, and stakeholder perspectives are good inputs.
    • The Critic: When wearing this hat, you question the practicability of the issue. You point out the potential risks and the associated dangers.
  • You start the exercise by presenting a topic, issue, or solution with all the facts you have. Take about ten minutes for it. Focus on the known facts, not on assumptions.
  • Then, for ten minutes, everyone argues and questions the topic as a dreamer. All people present need to put on the Dreamer Hat and argue from that perspective – even if it contradicts their own beliefs.
  • This is followed by ten minutes of discussing the issue with the Realist Hat on. Again, everyone needs to make their argument as a realist. 
  • This is followed by ten minutes of speaking about the topic as a critic. 
  • It is helpful to write down the contributions of each round.
  • Timing each round with a timer is helpful.
  • After these three rounds, the group discusses what they have learned from the different perspectives. What impact did it have on your initial thinking on the topic? What has changed?
  • Only now you get a step closer to taking a decision. 
Further Material