Do you ever get stuck in a rut, unable to think of new ideas? This is often caused by functional fixedness, which is when you become attached to the way things are supposed to be done and can't see beyond that. The six thinking hats technique can help overcome functional fixedness and allow you to come up with innovative new product ideas. In this blog post, we will discuss how the six thinking hats work and give you some tips on how to overcome functional fixedness using this technique!
What is functional fixedness?
Functional fixedness refers to a common human tendency to rely on traditional uses of an object or concept, rather than thinking creatively about its potential uses. For example, you might be sitting at your desk one day when your pen runs out of ink. Due to functional fixedness, most people would simply reach for another pen, without stopping to consider whether there might be other ways to write with that particular object.
In psychology, this narrow-minded approach is explained as being the result of a cognitive bias: once we become focused on a particular goal or purpose, it becomes difficult to see beyond that particular use of an object. While functional fixedness can certainly be frustrating and limiting in many different situations, understanding this cognitive bias can also be helpful in allowing us to step outside of our habitual ways of thinking and approach new challenges with greater creativity and flexibility.
What are the six thinking hats?
The six thinking hats technique is a powerful tool that can help you overcome functional fixedness by encouraging you to think about problems from a variety of different perspectives. This can sometimes be difficult, as we often become stuck in our own ways of thinking and struggle to see things in new ways. But with the six thinking hats approach, you can step out of your usual way of looking at things and actively explore new possibilities and solutions.
Each 'hat' in the six thinking hats technique represents a different type of thinking: white hat denotes data-driven thinking, red is for passion and emotion, yellow represents optimism and creativity, green stands for prudence and caution, blue is for logic and reason, and black is for scepticism and negativity. By making yourself consciously aware of these different styles of thought, you can more easily shift between them when tackling complex challenges. This allows you to try out innovative new ideas or analyse them from multiple angles, fostering greater clarity, creativity, and productivity.
The six thinking hats are:
- White hat: what is currently known about the problem?
- Red hat: what are the emotions associated with the problem?
- Yellow hat: what are the positive aspects of the problem?
- Black hat: what are the negative aspects of the problem?
- Green hat: what are some possible solutions to the problem?
- Blue hat: how can we implement these solutions?
How can the six thinking hats help overcome functional fixedness?
Functional fixedness is one of the most pernicious cognitive biases, making it difficult to come up with new and innovative solutions to problems. However, by using the six thinking hats technique, we can overcome this bias and approach challenges in a more flexible and creative manner.
With this technique, we consciously shift between different styles of thought depending on the type of information we need. For example, if we are trying to explore potential risks or pitfalls associated with our solution, we might adopt a pessimistic "black hat" mindset. Conversely, if we want to focus on possibilities and opportunities, we might shift into a more optimistic "white hat" mode. By cycling through these different states of mind in a thoughtful and intentional way, we open ourselves up to new ideas and perspectives that could lead us down unexpected paths.
So whether you are stuck solving an organizational problem or looking for fresh approaches to scientific research, remember that even seemingly intractable challenges can be overcome using the simple yet powerful framework of the six thinking hats. With practice and intentionality, you can harness the power of this tool to help overcome functional fixedness and unlock your true creative potential!
Functional fixedness is a cognitive bias that can limit our ability to see beyond the usual uses of an object. However, by using the six thinking hats technique, we can overcome this bias and approach problems in a more flexible and creative manner. This powerful tool can help us to think about problems from different perspectives, fostering greater clarity, creativity, and productivity. With practice and intentionality, we can harness the power of this tool to help overcome functional fixedness and unlock our true creative potential!
- By taking on the role of the devil's advocate (i.e. the Black Hat), we force ourselves to think of all the potential risks associated with our solution. This helps us to overcome functional fixedness - the tendency to see objects only in terms of their usual functions. In addition, black hat thinking can help us to identify possible flaws in our thinking, and to adopt a more pessimistic mindset. While this may not sound like a recipe for success, it is actually an essential part of the creative process. By critically evaluating our ideas, we can ensure that they are as strong as possible before taking them out into the world.
- A White Hat is a type of thinking that is objective and unbiased. It allows you to look at data and evidence objectively and to think about what is currently known about the problem. This type of thinking can help you overcome functional fixedness by helping you to see the problem in a new light.
- The Blue Hat is all about thinking practically about how to overcome functional fixedness and put your ideas into action. This means thinking about the logistics of implementing your solution and what needs to be done to make it happen. It can be helpful to brainstorm with others who are also wearing blue hats to get some fresh perspectives on how to overcome any obstacles in your way.
- When it comes to solving problems or dealing with difficult situations, the key is to think outside the box. This can be challenging, especially if you tend to approach things in a rigid and inflexible way. But by using a Yellow Hat, or focusing on the positive aspects of your problem or solution, you can overcome any tendency toward functional fixedness. By looking for the silver lining in every situation and adopting an optimistic mindset, you can take yourself out of a negative mental rut and approach your challenges with fresh eyes and renewed energy.
- By using our imagination and visualizing different solutions, we can open ourselves up to new ideas and overcome any functional fixedness that may be holding us back. Whether it's considering a wild or unorthodox approach or simply broadening our perspective on the issue at hand, putting on a Green Hat can help us think creatively and come up with truly innovative solutions. And isn't that what we all want for ultimately solving our problems?
- When facing a problem or difficulty, it can often be tempting to approach the situation in a rigid and logical manner. However, approaching a problem with a more open and humanistic mindset can often yield more successful results. One way to do this is by using a Red Hat – that is, allowing yourself to fully experience and acknowledge the emotions associated with your problem. By doing so, you can better empathize with those who might be affected by your issue, gaining an important understanding of the human element of the situation. Additionally, having overcome functional fixedness in your thinking about the issue can also give you greater freedom as you work to find a solution.