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Find information about a range of approaches to managing organisational change – from Action Learning Sets, to the 7s model.

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To view more click on the name of the model to expand to view more, including description, use, and strengths and limitations.

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  • De Bono creative thinking


    The ‘creative thinking’ approach is a tool for stimulating focused group discussion and individual thinking. It builds on the assumption that the human brain may respond to challenges in six distinctive ways:

    • Information (White) – the facts at hand
    • Emotions (Red) – intuitive reactions of emotional feeling
    • Discernment (Black) – logic of caution
    • Optimism (Yellow) – logic of possible benefits
    • Creativity (Green) – investigation of possibilities
    • Meta thinking (Blue) – a combination of the other types

    Each of these responses may be harnessed to encourage reflection on a specific problem / challenge / question. By organising participants to consider the problem specifically from each of the six perspectives, the group will be more creative in their response to the problem. The metaphor of ‘ix thinking hats’ is adopted to describe the ordered use of the six approaches in an agreed sequence.


    The creative thinking process:

    • Successful use of the approach requires the adoption of the right ‘hat’ as required in sequence, to review the nature of the presenting problem; develop a set of solutions; and finally select the course of action
    • The meeting opens form a ‘blue’ hat (meta-thinking) perspective, to agree the conduct of the meeting and the goals;
    • The group then considers their response to the issue from a ‘red’ hat (emotion) perspective, to collect reactions to the problem, and any constraints on possible solutions;
    • Discussion moves to yellow (optimism) and then green (creativity) thinking explore options and possible solutions
    • Discussion then follows from white (information) and black (discernment) perspectives, to explore the development of ideas and problems in the solution set

    (Adapted from De Bono, 1985)

    Strengths and limitations

    The principal strength of the approach is its structuring of thought process is in group situations. In usual practice ct proposals will be considered from each of the prespectives identified each at the same time; so that while participant X considers the potential of a situation (yellow), participant Y considers the potential problems (black). This can prove to be destructive, especially where there are status distinctions between participants and / or ego clashes. This is largely avoided under the ‘hats’ method, in which everyone present considers the issue from the same perspective at the same time, and remain focused on the task. However, conflict may result if the process is poorly facilitated – participants may feel ‘railroaded’ if there is not time to consider the problem from all of the perspectives during the course of the meeting. In relation to social care change such creative thinking can help to free up stakeholders from their usual perspectives and enable them to jointly develop more innovative responses.

    Further reading

    1. De Bono, E. (1985) Six thinking hats, London: Little Brown and Company