Thinking Managers

Edward de Bono of highlights the floors in using argument as a mechanism for deciding outcomes.

The Inadequacy of Argument

Argument is an inadequate means of exploring a subject; it is primitive, crude and inefficient.
For example, if it is deemed there is 5% wrong with an opposing argument, it is assumed that this must indicate error throughout and so all the effort is put into attacking that 5%.
Both sides of the argument might be weak.  But since argument assumes a winner and a looser, a view can prevail in spite of its weakness as argument has no mechanism for designing better positions.

Argument is bereft of design energy, and an intransigent presumption is made that if both positions are opposed, they will always remain so. Argument is therefore lacking in constructive energy.

Ego plays a big role in argument. It is considered a kind of victory if someone is proved wrong, and the ‘victor’ assumes an air of superiority.

Argument can also be extremely time-consuming, with relatively minor points constantly highlighted and attacked.

A much more effective and satisfactory way of exploring a subject is parallel thinking. An example of this is the Six Hats method I devised in 1985.

The method works like this: there are six hats and each represents a mode of thinking. For example, the white hat represents ‘information’, where participants decide exactly what information is necessary and ask questions to find out how it can be obtained. If the information turns out to be contradictory, it has to be put down without using argument.

The green hat takes care of creativity and new ideas, with people looking for alternatives, different possibilities and new thinking. The green hat encourages modification of ideas and perceptions.
The remaining four hats cover various different aspects of thinking. The key aspect is that at every moment, everyone at the meeting is wearing the same hat and thinking in parallel.

By using the Six Hats technique, everyone is challenged to use their thinking skills to their full capacity. Usually, someone in a meeting who is against an idea will use the whole session to attack it. Using the Six Hats method, that person can attack and criticise the idea as much as they want under the black hat. But when it is the turn of the yellow hat, they will have to focus on the value of the idea. If they can’t or won’t do this while everyone else can and will, they will appear foolish.
Learning techniques such as the Six Hats method can help an organisation improve its decision making.

About the author
Edward de Bono is the world's leading authority in the field of creative thinking and the teaching of thinking as a skill.