The six thinking hats can be a bit daunting at first. Consider just two hats:
Person A comes up with a new idea and is really enthusiastic about it. Before the idea is even slightly fleshed out, Person B immediately comes up with every possible reason why the idea won’t work. Person A gets demoralized, and doesn’t want to talk to Person B. Person B doesn’t understand why their generous dollop of objective criticism has been rejected. Not a productive collaboration!
Using De Bono’s terminology, Person A had the green (“new ideas”) hat on, and Person B had the black (“critical thinking”) hat on. A more productive strategy would be for both Person A and Person B to spend the first few minutes with a green hat on, and then both flip to the black hat. By having at least one person consciously steer and direct the thinking process, people avoid talking at cross-purposes, the conversational flow is improved, and a better outcome is reached.
To some extent we all naturally adjust our mindset according to context. If you’re giving a eulogy you know it demands something resembling more of a yellow hat mindset (“positive thinking”), rather than the black hat (“critical thinking”). So in a sense there’s nothing new about the idea of wearing different hats. I think perhaps the biggest value De Bono adds is to elevate what’s often an instinctive process to a conscious one.
I had been uninterested in reading the original post, but this comment changed that. The concrete example makes the abstract concept clear.
I had the same experience.