Effective Problem Solving In Multicultural Teams



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The Edward de Bono‘s Six Thinking Hats method is a very practical approach to problem solving, making decisions and exploring new ideas.

Although it has not been specifically designed for multicultural teams, this tool is very effective for making the most of various thinking modes from people having different cultural backgrounds.

The Basics: There are six different imaginary hats that you can put on or take off. Each hat is a different color and represents a different type or mode of thinking. • Everybody wear the same hat (do the same type of thinking) at the same time. • When you change hats – you change our thinking.

The Benefits of Six Thinking Hats: 1. Provides a common language, 2. Allow diversity of thought , 3. Use more of our brains, 4. Removal of ego (reduce confrontation), 5. Focus (one thing at a time), 6. Save time, 7. Create, evaluate & implement action

The Coach Role : The coach or facilitator wears the Blue Hat. He defines the focus of the thinking, by asking questions like: Why we are here • What we are thinking about • Definition of the situation or problem • Alternative definitions • what we want to achieve • where we want to end up • What is the background to the thinking What we want to take away • What we want to achieve • Outcome • Conclusion • Design • Solution • Next steps •The coach plans the sequence and timing of the thinking • Ask for changes in the thinking • Handle requests from the group • Form periodic or final summaries of the thinking for consideration by the team

Participant’s Role • Follow the lead of the coach:• Stick to the hat (type of thinking) that is in current use • Try to work within the time limits • Contribute honestly & fully under each of the hats.

White Hat Thinking: 1. Neutral, objective information 2. Facts & figures 3. Questions: what do we know, what don’t we know, what do we need to know 4. Excludes opinions, judgments 5. Removes feelings & impressions

Green Hat Thinking :1. New ideas, 2.Concepts, 3.Perceptions 4.Deliberate creation of new ideas and Alternatives. 5. New approaches to problems • 6. Creative & lateral

Yellow Hat Thinking 1. Positive & speculative 2. Positive thinking, optimism, opportunity 3. Benefits 4. Best-case scenarios 5. Exploration

Black Hat Thinking: 1.Negative, critical judgement, 2.focus on errors, 3.Pessimistic view, 4. focus on why it won’t work

Red Hat Thinking :1. Emotions & feelings 2. Intuitions, impressions 3. Doesn’t have to be logical or consistent 4. No justifications, reasons or basis 5. All decisions are emotional in the end

Hats sequence in meetings: Hats can be used in different sequences depending on the expected outcome of the meeting. For example , you can use this sequence to explore a case:

1. Coach (Blue Hat) Open the discussion, Clarifying the problem •
2. Present the facts of the case (White Hat). •
3. Generate ideas, how the case could be handled (Green Hat). •
4. Evaluate the merits of the ideas, List benefits (Yellow Hat). •
5. List drawbacks (Black Hat). •
6. Get everybody gut feeling about the alternatives (Red Hat). •
7. Summaries, action plans, what’s next ?

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About Anne Egros, Expat Life, Career & Executive Coach

Zest and Zen is a blog about Global Leadership, Intercultural Communication, Expat Life, Health, Nutrition, Change Psychology
This entry was posted in Coaching, communication, creativity, Cross cultural, Executive Coaching, Global Executives, innovation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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