A woman walks into her favourite café for a coffee and leaves with six thinking hats


The woman fell into her favourite café, not rushing, just completely missing the small step at the entrance, as she pushed open the door.  She could feel herself blush, even though no one had seen her, and brushed a quick smile across her face to lighten the moment for herself.

There was a small queue of people ordering their favourite drinks, across the spectrum of the menu.  She was busy heading down the rabbit hole that was her phone, when she heard a cheeky grin, if you can ‘hear’ grins.

Nice entrance.

She looked up to a flood of green. The barista was dressed head-to-toe in a green track suit with distinctive white stripes down the side. So caught up in finding signs of life within her phone, the woman had missed the numerous comments from the other customers about his choice of outfit for today.  The barista even had a green cap with, she presumed, the name of his favourite sports team.

Before you ask me if it’s St Patricks Day, you already know the answer to that, and if you don’t, the answer is ‘no’. Look I’ve even got green shoes. He lifted one leg up as high as he could, and she leaned over the counter. There they were!

It’s the end of the week, and I knew I’d make you green – well at least I made myself green. He paused.Green hat. The barista pointed to his cap and then reached under the counter and presented a tiny green top hat. It had a logo and writing on it“Dr Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats®”.

Are there other ways to do this? The barista asked.

The green hat is about possibilities, new ideas, new ways of looking at the challenge or opportunity. We are seeking alternatives and removing blame or fault.  Our ideas should be positive, can be crazy, seemingly unreachable, and we can generate lots of them. ‘Meetings on the moon’ is completely OK thinking for the green hat.

The green barista turned away and made the woman’s drink.

How to have more productive, meaningful team meetings. Green hat, she whispered to herself.

He handed her a take away cup. It smelled different, this was not her favourite drink. The woman frowned.

I thought, in theme with green hat, we’d explore the possibilities of your palate, something new.

She went to protest, at heart, a resister to change.

Are there other ways to do this? The barista asked. The green hat is about possibilities, new ideas, new ways of looking at the challenge or opportunity. We are seeking alternatives and removing blame or fault.

It’s on the house, and I’ll get a coffee delivered to your work place if it is too traumatic an experience for you.

The woman smiled at the barista, holding the unknown drink in her hand.

Your ideas? He asked

I found it hard, not many were new or radically different, but they would be new for our team.  Sorry, the ideas weren’t very crazy, maybe I don’t have a big imagination?

The barista reassured the woman: Don’t apologise, that’s pretty common, don’t let your gut instinct get in the way of green hat thinking. Especially when we don’t do this in the different areas of our life. We might work in a highly creative job, and yet get stuck when thinking about a new idea for dinner.

While the barista crafted the order for the next customer in the queue, the woman quietly revealed her green hat thinking:

·     Dress up

·     Declare “today we will hold a more productive meeting” at the start

·     Meetings with no talking only thought bubbles

·     Adjust cards from yoga – ‘yes’ ‘no’. To keep meeting content to closed questions.

·     Pay deducted if take longer 

·     Extend working day if takes longer

·     Leave early if finish meeting early

·     Timer – electric shock if we go beyond time

·     $1 million bonus for everyone if finish on time

GreatAll of these are great green hat ideas. It’s important to include all of your ideas – although the electric shock and deducting pay don’t sound very positive. We’ll leave them for now. 

You can use all of the other hats to complete your good work and play with an idea that might work.The barista put the other five tiny top hats on the bench, while handing the next take away coffee to a confused looking customer.

In a word what does each hat do or represent as far as thinking?

The woman paused briefly and reflected over her week:

  • Blue is the structure or focus.
  • White is the facts.
  • Red is our gut instinct.
  • Yellow is the benefits of an idea.
  • Black is the risks.
  • Green is new ideas.

Very good, affirmed the barista. Using the blue hat, are we still focused on the right area, our focus statement?

The woman nodded.

To narrow your green hat idea, use the red hat. Using your gut instinct which two ideas appeal the most?

There’s a couple but I do like the idea of a reward for finishing the meetings on time.

Excellent! The barista smiled. You can always test this idea with yellow hat and black hat thinking. And summarise the whole process with the blue hat once more.

They paused.  The woman took a sip of her drink, the new flavor confused her slightly.  The barista waited nervously for her reaction, which was a small, unsure smile.  The woman then beamed.

Thank you.  She tapped each of the tiny top hats as though acknowledging the work they had done, and reached across to the barista to flick his green cap.

You really got me thinking, and now it’s time to take some action.

I’m stoked! Good luck, and have a great weekend. The woman left her favourite café.

How’s your Friday panning out?Asked the barista.