The Only White Guy in the Room by @SJYeates


By Stephen Yeates


The Only White Guy in the Room


A good five months ago (or possibly more), Marc asked us which of De Bono’s 6 thinking hats we all thought we naturally wore.


The following colours are covered in the structured thinking system, and for varying types of musing…


black: critical thinking 

white: data/information mining

red: addressing gut feelings

yellow: the search for benefits in an idea

green: creativity and building on the idea(s)

blue: process, planning, next steps.


Of nearly 40 of us, I was the only one to stand up as a white hat thinker.


It was a mildly uncomfortable experience. But around a month or so ago, I’d forgotten my hat altogether. And that was a massive mistake. The white hat is obviously not as cool a hat as green, or red, but it has its place. 


Thankfully, Rory Sutherland came in to talk today. And when I say ‘talk’, I mean completely captivate and inspire the entire room. And at times, to me he echoed a Ted talk by Simon Sinek, who claimed that starting with ‘why’ (as opposed to ‘how’ or ‘what’), is a great way to approach briefs, business ideas or challenges in general. And, as Rory enlightened, if you keep asking why, you sometimes find that solutions have little by way of a direct relationship to the original problem you’re tackling. Or at least to the way a problem may have been originally expressed.


It led me to thinking that, whilst there are other hats that can aid the above approach, the white hat would’ve led me, personally, there a lot more often. And I’d ditched it. Like a blunted, wheezing sharpie struggling to deliver its final border. 


So it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but those 6 thinking hats are, in my view, a quick path to clear and constructive breakthroughs when a shit tonne of briefs and deadlines are getting all up in your creative grills.


And the best way to remember to use them, is to keep reminding yourself of the hat you were when you started.

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