The method starts from a concrete situation which will be discussed and ideally solved during a meeting. In the course of the meeting, the students will act according to the thinking style that has been assigned to them and by the end of it, there should be some concrete outcomes.
Preparation: Each group will get a problem to solve, for example business students should decide whether the university cafeteria should have fair trade coffee as the only choice in their offer. The group decides who should be the facilitator of the meeting of the Austrian Students Restaurant Association.
Discussion: By means of example, a meeting would typically have the following components:
- White Hat: gathers information about different prices, the current sales figures of traditional and fair trade coffee and so on.
- Green Hat: looks out for different approaches – for example one could opt for a mixed version of both fair trade and traditional coffee, frequent customer programmes or to launch the initiative at a different point in time.
- Yellow Hat: looks at it with a positive attitude and thinks of how to mainstream the fair trade product line.
- Black Hat: points out possible dangers of introducing fair trade coffee which might entail losses in sales or that people doubt the company’s commitment since fair trade is only being introduced for coffee.
- Red Hat: emotional take on things: “has a good feeling on introducing it in spring”.
- Blue Hat: looks out for follow-up activities and seeks to embed the fair trade policy into a broader, more strategic approach.
If there is more than one group, a feedback session will be useful in order to compare the outcomes of the meeting.
Didactical description of the method
Before starting the group discussion, the facilitator should elaborate on the different thinking styles and elicit reactions by the hats to given situations. A comprehensive description of the thinking styles has been attached to the document.
The different thinking styles should be assigned by drawing lots in order to prevent that somebody would opt for his/her hat of choice. Students get 15 min to prepare the role and read through the situation which has to be provided also. There can be several parallel groups.
The facilitator communicates the time frame for the discussion (e.g. 45 min), during the meeting the groups are responsible for their time management.
A final feedback session will give the opportunity to exchange the solutions and to also talk over how the students have dealt emotionally with their role.
A comprehensive description of the different thinking styles has been attached. The facilitator should provide a short summary of the situation which should be discussed in the meeting.