There are many challenges in the life of an entrepreneur. It’s equal parts stressful and rewarding. Looking into my friends’ experiences, I’ve noticed that while there’s always that enthusiasm at the start. However, it tends to falter as, inadvertently, issues arise.

This is when many ask themselves, “why didn’t I just keep my corporate job where somebody else had to deal with problem-solving? At least there were clear procedures about what to do”.

It’s totally understandable because even though your online course business gives you the freedom to do what you love in the way that you think it’s best, the burden of solving problems is also on you. One way of approaching challenging issues is to employ Edward DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats technique.

What’s with the hats?

Based on the concept of lateral thinking, DeBono’s 1985 book introduces an innovative problem-solving model. The hats are illustrative of six different mindsets, each bringing a fresh perspective on the issue at hand.

Often, knowledge entrepreneurs are solopreneurs or only have one person to turn to for advice. The great thing about using this is that it works both in a group – where each participant is “wearing” a different color – and for individual dilemmas.


Read more: How to choose the right co-instructor for an online course


You can go through this parallel thinking process by yourself by switching mindsets. In this way, you get a full picture of the issue and its potential resolutions. Moreover, it’s best to use good old pen and paper to jot down the different ideas and look at them once you’ve tried all the hats on.

Here’s how each of them works:

The Blue Hat

This one is the managerial hat. Therefore, this will mean looking at the different aspects of the issue or the process. When the method is applied in a collaborative setting, the wearer will coordinate the proceedings. For individual problem-solving sessions, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the issue?
  • What outcomes do I want to achieve?
  • What’s the most effective way of dealing with the problem?
  • What are the benefits of solving this problem?

The White Hat

In this model, white is the color of hard data. Consequently, the focus is on looking at all the available information – numbers, statistics, verified facts, observable trends. Opinions and gut feelings have no place here. It’s not about brainstorming or getting creative and throwing around ideas but gathering as much “evidence” as possible. Questions to ask now are:

  • What do I know right now?
  • What pieces of information are still missing?
  • What are the sources from where I could find out more about the issue?

The Yellow Hat

It’s no coincidence that this hat is the color of sunshine. Wearing this is equivalent to looking on the bright side of things. Accordingly, even if this is a problem-solving endeavor, it’s important to see the positive side of the situation. Questions to answer here are:

  • What are the possible positive outcomes of the situation?
  • What the best way to approach the issue?
  • What are the long-term benefits of dealing with this right now?

The Red Hat

Crimson is the color of passion, and emotions are precisely what matters to the individual wearing this. Intuition and gut feeling play a significant role in making business decisions, especially for entrepreneurs who know that their heart needs to be in it for the business to succeed. Some of the questions in this section are:

  • How do I feel about this situation?
  • What’s my gut feeling about this?
  • Am I in any way conflicted internally about the issue?

The Black Hat

Optimism is great, but there is a lot to be said for looking at the half-empty part of the glass. Putting this hat on requires bringing forth your cautious side and looking for things that might not work or can go wrong. Indeed, troubleshooting is all about finding the trouble first. Here’s what to answer:

  • Is everything worth the cost?
  • Will the plan really work?
  • What could fail?

The Green Hat

The last hat is all about creativity. It’s the time to brainstorm and hone in on your innovative streak. You can deal with rules and limitations later. Thus, green hat wearers think out of the box to develop unique solutions and action plans. To get the creative juices flowing, ask:

  • What is another way to deal with this?
  • What is the opposite of what everybody else would do?
  • What’s my personal view on the issue?

Closing thoughts

Few problems are genuinely without a solution. It’s just difficult sometimes to find it because we get so caught up in our own perspective and reality. The Six Thinking Hats method offers a way out of the conundrum – by assuming various roles and positions, you can get a clearer image and find the answer to pressing items or at least get a whole lot closer to it.

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