One Idea Group Session from Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono

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INTRODUCTION

This resource will help you to facilitate a short group session to learn from the One Idea Summary on ‘Six Thinking Hats’.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

  • Be able to describe each of the Six Thinking Hats.
  • Be able to demonstrate how to use the Six Thinking Hats by writing questions for each hat.

PREPARATION

Send a copy of the One Idea Summary on ‘Six Thinking Hats’ to the participants at least one week before the session. Tell them to read it before coming and bring it with them to the session.

THE SESSION

Introduce the session (5-minutes)

Introduce the session by sharing the learning objectives with them.

Review the meeting preparation steps (15-minutes)

Put them into pairs and give each pair flipchart paper and pens.

Tell each pair to review what they read from the One Idea Summary about the Six Thinking Hats and write a summary of their understanding of it on the flipchart paper provided. The summary should provide a quick description of each hat. Give them 10-minutes to write their summaries.

After 10-minutes stop them. Allow each pair to present their summaries back to the whole group.

When they finish feeding back their summaries, appreciate them and move on to do an activity where they will have to write questions to use the Six Thinking Hats to review a new report project which the team has been given.

Activity – Exploring the new report with the Six Thinking Hats (30-minutes)

Tell them that, ‘next we are going to do a short activity that will introduce us to using the Six Thinking Hats.’ To set up the activity split them into smaller teams. Each team should have no more than four people. Make sure each team has adequate flipchart paper and pens. Next read the information below to them. Tell them to write it down.

  • Brenda’s team has just been instructed to start producing a new management report on a monthly basis. Brenda is not happy about producing the report neither are her team. But they want to explore all angles of the report using the Six Thinking Hats approach.
  • In your group write at least one question that the Brenda who is wearing the blue hat can ask to explore the management report from the different perspectives that the hats focus on.
  • Also discuss and answer these questions, how should Brenda open the session? What can she say when wants to switch from one thinking hat to another?

Give them 15 minutes for the activity and ensure they write their answers on the flipchart paper provided.

After 15-minutes stop them. Allow each team to present their answers and listen to them without commenting. When they finish presenting, thank them for doing the work and present them to some sample answers from Brenda and her team.

It is a lot of information so having a printout they can read or emailing it to them is more appropriate, but you may have to read it.

Brenda: Introduces the session by telling them that, ‘our aim in this session is to explore the new report we have been told to produce to understand the best way to approach it. I will be using a technique called the Six Thinking Hats which will allow us to explore the report from different perspectives, focusing on one perspective at a time. I will be wearing the blue hat which is the facilitator’s hat. The first hat you are going to put on is the white hat. This hat deals mainly with facts and figures, so we want to look at any facts and figures you have about the report. What do we already know about this report?

Team answers: It is for the leadership team, it is to be produced monthly, it requires data from two other departments, it is currently produced by the marketing team.

Brenda: Now take of your white hats and put on a red hat. The red hat deals with the emotional perspective, in other words feelings. What are your feelings about our team producing this monthly report?

Team answers: It’s too much extra work, marketing should be doing it not us, it’s not fair, I’m not happy about it.

Brenda: I can see we have very strong feelings about the report and for the most part I agree with you. But we can’t avoid it.  So, I want you to put on a green hat. The green hat is about creativity and innovation and coming up with solutions and ideas. We need to think about the best ways to create this report to give the leadership team what they want and at the same time not be a burden on us. What do you think is the best way to produce this report in the least time yet with an excellent result?

Team answers: Ask marketing to show us how they did it, find a way to automate it, create a template that we can use all the time.

Brenda: Those are some good ideas and after this session we will draw up an action plan on what to do but I want you to take off your green hat and put on a black hat. This is the hat of caution where we look at potential challenges or weaknesses related to an issue or idea. Look at the ideas you presented and think about what their weaknesses may be.

Team answers: Marketing may not want to help us, Marketing may not have time to help us, their process may not be the right process for us, we may not have the skills to do the report, automation or creating a template may be too complicated.

Brenda: Thank you for that. It gives us something to think about. Let’s switch quickly back to the green hat. I want us to think about how we can deal with some of the challenges identified with the black hat. What can we do about them?

Team answers: Ask marketing director for her support, ask marketing to do a single training session for us so we don’t take much of their time, attend some training on using the required software for creating the report, buy a template we can use.

Brenda: Thanks, so we do have some options. We can evaluate them a bit more later. Let’s wear one final hat which is the yellow hat. The yellow hat allows us to look at the positive perspective of an issue. What are the positives of this report project for us?

Team answers: Opportunity to learn something new, working with marketing for the first time, involved in a project crucial to the leadership team, development opportunities.

Brenda: Thanks for that, we’ve covered all bases and have some ideas to move forward. Next, we will create an action plan that will help us to create the report by the end of next month which is the first time we need to do it.

After going through the example with them, get them to do one more quick activity.

Using the Six Hats for your own thinking

Tell them that, ‘we’ve discussed how useful the Six Hats are for group meetings, but they are also great for structuring our own individual thinking. Especially when you want to reflect on a really important issue. Let’s do a quick exercise where you apply the Six Hat’s to your own thinking.’

Tell them to:

  • Think about an important issue that they want to reflect on. It maybe an issue where they want to make a decision or a problem they need to solve.
  • They should write the issue down.
  • Next start with white hat thinking and ask them to think about any facts and figures related to the issues. For example, it may be that they want to learn a new skill and they don’t have enough money to pay for the training.
  • Next move on to red hat thinking and ask for their feelings about the issue. For example, sad and anxious that they can’t pay for the training right now.
  • Tell them to switch hats to do some green hat thinking for possible ideas that may be viable solutions. For example, in the meantime look for free online courses and videos to start learning the skill till you can pay for the training.
  • Switch to the yellow hat and ask for any positives related to the issue. For example, thinking about it has given you an interim plan to work on learning the skill instead of focusing on the fact that you can’t pay for it now.
  • Finally ask if there are any areas of caution or challenges using the black hat. For example, to start learning with free learning resources, you must be self-directed and therefore disciplined to do the learning and that can be challenging. But from a yellow heart perspective you are highly motivated.

After going through the exercise, ask for anyone of them that wants to share any of their individual thinking from using the hats. While this is voluntary, encourage them to share so they can learn from each other. Appreciate anyone that shares and then move on to review and close the session.

REVIEW AND CLOSE

To review the session, tell them that, ‘during this session our objectives were to be able to describe the Six Thinking Hats and demonstrate how to use them. To achieve the objectives, we reviewed the one idea summary, did a group activity writing questions for the hats, reviewed an example where the hats were used and also did some individual thinking with the hats. What now remains is for you to practice using them in real life. Find opportunities to use them, even if you don’t use all the hats at the same time.’ You can put on individual hats to prompt you to think about something from a specific perspective.’

After telling them that, thank them for their participation and close the session.

One Idea Group Session from Running Meetings by Nick Morgan

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INTRODUCTION

This resource will help you to facilitate a short group session to learn from the One Idea Summary on ‘How to prepare for a meeting’.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

  • Be able to describe the five steps involved in preparing for a meeting
  • Be able to demonstrate how to prepare for a meeting.

PREPARATION

Send a copy of the One Idea Summary on ‘How to prepare for a meeting’ to the participants at least one week before the session. Tell them to read it before coming and bring it with them to the session.

THE SESSION

Introduce the session (5-minutes)

Introduce the session by sharing the learning objectives with them.

Review the meeting preparation steps (15-minutes)

Put them into small groups of between 3 to 4 people and give each group flipchart paper and pens.

Tell each group to review what they read about preparing for meetings from the one idea summary and write a summary of their understanding on the flipchart paper. Give them 10-minutes.

After 10-minutes stop them and listen to their summaries.

When they finish feeding back their summaries, appreciate them and move on to do the meeting agenda activity with them.

Activity – Create a meeting agenda (20-minutes)

Tell them that, ‘now that you’ve reviewed the steps to create a meeting, let’s move onto something more practical. I’m going to get you to create a meeting agenda. To create it, you will work in the small groups that reviewed the five steps.’

To set up the activity, give each small group flipchart paper and pens. Share the following information with them. Read out the information and let them write it down.

  • Meeting to identify what features we want in our new HR system based on our HR vision and weaknesses of the current system
  • 10 – 12 noon on the 20th of February 2020.
  • Venue is Boardroom set up in horse-shoe shape.
  • Attendees will be Gina, Obi, Richard, Kojo, Angelina, Beatrice and me, Paisley.
  • Meeting roles needed are chair, which will be me, timekeeper, minute-taker, refreshment provider, someone to start us off with an icebreaker and someone to set up the venue.
  • Everyone to read the document on issues with current HR system that will be sent out with the agenda.
  • Objective of the meeting is to come up with a checklist of features and questions to engage HR system providers we will speak to.
  • Main agenda items will be, opening icebreaker, share purpose and objective of the meeting, review current challenges with HR system, brainstorm and compile what we want for new system, create an HR systems requirements checklist to engage HR systems providers and define what next steps are

Tell them again that, ‘your task is to create a meeting agenda template that incorporates all the information I just told you so that it can be included as part of the meeting invitation.

Give them 10-minutes for the activity.

Review activity – Create a meeting checklist (10-minutes)

After 10-minutes stop them and bring the whole group back together.

Ask each group to present their agenda template back to the whole group and listen to their presentation.

When they all finish presenting, thank them for the work they did and let them know that you will also share a sample agenda template with them.

Show them the agenda below. You can either give them printed copies or have it already reproduced on flipchart paper.

Meeting Agenda Template

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Give them some time to go through the sample agenda.

After they’ve gone through it, ask for any questions or comments they have about the it or the exercise they did earlier on.

Listen to what they say and respond appropriately.

Appreciate them again for their participation and move on to review and close the session.

REVIEW AND CLOSE

To review the session tell them that, ‘for this session we had two key objectives, which were to ensure you are able to describe the five meeting preparation steps and demonstrate how to prepare for a meeting.

To achieve those objectives, you first reviewed the one idea summary you were sent before the session. You also did an exercise on creating a meeting agenda. After that I shared an example of a meeting agenda with you. I hope that through this short session you have acquired a few tips that will help you prepare for meetings much more effectively.’

Book Review – Running Meetings by Nick Morgan

Running meetingsRunning Meetings by Nick Morgan is a book from the Harvard Business School Press Pocket Mentor series. This book aims to show us how to run meetings that are effective. As is the custom with this series, the book is split into two parts. The first part contains the main content, while the second part has some helpful tips and tools. Following is a brief review of the first part.

PART 1 – ALL ABOUT MEETINGS

Getting Started

This is the first chapter in the book which answers three key questions:

  1. When is it necessary to have a meeting?
  2. Who should come to a meeting?
  3. Apart from standard meetings, what are the other types of meetings?

There is also information on how to run a problem solving meeting and a reminder about why the purpose of a meeting is important.

How to prepare for a meeting?

This next chapter covers the steps necessary to prepare for a meeting. It outlines and describes steps to take which include: Continue reading

Book Review – Running Meetings by Nick Morgan

​Running Meetings by Nick Morgan is one of the books from the Harvard Business School Press Pocket Mentor series. This small book with just 97 pages will give you sufficient information to run efficient and effective meetings. The book is divided into two broad sections. The first section titled, All About Meetings, has the main reading content and I’ve briefly reviewed that section below. The second section is a consistent feature of the books in this series, titled Tips and Tools, it contains extra information about the book’s main topic, in this case, running a meeting.

What you can learn from reading section one?

Here is a very brief review of some of what you can learn from reading the information in section one. The section is divided into eight sub-sections.

Getting started

In this section the first question answered is, why have a meeting? The answer to that is followed up with points on who comes to meetings and recognising other types of meetings apart from the usual type of group meetings. There is also some information on how to run a problem-solving meeting.

How to prepare for a meeting

This next section outlines key actions to take when preparing for a meeting. The actions discussed are:

  • Identify the meeting’s purpose.
  • Decide who needs to attend.
  • Think about date, time, place and equipment for the meeting
  • Build the agenda
  • Assign meeting roles and responsibilities
  • Supply any extra pre-meeting information

How groups reach decisions

This third section is all about decision-making meetings.  The section starts out offering some advice on how to prepare for this type of meeting and then discusses three ways decisions may be made which are by:

  1. Majority voting
  2. Group consensus
  3. Leader making the decision

There are also some points on how to guide the decision-making process.

How to conduct a Meeting

After preparation comes conducting the actual meeting which this section discusses. If you want to run a meeting properly, then reading the information here will show you how to:

  • Open a meeting with authority
  • Run a meeting skillfully
  • Know how to get full participation
  • End the meeting properly

When bad things happen to good meetings

This section has an interesting title, but what is it about? It provides us with some steps to take when a meeting goes wrong:

  • Be realistic, no matter how much we prepare, things can still go wrong.
  • During the meeting be prepared. Be vigilant and look out for signs of things going wron so you can act on time.
  • Be ready to act if something actually does go wrong.

This section contains a lot of information that can help with managing meetings when things go wrong.

How to handle end matters

As the title implies, the information here deals with ending a meeting properly. It provides advice in three areas:

  1. End the meeting on time.
  2. End the meeting early if possible
  3. Provide closure.

How to follow up after a meeting

Following up after a meeting is a major factor that can help to determine if a meeting ends up being successful and some of the things you can do to follow up as discussed in this section are:

  • Communicate with people after the meeting.
  • Make sure you’ve created an action plan for people to work on after the meeting.
  • Evaluate how the meeting went and listen to those who may have complaints about the neeting.

Virtual meetings

This final and short section reminds us that meetings don’t have to be face-to-face all the time. Using videoconferencing, webconferencing, chats rooms and other types of collaborative technology can help us run meetings where everyone is not in the same place. These meetings have the same rules as face-to-face meetings and can be as effective too.

Tips and Tools

This is the second part of the book, albeit a very short one. It contains:

  • Tools for running a meeting which include three templates (Meeting planners checklist, meeting agenda and communication and action plan).
  • Self assessment questions to test your knowledge of the book.
  • References to further information on the subject.

While this is a short book, it’s not short on information. The information in this book is more than sufficient to support anyone to run effective meetings.