This video goes into the six thinking hats and how they apply to meetings. For example, remember to ask the quiet ones what they think—they are often the best listeners and thinkers.
- The best meetings get the best out of all of the participants. And I want to look at this in two ways, with de Bono's thinking hats, and also what to do about quiet people. First, Edward de Bono and his hats. He suggested that a good meeting, particularly a problem solving one, would involve a variety of thinking styles, and that you could actually allocate the styles out to people in order to make sure that every style got used. He called this wearing the different hats.
Some people actually buy real colored hats and wear them, but I don't think you need to go that far, unless you want to. I think you would just allocate each imaginary hat to someone. The most essential hat I think is the black hat. This is the person who you ask to be the miserable one, the person who has to think about what might go wrong. And by allocating them the black hat, whether it's real or imaginary, you're giving them permission to be negative, or at least cautious about whatever the meeting is agreeing to.
This prevents a common problem where groups of people overlook flaws in the plan, because they all get a bit carried away. Some other interesting de Bono hats are the green hat, which the job of being creative, coming up with as many ideas as possible and as wacky as you like. This could be annoying but also useful. You might get them to take the hat back off once you've got enough ideas to work on. There's also the optimistic yellow hat who thinks about opportunities and how to deal with the good things that might happen, for example, a big increase in orders.
Someone usually does this anyway, without being asked I find. And there's the logical fact-based white hat, which I think can be a useful thinking style to make sure that you use, with things like, "Can we measure it? "How do we know our marketing money is being well spent? "What is the outcome we're trying to achieve?" If you don' have someone who naturally does this, then the white hat is a good one to allocate. Finally, there's the red hat that uses feelings.
They're supposed to ignore the facts and go with their gut instinct. Could the facts be wrong? What about the things that we can't measure? I think this one might be worth using some times. And there's blue hat which I really like, which stands back and looks at the process. Are we spending enough time planning? Is everyone involved? Have we jumped straight to answer without considering other options? That kind of thing. So there's are the thinking hats, which might be worth using, particularly the black one, and maybe the white and the blue ones.
It depends what weaknesses you feel your meetings have at the moment. If they aren't systematic, then you might want to give out the white or blue hat. Or if they aren't very creative, then maybe the green hat, but the second part of getting the best out of everyone, is to involve the quiet people. Often the quiet people are the best ones, they're listening and they're thinking, but unfortunately they don't always speak up when they have a great idea. I used to have a friend called Clive who would say nothing in meetings. He just sit there.
Then afterwards he'd say to me, "Of course what they should've done was whatever." And that drove me mad, so I started to actively include him in the meetings by saying, "And Clive, what do you think?" And he would go, "Well, I think..." And then reluctantly and quietly tell us what was always a brilliant answer. What a good team we were with his big brains and my big mouth. And I wasn't even the leader of the meeting, just his friend. Really, the leader should've been doing that.
So, you can pick on the quiet ones and ask them what they think. Or just go around the table asking each person, though that can take a bit of time if the group is large. With a larger group, you can pair them up, and get each pair to report back on their thoughts after five minutes. So the quiet ones can talk one-to-one with the other person, and then the other person can feedback the ideas. But whatever you do, make sure that you don't have someone who isn't contributing. It's a waste of their time to be at the meeting, and a waste of possible information and ideas for the group.
So, who are the ones who say nothing at your meeting? And what are you going to do to involve them? And what do you think about the hats idea? Does your meeting have a particular thinking weakness? And therefore, could you imagine using at least some of them at your meeting?
- Setting up meetings
- Determining who needs to attend a meeting
- Choosing your meeting duration
- Providing reminders for successful meetings
- Facilitating a successful meeting
- Getting the best out of people
- Dealing with latecomers and common meeting problems
- Deciding if you should go to a meeting
- Making your voice heard
- Managing remote or virtual meetings