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De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats: a brainstorming activity with Niesha Ford, Natalie Hudanick and Dr. Shaymaa Abdalal
Friday, January 29, 2021

Imagine thinking with only emotion, and no logic. Or only logic and no emotion.

Description: See things from someone else’s perspective: put on a different thinking hat and join us as Taylor Center Design Thinking Graduate Assistants Niesha Ford, Natalie Hudanick and Dr. Shaymaa Abdalal walk you through De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, a brainstorming technique looking at multiple perspectives of a problem. This activity will examine how you approach and improve on challenges in your everyday life.

Presentation: Download PDF of Slides

About the Hosts

  • Shaymaa Abdalal, MBBS, MHTM is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, working in population-based research focus on border malaria in an elimination setting. Her dissertation research looks at the relationship of malaria and migrant, and border land residents in The Saudi Yemeni Border.
  • Natalie Hudanick is a second-year MPH candidate in Maternal and Child Health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. With a background in anthropology and women’s health, her research interests lie in reproductive health and health communication.
  • Niesha Ford is a second-year graduate student at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Niesha works with multiple organizations committed to causes such as: providing services for people experiencing homelessness, encouraging positive racial perspectives, and working with historically marginalized groups to combat the current COVID-19 pandemic.

About Design Thinking Breakfast

The Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking hosts a monthly design thinking breakfast, where we showcase the work of design thinkers around the world. These breakfasts are a space to build community among those using design, design thinking, and related methods for social impact with some local flavor, particularly from the greater New Orleans area and the Gulf South. In a one-hour morning session of creativity and networking, participants have the opportunity to explore design methods and applications.



Natalie Hudanick: ……vanishes and ultimately being optimistic about ideas and when and being optimistic when you’re creating them.

This time the team picks up a firm positive position, focusing on the positive, the values and the benefits and so using the Caroline’s example. We could say all members of the group really like seeing new places. So driving could be a good thing, because we get to see so many cities and they could see so many mountains, you can see mountains crossing the Appalachian mountains.

So that would be so something that’s super optimistic about driving or flying you can say “Oh, it will be so much faster, we can get there and spend more time in Maine versus driving.”

And, and then moving on to the next hat, the red hat, it’s about emotions and with the red hat, the team expresses its feelings, whatever they are.

Without the need to justify them, the red hat acknowledges all the emotions that are present and whether they are negative or positive feelings.

And so, when we use Caroline’s travel dilemma, we could say “I’m afraid of road trip could have too many unknowns like we could break down someone could fall asleep at the wheel and that just gives me so much anxiety about driving there and it makes me feel kind of uncomfortable wanting to drive there.”

And then, lastly, the blue hat. The blue is a special as it guides all the others who are pragmatic and action oriented.

And it symbolizes taking a step back and organizing the discussions when you are using the blue hat, you can help to organize the ideas, the other has created.

A clarifying objectives of the problem and, eventually, helping to create a process or a plan for potential implementation of an idea.

When we use Caroline’s travel problem as an example, we could say let’s look at how a road trip would work for this. Maybe, let’s go back to the yellow hat idea and see what the benefits are of driving this.

Let’s organize how the other hats could work together to get a plan. So these are the things you’re thinking about- it’s about organizing planning and leading discussion.

And so we need all these hats together to create effective solutions.

And now that I’ve gone over all the hats, we can use them to do an activity, so this activity will have a brainstorming solutions to a prompt that we created for you all using the six thinking hats

First we’re going to transition into Mural, the link will be pasted for everyone in the chat.

Shaymaa Abdalal: Okay, thank you Natalie, so I just dropped the link in the chat and now let’s all go to Mural and get a little bit more familiar with it.

You before we go to the activity in Mural, if you don’t know, it is a whiteboard, a digital whiteboard for collaboration and world famous for the using sticky note.

So let’s go over the basics. If you can go to the lower left side, you can see the tool bars and you can grab a sticky note from there and write your name.

I will begin to ask everyone to follow me so you can see the sticky note.

And also, if you go to the lower left there is a chat button, where we can drop some information, just to keep you updated.

Next, and lastly, is, if you want to adjust in the lower right the view zoom in zoom out.

I hope, everything is okay. Are we okay?

So now we are going to move to Taylor. Taylor is a grad student who was working at school for 20 hours a week.

And she’s graduating May 2021, very interesting time for that and she’s on a job hunt which make her super stressed.

She just got a new puppy, his name is Coco and she has a nail biting habit and recurrent migraine

However, Taylor is very self-aware and she wants to have some joy in her life and relieve the stress. She used to have hobbies like journaling gaming and painting.

And she would love to have that bac. So if you can, with you’re thinking hat, we’re going to send you into breakout rooms.

Please use only two hats, that is designated on the board and try to find, how can you bring back Taylor’s happiness.

Niesha, are we ready for breakout rooms?

Niesha Ford: Yeah, do you have any questions on the room that you are in will correspond with the room in Mural so just look at what room you’re in and then that’s the board that you’re going to go to.

Any questions before we send you to the breakout rooms?

Laura Murphy: Yep, morning everybody I’m not I’m in there in Mural, I see people floating around but I’m not able to get to the specific spaces, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

Niesha Ford: You’re saying that you can’t……

Laura Murphy: Figured out.

Okay, I was having trouble others yeah.

Shaymaa Abdalal: Goodness I’m like deleted my room number four that’s fine the fame it’s the thing.

Niesha Ford: Is everybody else okay?

Okay, if you need help just call us in. I’m going to open up the breakout rooms.

Niesha Ford: It looks like most people are back. I hope I gave you enough time. Um, alright, so I love to hear some sharing out, how did that go?

Let’s start with somebody from room 2. How did that go?


Chelsea Solano: I think we had great fun.

We ran out of time, at the end.

But any we all were able to share ideas and then also all of us figured out how to use Mural of those who didn’t know.

So yeah it was really fun to kind of get creative. We felt, I felt like, both of our hats -we were green hat and red hat.

We just ended up being pretty creative around both of those.

Niesha Ford: Do you or anybody else in your group want to share any of the creative ideas you came up with.

Chelsea Solano: We had so many. For the red hat, which is a focus kind of on intuition and feelings we came up with a lot of fun idea like have a passion pal, which is a new term someone came up with. Just really say everything express all your feelings so we came up with primal screaming.

Rom com movie night, then cooking night with emotional themes, a lot of just fun ways for Taylor to focus on her feelings in this period.

Niesha Ford: Um let’s see let’s see I’m thinking I’m just going to pick on someone. Janice, what group are you in?

Janice Ballard: I was in group five.

Niesha Ford: All right, do you want to talk about some of the stuff you guys talked about in your experience?

Janice Ballard: We were just really figuring out Mural. So we really didn’t talk much needed some action, but maybe someone else can share, because I was just kind of figuring it all out.

We did say allowing her to vent her feelings having like event night or time of anything but I, and I think one of us said crying with her and showing that empathy but beyond that I let someone else from our group takeover yeah.

Niesha Ford: Um let’s see does any other group want to share out about a different hat?

Anybody have, like I think I saw on the board someone had like the white hat right the white and the yellow hat which group was that?

Natalie Hudanick: That was my group. Does anybody from my group who are going to go you don’t have to, but if, if I can go if nobody else wants to go.

Samantha Fleurinor: I can go.

Natalie Hudanick (she/her) : Oh awesome Thank you Samantha.

Samantha Fleurinor : We have the yellow and white hat. The white hat didn’t really come up with any ideas kind of just regurgitated what was given to us, which I thought was so straight.

The yellow one, we were focusing on the positives so we came up with ideas, based on like the positive things we could glean from. The situation so she has a puppy.

She does not have to worry about nail grooming, she’s graduating, she’s looking for a job before she’s graduating. That was kind of it. It was an interesting mixture of the two strategies.

Niesha Ford: Yeah awesome! Does anyone else want to share before we kind of go on to the next, our next activity?

Okay alright, so that is really interesting kind of like Samantha said, this activity was supposed to be a little bit weird, a little bit challenging for you.

But for the next activity which, I hope, Shaymaa can unhide our next activity on the Mural board. You’re going to go back into your groups.

And you’re going to do, pretty much the same prompt for Taylor, but this time, each person in the group is going to adopt a different hat.

I understand that everybody in the group may have, when you took the quiz you all may all be green hats, but that’s okay.

Everyone’s going to adopt a different hat, for example, if me and Natalie are in the same group, I’m going to be a white hat and Natalie is going to be a red hat.

And we’re going to try to do the same thing, except we’re all going to be a different hat.

We’re all going to come up with an idea, as a group, except we’re all going to be a different hat. Does that make sense to everybody?

Okay, and again if you have any questions just let me know, but now I’m going to stick you back into your groups.

Alright, good luck, I can’t wait to hear your guys ideas.

Niesha Ford: Welcome back, welcome back, slowly coming back. I hope I gave you all enough time.

I think it is everybody.

Rebecca Otten (she/her) : Yeah, we just got sucked back in.


Niesha Ford:Okay, all right.

Great well, welcome back, welcome back

Alright so just like last time, I love to hear about how that went.

And how that was different. Let’s do some comparisons. Does anyone want to talk about how that was different than the last time.

Ja’Wanda Grant:The first thing that comes to mind, for me, is it was more realistic of like daily life.

Trying to work with different people with, you know, different ways of thinking about a problem and how you have to figure out something together.

Niesha Ford: Thanks for sharing.

Laura, I saw that you unmuted yourself. Did you want to say what’s your ideas?

Laura Murphy: Oh hey yeah, we just got some issues with Mural but aside from that, I think that actually captures more to six hats as I understood it.

So it was really cool to force one stuff , definitely had to force myself to think really critically about all the terrible things that could go wrong in it, which is good, yeah.

Niesha Ford: Great. So did you adopt the black hat in your group?

Laura Murphy: I was like yeah.

Niesha Ford: Okay, great.

Did any or does anyone else, want to share? Especially people who had to adopt a different hat than what they got on the quiz.

Ja’Wanda Grant: I will say I was the black hat and I kept slipping in and out towards the end because I’m really not. So it was kind of hard to keep being pessimistic.

Lesley-Ann Noel: What I like, I was in that group as well and I guess unsurprisingly, I adopted a Green hat, but I liked being able to respond to the black hat, with a new idea.

You know, and so every pessimistic thing, I was like okay well we’ll create a list and say, well, that was nice in our group

Niesha Ford: Does any group want to share the idea that they came up with quickly or one of the ideas that came up with for Taylor?

Shaymaa Abdalal: Can we spotlight and randomly and one of the boards and then we ask them to share?

Natalie Hudanick (she/her) : Yeah, I can share my screen again and we can see all the boards and everything.

Shaymaa Abdalal: It was just a suggestion.

Niesha Ford: Yeah, Natalie what did your group come up with.

Natalie Hudanick (she/her) : We just kind of went through each person like was talking about their ideas through each of these their own specific hat.

With the red hat that Samantha took, we were kind of thinking, she was kind of thinking, it seems to the I don’t want to speak for her, but she seemed to think that she was thinking of ideas to relieve like emotional stress.

Maybe, so we thought of an eye mask which the blue hat really liked.

When we were like we should go back to the mask idea.

Or drinking keys de stress I don’t know if Samantha wants to speak more on the red hat that she was looking at.

Samantha Fleurinor: Sure, I mean. I was just really focused on the feeling. I don’t know if I did it right in terms of was it her feelings or just like relieving the feelings or just brainstorming on how to make her feel different.

I don’t know, but I was just like kind of thinking like what would make me feel better and kind of I’m brainstorming off of that

Natalie Hudanick: Yeah so that was like something and then I know Richard she was saying that she struggled to be the black hat

She was not a black hat person, for sure want to say anymore.

Patrizia Green: Yeah it was really uncomfortable.  There was a little anecdote at the start, we saw that there was a puppy. And now we didn’t see in the description that there was a puppy so I was thinking that it died.

And I think that’s not a good idea that she continues, looking at job these times. It’s better to continue studying her studies.

It was quite uncomfortable to get out of the perspective that I usually used to brainstorm but really interesting.


Niesha Ford: Yeah well thank you so much for sharing. I do really want to be cognizant of time.

So basically, I’m glad that you guys got to see the difference between you know kind of using one hat and then kind of walking through Taylor’s situation using all of different hats or a few of the hats if you’re in a group that didn’t have all six of the heads.

This is definitely a slight twist on the concept and as you saw in the chat, they have posted a link to Do Bono’s books.

You can really see how the six thinking hats is done maybe in a more traditional style and I’ll definitely open it up for Lesley to talk about how she does it in her classes.

I really like the six thinking hats. It’s really nice to you know and understand that your hat is not glued to your head.

You can always switch to a different hat and a different way of thinking, especially when you are coming up with a solution and working in a team as Jacinda said

So on that note, I just want to thank you all for coming and again I’m going to actually open it up for Lesley, so she can talk about how she’s uses six thinking hats in her classroom.

Lesley-Ann Noel: Okay, thanks Niesha.

So we actually didn’t do it this semester, but I normally ask people at the start off the semester doing the quiz so we could figure out what hats people wear and then we try something similar, where we ask people to use one hat and it’s normally very difficult to solve something using one hat.

But surprisingly, my group this morning because my group this morning was just amazing, we were able to actually come up with ideas with one hat.

But normally, when there’s an overwhelming set of people with one hat alone, normally you can’t move your ideas forward because maybe people are too pessimistic or optimistic.

People don’t actually want to get things done, the creative people are always coming up with new ideas you know, like I wear green hat normally, and I know that I’m in that place where I’m always thinking okay what’s next what’s next what’s next and you know

What we really need to see in this kind of activity is how we actually need all of these hats to get things done

We do need the pessimistic person and we need the analytical person emotional person, all of that and yeah.

I just like this activity and this theory, but as the see how to work with people from diverse backgrounds.

And I don’t know if anyone else wants to maybe we could stop sharing screen, so we can see people’s faces.

What I wanted to ask people will, in the first one, you know, like I know it’s two minutes before time, did anyone have a really, really hard time getting anything out there in the first time around?

Or maybe even the second time around, what were some of the real barriers?

Or was everyone just amazing and you got stuff out?


Julie Sedlemeyer: This is Julie, so I was in group 2 which was a great group, but I found that the second time around, when I had a hat that I wasn’t familiar with and don’t really come from that place, that it was hard to put that hat on for me.

So I found that I was quieter and I didn’t contribute as much because I wasn’t as comfortable in that hat.

Rebecca Otten: I would also say in our group, the first time we had gotten into a groove of emphasizing using that hat, but we hadn’t actually moved to like generating ideas with the hat.

Lesley-Ann Noel: Now Niesha, you’re going to be upset with me because I’m sorry, someone else was going to speak, who was that?

Megan Clare: I was just going to say, it was hard to isolate under one hat at a time and to really try to focus on just that approach at once

So coming up with stuff and was like no that belong somewhere else.

Lesley-Ann Noel: Alright, so now, I have to be respectful of people’s time.

I see people’s Linkedin handles I guess quickly I should find mine.

But we our next date is, Niesha, you know the date for the next one?

Niesha Ford: Yep, our next DT breakfast is going to be on February 26th, but we will have a DT gumbo before that, at the beginning of February.

Lesley-Ann Noel: Alright, so we look forward to connecting with people join our mailing list and follow us so that you could figure out what other stuff we’re doing, and we look forward to seeing you next month.

Niesha Ford: Thanks, good bye

Chelsea Solano: Thank you, thank you.

Lesley-Ann Noel: Nice

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