Concepts and Alternatives (Post #6)

9. Concepts

De Bono states, “Concepts are the parents of practical ideas” (p. 107). For example, transportation is a concept and car is the practical idea. “When you believe you have extracted the concept from what is being said, you can check on this by asking a question: ‘It seems to me that the concept here is…Is that correct?’” (p. 111). Concepts are helpful when clarifying less familiar information or facts. Some concepts may be too specific, narrowing our thinking. Do Bono identifies different concepts, such as business concepts, customer value concepts, and delivery concept. “Concepts capture the main ‘essence’ but may not cover all aspects” (p. 118). Learning a need skill may be riddled with new concepts.

Task: List some examples of concepts in your most recent sessions with your mentor.

  1. Alternatives

Let’s have a closer look at “alternatives.” They provide additional insight, improvements, simplifications, and flexibility. Do Bono writes, “The main point is that having a way of doing something does not mean it is the best way of doing it” (p. 125). There are three stages:

  1. The willingness to look for alternatives
  2. The creative effort to generate alternatives
  3. The assessment of alternatives (de Bono, p. 126)

Alternatives can be explored when doing something or perceiving something. How do we generate alternatives?

For action alternatives:

  1. Think of known alternatives
  2. Then ask what other alternatives may be available

For perception alternatives:

  1. See the situation from another perspective.
  2. Take the opposite of the perception.

De Bono writes, “Alternatives of action and of ideas are about the future. . . .Alternatives of explanation and perception; however, are about the present and the past” (p. 135).

Task: You are a little more than half way your project, what alternatives has your mentor offered you? What alternatives may another mentor have offered you? Discuss.


Parallel Thinking – The Six hats (Post #5)

Parallel Thinking- the six hats

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle designed the art of argument. De Bono states, “Each side makes a ‘case’ and then seeks to defend that case and prove the other ‘case’ to be wrong” (p. 89). The motivation to be right is high but the actual content not so much. De Bono states, “We use argument not because we think it is such a wonderful method-but because we do not know any other method” (p. 89).

De Bono devised a different way of thinking, called the “Six Hats.” He uses different colours to describe the different ways of thinking about a situation. It is important that every member uses the same hat in the same conversation- parallel thinking. Therefore, you need to be able to identify the different hats.

White hat: White means information. Hard facts are facts that we can check. Soft information covers information such as rumours or personal facts. During a white hat conversations, all information is laid out on the table.

What do we know?

What do we need to know?

What is missing?

What questions should we ask?

How might we get the information we need?

Red hat: Red information includes emotions, feelings and intuition. You do not have to give any reasons to back up why you feel this way. Intuition is helpful when there is no other way to check the information.

I do not like this idea at all.

My feeling is that this simply will not work.

My intuition is that raising the price will destroy the market.

My gut feeling is that this is highly dangerous.

I feel it is a waste of time.

My intuition is that she is a bright person for the job.

Black hat: This hat includes critical thinking and judging information. It helps us to act properly and safely.

Does this fit our values?

Does this fit our resources?

Does this fit our strategy and objectives?

Does this fit our abilities?

The black hat thinking can:

Indicate a fault in logic

Point out incorrect information

Point out faults and weaknesses

Point out why something does not fit

Point out the “downside”

Point out potential problems.

Yellow hat: This hat looks for values, benefits and why something should work. The yellow hat leads to insights and everyone makes an effort to find value.

Green hat: This hat is productive because it “asks for ideas, alternatives, possibilities and designs” (de Bono, p. 99). This hat helps with creativity.

Blue hat: This hat helps organize other hats. First, it defines the focus and purpose of a conversation. Second, it sets up a sequence of hats for the conversation.

For the benefits of using hats read page 104 and for an excellent summary read pages 105-106.


Record a short section of conversation between you and your mentor. Transcribe the conversation. Identify the different hats in the conversation.