How to effectively resolve complex problems?

In a workplace setting, we often come across complex problems which require collective effort to arrive at a solution.


In my personal experience, the usual response mechanism involves hurriedly calling the various stakeholders for a meeting to discuss and find the solution. This way of resolving a problem suffers from 5 major drawbacks:


1. It is an unstructured way of conducting meetings.

2. The problem is not analyzed in a holistic way.

3. The meetings usually overshoot the timelines

4. No clarity of the role to be played by each stakeholder.

5. There is no surety of the effectiveness of the solution(if at all arrived)


So, in this write-up, we are going to learn one of the most effective techniques for solving a problem. It’s a scientific & much more structured approach to arriving at a solution.


The technique is popularly known as, Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono.


The six thinking hats technique of Edward de Bono is a model that can be used for exploring different perspectives towards a complex situation or challenge. Seeing things in various ways is often a good idea in strategy formation and complex decision-making processes.


This method helps individuals to adopt a variety of perspectives on a subject that may be very different from the one that they might most usually/naturally assume.


De Bono’s hats are indicative of both the emotional states as well as frames of mind(i.e perspectives from which issue is viewed). He noted, “Emotions are an essential part of our thinking ability & is not just something extra that mucks up on thinking”. One thinking style or hat is no inherently better than the other. A full balanced team recognizes the need for all hats to consider all aspects of whatever issues they are facing.


In most group contexts, individuals feel constrained to consistently adopt a specific perspective (optimistic, pessimistic, objective). This limits the ways and extent to which each individual & thus the group as a whole can explore the issue.


With this technique, one is no longer limited to a single perspective in one’s thinking. The six hat method is useful even for individuals thinking by themselves.


The application of the method requires each of the members to choose and wear an imaginary hat of a specific color.


Colors and Perspectives represented by Six Hats


Each of the six hats is named for a color that is descriptive of the perspective one adopts when wearing the particular hat. The different colors and their perspectives are summarized as under.


  • White(Observer) :White paper,Neutral,Focus on information available, Objective facts, what is needed, how it can be obtained
  • Red(Self, other) :  Fire, warmth, emotions, feelings,intuition,hunches,present views w/o explanation or justification
  • Black(Self, other) :  Stern judge wearing the black robe, judgemental, critical, why something is wrong, logical negative view
  • Yellow(Self, other) :  Sunshine, optimism, logical positive view, looks for benefits, what is good
  • Green(Self, other) :  Vegetation,creative thinking possibilities & hypothesis, new ideas
  • Blue(Observer) :Sky,cool,overview,control of process, steps, other hats, chairperson,organizer,thinking about thinking

Using the Six hats Method


Hats may be used in structured sequence depending on the nature of the issue. Here is the process flow for a typical 6 hats workshop:


Step 1: The Person wearing WHITE HAT presents the facts of the case (WHITE HAT)


Step 2: The GREEN HAT person generates ideas on how the case would be handled (GREEN HAT)


Step 3: YELLOW HAT wearer evaluates the merits of the idea & list the benefits (YELLOW HAT)


Step 4:BLACK HAT person plays the devil’s advocate and lists the drawbacks of the idea(BLACK HAT)


Step 5: RED HAT gets everybody’s gut feelings about the ideas/alternatives shared(RED HAT)


Step 6: BLUE HAT summarizes & adjourns the meeting. (BLUE HAT)


Benefits of the Method


  1. It allows to say things without risk
  2. Creates awareness that there are multiple perspectives on the issue in hand
  3. Convenient mechanism for ‘switching gears’.
  4. Presents 360 degree view of the problem
  5. Allows focus thinking
  6. Leads to more creative thinking
  7. Improves communication among the stake holders
  8. Improves decision making


If this technique connects with you, I would recommend you to test it for the real-life problem and share the feedback.




Lalit Kumar Hundalani||Peak Performance & Life Transformation Coach||2X Best Selling Author


PS: If you would like to know how you can 10X your performance, then we can connect on the below link.



5 thoughts on “How to effectively resolve complex problems?”

  1. Yeah, it is an innovative approach to solve complex problems and handle such projects. In the corporate world, such problems are being faced almost daily and it takes lots of time and energy to resolve the issues.
    We will certainly use the same in our organisation.
    I am thankful to the author for enlightening us.

  2. Cool. I spent a long time looking for relevant content and found that your article gave me new ideas, which is very helpful for my research. I think my thesis can be completed more smoothly. Thank you.

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