DeBono’s 6 Hats: Innovating on the Common Water Bottle

Jonathan Weaver and Darrell Kleinke
University of Detroit Mercy Mechanical Engineering Department
NA Name
DeBono’s 6 Hats: Innovating on the Common Water Bottle
DeBono’s fundamental premise is that there are six fundamental types of thinking, and thinking becomes too confusing if we try to think in all modes simultaneously. Thinking becomes more effective if we use one type of thinking at a time. This is accomplished by figuratively putting on “thinking caps,” one by one. If groups of people can think in a common mode, they can devise better solutions to problems at a more rapid pace! Consider the time wasted when team members aree not “on the same page”!
The class is introduced to the concept of Edward Debono’s six thinking hats in class during one 50-75 minute lecture period. The instructor wears the “blue hat,” quickly introduces each of the other hats and, in teams of four to five students, the class practices each hat while trying to come up with an innovation related to the common water bottle. 
Ideation/concept generation and team dynamics
Any class with design content or involving teamwork
Students experience how following a structured process to ensure parallel thinking can greatly enhance team productivity. Free canned slides for this and other ideation techniques as well as technical entrepreneurship case studies available at
Requires a minimum of about an hour of class time. Instructor would do well to read Six Thinking Hats by Edward DeBono ahead of time--but should be able to get by based on examining the slides ahead of time.   
Could apply the technique to a different problem, such as the problem being addressed in the course.