One way to get to positive: a mode of thought called parallel thinking. In personal decisions as well as corporate settings, Dr. Edward de Bono suggests parallel thinking—which is also the name of his innovative book. One reason: it's collaborative. De Bono, born in Malta, has degrees in psychology, physiology, and medicine, and extensive wisdom about logic and decision-making.
Either Loki, the Norse god of mischief, or the Library Angel must have been hanging around the computer room when I took his book off the shelf and put it on my coffee table this week. Why? Not only because it is useful personally, but because of the New York Times article, “Turning to the Web for a Medical Diagnosis,” online this morning. Author Sabrina Tavernise has now made it to my short list of people to invite to lunch someday.
She notes in her article that over a third of American adults in a Pew Research Center study reported that they had at one time or another used the web to actually diagnose a medical condition, even for someone besides themselves.
As it happens, I am a card-carrying member of the “Knowledge is for everybody” club. De Bono takes that stand, too, but adds to it five other hats to wear. In fact, he calls his process “Six Hats.”
What it involves is putting ideas and views parallel to each other instead of having them compete while you think about them. He points out that it is not a typically Western mode of thinking, but has been used in South Africa by a newspaper editorial board, Mormon Church senior staff, and executives in Argentina, Shanghai, and Japan.
The person or persons doing the thinking should wear one metaphorical hat at a time, de Bono says, and think about the problem at hand solely in that mode for the time being. He gives each hat a color so that they are easier to understand.
The white hat is information, both what there is and what is needed. The second hat is emotions, intuition, and feelings, and it is a red hat. It honors the importance of these and provides a space and time to set them all out. Third is the black hat, for risk assessment and judgment.
Fourth is the yellow hat, for benefits and values, ways and mean. Next is the green hat, which seeks and discovers, de Bono says, creativity and possibility. And sixth is the blue hat, under which the group facilitator or the group itself manages the entire process.
De Bono points out that once everyone has set down their ideas in parallel under each hat, the decision is often clear right then. He also outlines designs for further exploration in case they are not.
For instance,Tavernise notes that 41 percent of those who used the internet for medical diagnosis said that a doctor confirmed their diagnosis and 18 percent said that their doctor did not agree with it. Only a third of those said they didn’t seek confirmation of it. In other words, 59 percent of those surveyed did seek medical help with what they were researching.
In the case of the Pew study results, those surveyed were proving de Bono’s plan is practical: in effect, setting down their information, their emotions, the risk assessment, the benefits, and the possibilities, all the while managing their thinking during the process.
Linda Chalmer Zemel is the Buffalo Alternative Medicine Examiner for Examiner.com. She received the Exceptional Performance Award from the National Guild of Hypnotists as a member of their faculty, and she teaches media writing at SUNY Buffalo State College. Contact Linda at email@example.com