The Six Thinking Hats Approach for Building Software Products

Building Software Products
Building Software Products

There is growing reliance on digital technologies and software products like never before. Many companies are preparing for their digital transformation and looking at ways to use software for improving their business continuity and future. As a result, they are looking to build and use software products for business automation. Organisations are looking to build software products for their day to day work. They are exploring innovative ways to launch service models for their one time sales offerings, looking at online distribution forums and availing automation to manage their business.

Here we present an analytical approach for building software products that borrows insights from Six Thinking Hats by Edward Bono. The six thinking hats represents a strategic approach to decision making and can be used effectively for software product development:

1. White Hat Represents Data & Information

White Hat Represents Data & Information
White Hat Represents Data & Information

The white hat represents information, data and available facts. The white hat is analogous to teams sharing information with each other. Data availability, information and assimilation of inputs is the starting point for software product development.

Teams are empowered when they share available information for product development. It could be customer interviews, design mockups for product workflow or competitive analysis. When the team is empowered with shared information, it can move in the right direction.

The white hat thinking encourages team members to share their findings with each other. They can proactively bring data to the table and learn from each other. All the team members get to participate and contribute to the knowledge base.

2. Red Hat Represents Emotions, Passion & Intuition
The Red Hat thinking represents gut feeling. It is the emotions, passion and intuition about the things you are building. Every great product and project has this element of deep rooted feelings. Red hat thinking allows team members to express their feelings about their product. It could be something like adding new features or removing certain things.

Red Hat represents emotions, hunches and feelings that can be expressed without need for justification. It could be something like every tweet should be restricted to 280 characters. It’s a gut feeling and then we can do the research and analysis later. The Red Hat brings out insane ideas from team members, which can make a great difference to the overall product. Ofcourse, not all these ideas are feasible or implementable, but eases people into disclosing their best ideas without needing to validate them.

3. Black Hat Represents Caution & Problems

Black Hat Represents Caution Problems
Black Hat Represents Caution Problems

The Black Hat Represents the problems areas or the negative aspects of things you’re doing. For e.g. what are the negative aspects of building a feature? The Black Hat thinking is used to bring out the cons of an event, issue or product. Once the negative aspects are listed out, the team can work out to eliminate them.

The Black Hat thinking is critical to effective understanding of problems, uncovering important issues and vigilance. Black Hat thinking could help teams list out issues like, how do you prevent security breaches? What are the negative consequences of a product and what things can go wrong? Why will something not work? What are the situations that can cause failures? What are the potential pitfalls of a feature on performance of the product?
Black Hat thinking is good for critical evaluation and weighing the downsides to mitigate
Issues before they arise. It helps identify areas and potential weaknesses during product development.

4. Yellow Hat Represents Positive Aspects & Benefits

Yellow Hat is about values, benefits and optimism. It is used for figuring out the positive aspects of something. Yellow Hat represents sunlight and brings out the constructive aspects of something. For e.g. Intuitive UX Design can reduce the learning cycle for users. Cloud based approach provides better scalability options for the product.

The Yellow Hat thinking illustrates and reinforces the things that are done well. The team members are all asked to present their inputs on things that can add value & benefits of something. For e.g. Chatbot reduces the time and resources needed for manual interactions with customers. What are the benefits of adopting Devops approach for your product development?

Yellow Hat enforces the group to think about the solutions to the problems. It helps find opportunities that can unlock value from the product. The Yellow Hat represents positive aspects and a contrary approach to the Black Hat. It makes your product team focus on investing their time to derive great value.

5. Green Hat Represents Creativity & Ideas

Green Hat Represents Creativity & Ideas
Green Hat Represents Creativity & Ideas

The Green Hat is used for creativity, alternate ideas and ways of doing things. The Green Hat explores novel ways to solve problems for end users. It makes your product teams think about new ways of approaching things. It gets their creative ideas flowing and asks what is something that hasn’t been tried? Or how can I solve this problem to add more value for the users? Is this approach better than the previous solution? Will this approach save time and efforts for the users? How can I integrate with other tools or APIs to migrate & automate data collection for customers?

Green Hat thinking represents the solution centric approach to customer problems. It captures the best ideas and approaches from everyone to build the right products that meet customers’ needs. Very often the ideas and solutions that get implemented are prioritised based on customer feedback. A data driven approach to product and feature development eliminates guesswork. It helps build better products for customers.

6. Blue Hat Represents Goals & Decisions

The Blue Hat can be termed as the umpire or the decision maker. It manages the process for product execution. Once all the information is collected using the above five hats, the blue hat helps organisations prioritise and define the goals.

The Blue Hat thinking process uses timekeeping, moderating and creating ground rules for the team. For e.g. What problem does this feature solve for the customers & how quickly it can be implemented? What are the goals and why we need them? The Blue Hat decides that the product feature needs to be implemented in two weeks & ideas that need to be discarded.

The Blue Hat organises and manages information for product development. It evaluates data and essentially performs the SWOT analysis for the product development process.
Kreyon Systems builds innovative software products for clients globally. If you have any queries or need assistance for building software products, please get in touch with us.

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