Do You Leverage All the Thinking Hats?
- White Hat Thinking: This thinking step is about facts and information. What is known already and what information is needed to really make the decisions at hand? Many consider this step to be neutral — i.e., no negative or positive opinions allowed.
- Red Hat Thinking: This thinking step is about feelings. All the hunches, unsubstantiated opinions and non-factual thoughts are represented here. This thinking step is as important as the white-hat thinking step. With this step you are allowed to actually have discussions without any justification needed and no prejudice — however, as you can imagine, this step should not last long but is critical to garner all the thoughts from the team.
- Green Hat Thinking: This thinking step is focused on creativity. This is very different than red-hat thinking. It allows you to explore the possibilities, new ideas and new solutions to the decision.
- Black Hat Thinking: This thinking step is about the negative elements relative to the decision. What are the risks? Why might something not work? What are the perceived problems? What are the downsides to making a specific decision? You have permission to be negative in this step, but this step cannot trump the other steps.
- Yellow Hat Thinking: This thinking step is focused on the positive elements of the decision. It balances the black-hat step. Within this process, you work through the benefits that can come from the solution/decision. What is the value involved in the decision? This step must also include some level of justification for benefits and value that would come with this decision.
- Blue Hat Thinking: This thinking step is actually about process. Is everything being considered — i.e., are all six thinking steps being taken? This step typically results in documentation and summaries of what happens in the other five steps.
How does it work for fundraising?
Now, to make this specific to the nonprofit industry, let's actually put this to use with one of the most common decision moments in nonprofit fundraising. It has happened to all of us. What happens when you are presented with a new idea or new strategy?
As someone who is constantly bringing new ideas to nonprofits, sometimes I feel like this is my "everyday life," but I also have very clear memories when I was at the American Cancer Society and Arthritis Foundation and faced with these very situations.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.