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Listening Hats Best Practices

Listening Hats (also known as Six Thinking Hats) is a strategic tool that can be used while generating ideas for a new product or service. This tool is especially useful because it forces the individuals on the innovation team to consider options from a completely different perspective from which they normally would. Additionally, in a group setting, the Listening Hats tool allows every member of the team to view each option from many different perspectives at the same time.

More about Listening Hats

Description of Listening Hats

Using Listening Hats will ultimately help the team come up with a carefully thought out, well-rounded idea that avoids potential pitfalls later such as a lack of support from organizational members, an absence of a back-up plan or an idea devoid of creativity. Listening Hats is best used during meetings, though it can be a solitary activity.


There are six different Listening Hats, each of which is labeled by a name that includes a different color:

  1. White Listening Hat: This hat concentrates team effort on the information currently available about prior products and services. With this information, consider what can be improved upon, changed or learned. Establish ways to fill the gaps in existing products or services.
  2. Red Listening Hat: This hat allows your team to use their gut-sense or intuition regarding the developing idea. Additionally, consider the emotional reactions of customers to your product or service, specifically thinking about how they would react to the product without knowing the reasoning and planning behind it.
  3. Black Listening Hat: This hat forces your team to think about the negative ramifications of the product or service. Spend time thinking about the product with this perspective because it will allow the team to identify the substandard features of the product and eliminate, change or create backup plans for them before they become problematic on the market. By going through this process, the product or service you develop will be stronger and more easily defended as your team will have thought through and altered the aspects of the product that could be questioned.
  4. Yellow Listening Hat: This hat focuses on the advantageous aspects of the product or service being developed. In particular, think through the value added by the product as well as what benefits could be derived from it. This perspective will be especially helpful in keeping team morale high when the idea development process becomes grim.
  5. Green Listening Hat: This hat allows your team to creatively think about the developing product or service. Specifically, your team can think about solutions to potential problems in a freeform manner; team members should not pass judgment on each other’s ideas.
  6. Blue Listening Hat: This is the hat worn by the head of the innovation team. In particular, the individual who wears this hat is held responsible for directing the line of thinking to whatever color is needed at the time (i.e., black, green, etc.).

To complement the use of the Listening Hats model, consider asking the opinion of different professionals, customers or other organizational stakeholders.

Praxie's Online Listening Hats Tools & Templates

Because Listening Hats act as a support mechanism for discussions concerning innovative idea development, they require ways to capture ideas and record comments from discussions. Praxie’s online Listening Hats collaboration tools allow any team or organization to instantly begin working with our web templates and input forms. Get started with our Listening Hats template. 

How to use it:

  1. Review the different Thinking Hats definitions. 
  2. Then, define your focus (a problem, challenge, or idea) and enter your thoughts for each hat. 
  3. Based on your Thinking Hats brainstorm, create your action plan to address your problem or challenge. 

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