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As a specialist in creativity, Edward de Bono - whose instruction has been sought by corporations such as IBM, DuPont, and Ford, and by the governments of the US, Brazil, and Singapore - here identifies a simple "six shoes" approach to taking control of situations. The author lays out the events and actions associated with each of the six types of "shoes", and explains that while someone may naturally be better at responding in one particular mode - say taking emergency action ("orange gumboots") rather than accumulating information ("grey sneakers") - the truly successful person will master all six action modes and learn to tailor his or her actions to the situations at hand.
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In 1983, the book Six Thinking Hats introduced a framework for creative thinking. The method involves visualizing six imaginary hats each representing a distinctive way of thinking or mental role playing. The hats are:
White hat──a neutral color representing information. A person wearing a white hat is taking an objective look at the information available before acting.
Red hat──a warm, passionate color representing feelings. When wearing the red hat, feelings, emotions or intuition are in control.
Black hat──a logical, negative color associated with law and justice. Wearing a black hat means taking a logical, stern and no nonsense approach.
Yellow hat──associated with sunshine and optimism. Wearing a yellow hat means you look positively at the benefits in a good frame of mind.
Green hat──as in new growth. Wearing the green hat suggests creativity and new, untried ideas. New ideas spring up in this thinking mode.
Blue hat──as in sky blue. A cool, detached look at the thought process is in action when the blue hat is being worn. That is, control over the thinking process.
There are numerous benefits to the six hat framework for creative thinking. For example, by separating these modes, people can avoid muddled thinking involving a mix of differing modes. It also allows the ego to be separated from performance. Overall, the six hats encourage constructive thinking and collaborative thinking by groups of people.
The hats are most effective when they are used one at a time to examine a subject from a number of different perspectives. The benefit of the framework comes when people swap the hats. The six pairs of action shoes follow on from the six hats for creative thinking.
Six action shoes are a practical, useful framework for making decisions about the appropriate course of action in any situation. Each shoe has a distinct color and shoe type, which are consistent with the requirements of that action style. This is not a framework for analysis but for action.
Usually, thinking is only half the equation──the other half is action. Therefore, the shoes metaphor is used to imply action. The different types and colors of shoes describe differing styles of action to be taken. Actions should be dictated by the circumstances. Differing situations can require up to six distinct and unique types of actions.
The focus on six different action styles allows a two step approach to actions:
Ask, "What type of action is required in this situation?"
Mentally put on the appropriate style of action shoes and act that way.
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