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Creativity & Innovation

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 “You can do no better than to attend an Edward de Bono seminar.”
(Tom Peters)

Our Global Network of more than 900 certified trainers and meeting facilitators are located in 35 countries and speak 18 languages.  Contact us today at 1-888-978-6632 for meeting facilitation, public and on-site workshops, and consulting information.  We are happy to deliver a customized workshop, present a keynote at your upcoming conference, or facilitate an important meeting using our thinking tools and techniques.

Six Thinking Hats—Tools For Problem Solving, Meetings That Produce Actionable Output in Less Than Half the Time, Plus Targeted Creative Thinking

Do you lead a lot of meetings?  Are you frustrated by arguments, lack of preparation, and inaction?  Whether you conduct in-person or virtual meetings, teams need your assistance to move quickly toward project and process goals.   Six Thinking Hats is a training program that teaches specific techniques that will keep your meetings focused, efficient, productive, and results-oriented.  The measurable results include shorter meetings, thorough decisions, better communication and easier problem resolution.  By mentally wearing and switching symbolic “hats”, individuals or teams separate thinking into six categories for analyzing matters objectively and comprehensively.  It’s overwhelming to see the results that can be accomplished by a person or team who know how to separate emotion from facts, the positive from the negative, and critical thinking from creative thinking.

Six Thinking Hats can help a team achieve greater results, reduce conflicts, propel quality initiatives, hold productive meetings, and also to think creatively.  Six Hats puts an end to time-consuming, unproductive meetings, and the related stress and conflict.  Six Thinking Hats features SIX TOOLS that can cut meeting time in half and can help accomplish more output while eliminating argument and antagonism.  This practical, skill-building process, method, or structure replaces one-dimensional thinking with six-dimensional, parallel thinking.  The Six Metaphorical Hats (or modes of thinking) are:

  • The WHITE Hat:  The White Hat calls for information known or needed.  “The facts, just the facts.”
  • The YELLOW Hat:  The Yellow Hat symbolizes brightness and optimism.  Under this hat you can explore the positives and probe for value and benefit.
  • The BLACK Hat:  The Black Hat is judgment—the devil’s advocate or why something may not work.  Spot the difficulties and dangers, where things might go wrong.
  • The RED Hat:  The Red Hat signifies feelings, hunches, and intuition.  When using this hat you can express emotions and feelings and share fears, likes, dislikes, and hates.
  • The GREEN Hat:  The Green Hat focuses on creativity; the possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas.  It’s an opportunity to express new concepts and new perceptions.
  • The BLUE Hat:  The Blue Hat is used to manage the thinking process.  It’s the control mechanism that ensures the Six Thinking Hats guidelines are observed.


The Six Thinking Hats process has four specific uses: 

1)         A critical meeting facilitation tool
2)         An outstanding team productivity/communication tool
3)         A creativity enhancer
4)         A control mechanism used to maximize and organize thoughts more effectively

When used as a meeting management tool, Six Thinking Hats directs all individuals to be focused and to-the-point.  It’s also very effective in neutralizing employee rank, equalizing input when the very assertive and the introverted are on the same team.

 “Ideas are the currency of success; they separate you from your competition.”
(Edward de Bono)

Six Thinking Hats provide skills and tools that can be easily and powerfully applied.  The Hats are based on the philosophy--The difference between brilliant and mediocre teams lies not so much in their collective mental equipment, but in how well they use it and how well they work together.

“Six Thinking Hats excites everyone in the organization.  It has added a new dimension and accountability in our workplace and has shown excellent results.  We have adopted it as a company philosophy.”
(Ron Barbaro, Prudential Insurance)

Six Thinking Hats & Six Sigma

The underlying principal behind the introduction of creativity and innovation in the Six Sigma process is the ability of the organization to achieve breakthrough process improvement at a rapid pace rather than work only on incremental improvements step-by-step.

SIX THINKING HATS is a technique for stimulating and generating innovative ideas and solutions that will help improve the overall potential of Six Sigma in business improvement and development.

Creativity is Required in Each Facet of the DMAIC Cycle:

  • Define– Project selection and the opportunity for breakthrough.
  • Measure– What are the best ways to measure?  Are there different ways to measure?  What will be key customer requirements now and in the future?
  • Analyze– Different efficient methods for data collection and analysis will result in new approaches to looking at improvement opportunities.
  • Improve– Creativity in experimental design, process design and optimization without new approaches will by definition be flawed and conform to the old way to doing things.  The old clichés of making a better mousetrap rather than designing a system where mice do not enter.
  • Control– Creativity in control andmonitoring can have profound implications on the improvement effort.  New and different ways of control will result in more efficient and optimized processes.



“One good idea can be worth millions of dollars!"

Lateral Thinking is a systematic approach to thinking creatively—outside the box.  This set of tools will help an individual or a team to:

(1)   Innovate
(2)   Be creative
(3)   Break out of our paradigms
(4)   Develop new processes and products or improve old ones

If you have ever experienced the “well going dry” when it comes to idea generation, these seven toolswill guarantee you NEVER run out of ideas.  Ideas are the currency of success—they can separate you from your competition.  These tools can increase the number of new and practical ideas, build on the concept behind an idea, create additional alternatives, and spark creativity on demand.

Thinking can be divided into two methods:  One is called “vertical thinking,” which uses the processes of logic—the traditional, historical method.  The other is “lateral thinking,” which involves disrupting an apparent thinking sequence and arriving at the solution from another angle.  Lateral Thinking* is a way of thinking that seeks a solution to a problem through somewhat unorthodox methods or elements that would normally be ignored by logical thinking.  Lateral Thinking is based on the premise that most creative ideas are logical only in hindsight and are initially invisible to logic.  Lateral Thinking gives you the ability to see past those blind spots—to find new patterns and new concepts.  It gives you the power to create new, valuable ideas on demand.  

*Edward de Bono, in 1969, coined the phrase Lateral Thinking which is now in the Oxford English Dictionary.  “A way of thinking that seeks the solution to intractable problems through unorthodox methods or elements which would normally be ignored in logical thinking.”

The seven Lateral Thinking tools include the following:

  • ALTERNATIVES:  How to use concepts as a breeding ground for new ideas.  Sometimes we do not look beyond the obvious alternatives.  The Alternatives tool shows how to extract the concept behind a group of ideas and then use it to generate further alternatives.
  • FOCUS:  When and how to change the focus of your thinking.  The Focus tool provides a discipline of defining your focus and sticking to it.  This technique aids in the development of alternative definitions of the problem and a Creative Hit List. 
  • CHALLENGE:  With Challenge, we act as though the present way of doing things is not necessarily the best.  It is the willingness to explore the reasons why we do things the way we do.
  • RANDOM ENTRY:  This exotic tool uses unconnected input to open up new lines of thinking.  Random Entry (word, picture, or object) achieves true out-of-box thinking in an ideation session.
  • PROVOCATION:  Generating provocative statements and using them to build new ideas can have a powerful effect on idea generation.  This technique explores the nature of perception and how to tap (trick the brain) into increased and expanded creativity.
  • HARVESTING:  Capturing your creative output.  At the end of a creative thinking session, we normally only take note of the specific ideas that seem practical and have obvious value.  We need to make a deliberate harvesting effort to collect ideas and concepts that are less developed.
  • TREATMENT:  How to develop ideas and shape them to fit an organization or any given situation. 

Futurist Joel Barker has warned us of the dangers of paradigms—our minds are trained to find typical and predictable solutions to problems.  The tools of Lateral Thinking show how to get out of our paradigms, break out of our patterned way of thinking.  Lateral Thinking is a dependable, systematic approach to creative thinking.  (DuPont benchmarked every creativity process on the market for its Creativity Center.  Dr. David Tanner, then the head technical director of DuPont, said that the tools of Lateral Thinking are critical to DuPont.)

 “Our key professionals have embraced de Bono’s creative-thinking techniques.  The tools are having a profound impact on the quality of our thinking at IBM.”

(Jack Smulowitz, IBM Corporation)



The Key To Making Decisions That Will Deliver Maximum Value Lies In Creating A Framework That Is Specific Enough To Add Meaning But Is Also Pliable Enough To Expand And Contract With Each Unique Challenge.

If you could buy a crystal ball that would make tough decisions easier, would you buy it?  Pressure to keep stockholders or senior leaders happy can make value-based decisions difficult at every level.  How do you make value-based decisions when values themselves are so abstract and difficult to pin down?  Learning new ways to look at and talk about values can help.

You hear it all the time—what is our value proposition?  What’s our value added?  What if you could count on employees to sort options using a commonly understood framework that would increase the value of the organization at every turn—for customers, employees, stockholders, the community, and more?

What values need to be considered when producing an inexpensive product?  Deciding how to downsize the labor force?  Planning a new employee incentive program?  Six Value Medals provides a framework for focusing on one value (point of view) at a time.  THE RESULT?  More productive, positive and innovative decisions that work right the first time. 

“It was very satisfying to watch the participants learn about the Six Values and apply them both to their personal lives and our work here at GMAC Insurance.  The feedback from the attendees was very positive, and we are planning another class for March."

Michael Campbell, Six Value Medals Certified Trainer at GMAC

The key to making decisions that will deliver maximum value lies in creating a framework that is specific enough to add meaning but is also pliable enough to expand and contract with each unique challenge.  You'll find this framework is robust enough to support even the toughest decisions. 

The skills taught in Six Value Medals help people quickly but thoroughly scan for values, prioritize which values are the most important to pursue, and then ensure that top values are addressed and maximized every step of the way.  It's like putting on a pair of glasses with six lenses, one for each of the six important value categories.


  • Gold Medal: Gold is precious, and so are an organization’s people. The gold medal asks, What matters to our people? How will this decision affect our people? Human values include pride, achievement, a sense of belonging, hope, trust, and growth. 
  • Silver Medal: Silver impacts the organization. What matters to the organization? What are our goals as a company, and how will a prospective action help us or hinder us in pursuit of these goals? 
  • Steel Medal: Steel must be as strong as possible. What are the implications for quality? How will the decision at hand impact the quality of what we do? 
  • Glass Medal: Glass can take the shape of many functional, often beautiful and colorful objects. The glass medal covers change, innovation, simplicity, and creativity. What can we do to foster creativity and innovation in our organization? What changes in products, services, or internal processes could we try out? 
  • Wood Medal: Wood spotlights ecology values in the broadest sense: nature, ambience, community, political climate, etc. Who or what outside the organization might be affected by this? Is there a positive or negative impact if we take this road? 
  • Brass Medal: Brass looks like gold but is not. Brass medal values take into consideration appearances and perception, our image and reputation. How will this action be interpreted? What will people think? 

Too often, organizations cannot articulate the basis for their decisions.  As a result, they may fail to notice and resolve conflicts in values that have a negative impact on employees, the organization, clients, community relationships, and more.  Until now there has not been a concrete way to fully scan & assess the impact that a decision may have on our attempts to create and protect value.  WHEN EMPLOYEES CAN SCAN, IDENTIFY, AND PRIORITIZE VALUES, THEY BECOME VITAL PARTNERS IN SUPPORTING YOUR BUSINESS INITIATIVES.


POWER OF PERCEPTION—Tools that Clarify & Define a Targeted Situation or Focus

The Power of Perception (PoP) workshop provides a framework of 10 tools that will make problems simpler to resolve and decisions more targeted.  If you have ever said:  “I didn’t even think of that; it never entered my mind!”—PoP can help.

The way we see the world—our perception of it—determines the decisions we make.  Perceptions and existing beliefs powerfully drive our thinking, choices, and actions. Unfortunately, most mistakes in thinking are mistakes in perception.  We often confuse action with accomplishment and frequently jump to action without enough thought.  The Power of Perception encourages a broad and inclusive viewpoint.  The tools create a framework for defining any situation.  It is almost impossible to know WHAT IT IS that you are NOT aware of or do not know.  The PoP toolset will help you identify and understand the necessary information so that you don’t leave out important considerations when understanding problems and designing innovative solutions.  The ten tools are:

  • CONSEQUENCE AND SEQUEL:  Directs your attention to the future state.  It causes you to look ahead to see consequences of an action, plan, decision, or rule.
  • PLUS, MINUS, INTERESTING:  Ensures that all sides of a matter have been considered before a decision or commitment is made.
  • RECOGNIZE, ANALYZE, AND DIVIDE:  A tool that helps one break a larger concept into smaller, more manageable parts so that thinking can be sharpened.
  • CONSIDER ALL FACTORS:  Used early in the thinking session, one can explore all factors related to an action, decision, plan, judgment, or conclusion.
  • AIMS, GOALS, OBJECTIVES:  A focus tool that helps to clearly define the topic deliberately about the intentions behind actions.
  • ALTERNATIVES, POSSIBILITIES, CHOICES:  A creative tool that deliberately causes one to find other ways to achieve results.
  • OTHER PEOPLE’S VIEWS:  Forces one to direct attention to specific other people who may be impacted by the solution or decision.
  • KEY VALUES INVOLVED:  Helps to identify positive and negative values and helps ensure that your thinking serves your values.
  • FIRST IMPORTANT PRIORITIES:  A narrowing tool which helps select the most important ideas, factors, objectives, consequences, etc.
  • DESIGN/DECISION, OUTCOME, CHANNELS, ACTION:  An action tool, this tool helps define the outcome of thinking and the plan to deploy or carry it out.

These tools can make performance and thinking more deliberate, more structured, more organized, and more effective.  PoP is a type of “software for the mind.”  It provides strategies for sharpening perception and focusing thinking in a more comprehensive, effective, and efficient manner.

 “The Power of Perception  helped me increase proficiency in systematic thinking and decision making that will give me better thinking ability and a common language to use with other folks from within my organization.”
(Michael Bosscher, Steelcase)

“You can do no better than to attend an Edward de Bono seminar.”
(Tom Peters)



The world has changed!  To maintain competitive advantage, you must reconceptualize your business.  Better quality and better service are essential, but they are not enough today.  Creativity and innovation are the only engines that will drive lasting success. 

Over the last two decades, the two main trends have been (1) total quality and (2) downsizing—doing more with less.  Today, that is not enough.  You need to innovate in order to FIND BETTER WAYS of doing things.  It’s not enough to improve quality in each separate part of an organization.  The result is that the organization is still locked into an overall operation that really needs changing.  Because they have only looked at quality, not creativity, they end up operating inefficiently, but with high quality.  You need creativity within quality.

Similarly within restructuring and/or rightsizing, it is very inefficient if you just have a blanket “get rid of everything, cut all costs”.  You remove any cushion that allows you to do new things, to do new ventures.  You maximize on your existing concepts.  So even within restructuring or rightsizing, you need far more creativity than is currently the case.

The importance of creativity is from this basic concept:  We have a tendency to think in set patterns, which is of value, but it prevents us from tackling problems from totally new perspectives.  When you have wrung out all the fat, all of the excess, all of the unnecessary expenses, when you are lean and fit, you’re not going to get anymore benefit from downsizing and pursuing quality—That is where creativity comes in.  What are the values, what are the concepts, what can you offer, what is the surpetition?  Surpetition goes beyond competition (competition merely says that I am competing with my competitors).  Surpetition is seeking above, creating value for your customers and clients.  There is a growing need for creativity & innovation in today’s business environment. 

Most of us believe that you are born creative, that some people are given creative instincts.  If you look back over your life, how often have you ever sat down and thought about how do I think?  What is my thinking process?  How can I create new and better thoughts?  The traditional view of creativity is you take off your tie, sit on the floor, feel free, get relaxed, be silly, and wonderful thinking is going to happen if you are uninhibited.  That is a very weak approach to creativity and has held back the development of creativity.  Tools that foster innovation and greater creativity can and must be used deliberately and specifically.  We can then move away from this lip service—it’s nice to be creative, we’re the creative people—to a really serious investment and commitment to creativity. 


“Lateral Thinking, Six Thinking Hats, Power of Perception, & Six Value Medals are four of the most powerful techniques for innovative thinking”

(Dr. David Tanner, DuPont).

Creativity is like investing in research—R&D.  You cannot guarantee that every time you put a dollar into research you’re going to get a dollar out of it.  You CAN guarantee that if you never put any money into research, you’re never going to get any good ideas out of it.  It is the same with creativity.  YOU NEED TO INVEST IN CREATIVITY.  It’s a very low-cost investment compared to anything else with maximum potential return-on-investment.

NOTE:  All Workshops are CUSTOMIZED with your Specific Learning Objectives.


Mary Jo Huard, Owner at 1-888-978-6632 (Toll Free) or

E-mail: [email protected]

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