One of the most challenging parts of creating a company is to be critical in your own thinking. All too often, the start-up becomes ‘your baby’ meaning that it is difficult to think objectively when making decisions. Often getting an external pair of eyes to look over your work is useful, particularly someone who has experience in that field; this is what I try to do as often as possible within the start-up community, and it is often reciprocated. It is also too easy to ask close friends and family, who are unlikely to give you an objective or fully honest view. This is the obvious premise behind companies paying so much money for consultants; however, as a start-up you don’t have the money to do this and it would probably not be too beneficial at this stage.
An easy way to get objective views of your idea in a structured format is by using Edward de Bono’s theory of Six Thinking Hats. This tool provides a means for groups to think in a detailed and organised way, ensuring that the thinking process is carried out effectively.
Each member of the group takes on a role when assessing the idea and is assigned a hat. Each hat has a different characteristic:
- White hat = facts: collecting all the information needed
- Red hat = feelings: using hunches and intuition
- Black hat = negative: thinking of the worst case scenario
- Yellow hat = positive: thinking of the best case scenario
- Green hat = creativity: thinking of ideas for alternatives
- Blue hat = control: manage the thinking process to give structure and ensure everyone is heard
I have often found that the most challenging part of this theory is sticking to your specific hat and within the characteristic constraints. However, when this is achieved, it provides a free, effective method of acquiring well-rounded views of your company and discover innovative features and ideas, as well as potential issues, which you may not have come across before.