How to Make Creative Decisions

An easy guide on making effective decisions within your creative practice using the Six Thinking Hats technique.


Author: Shannon Skye Robinson



In your practice, do you sometimes find it challenging to make decisions? Have you ever experienced mid-project burnout? Do you often have too many ideas? Or maybe too few? Do you occasionally find it difficult to find the decision that feels "just right" for your project?

Many of us do- this is part and parcel of being a creative practitioner; because creativity is not linear.

Some days, decision-making can be a breeze, and your creativity is flowing with almost no effort. Other days, you are in a creative slump, struggling to make even the simplest of choices.

As a creative individual, I am very familiar with the indecisiveness that comes with burnout. And when I find myself in one of these slumps, I turn to the six thinking hats.

(Image Description- a young male in a black t-shirt and glasses, sat in front of a laptop, holding a notebook)



The six thinking hats was a book published by Edward de Bono in 1985. The book explored the use of parallel thinking for effective decision-making. By looking at your situation from many different angles, we can see the bigger picture. These techniques can be utilised in many situations, from maximising the productivity of meetings, to making personal lifestyle choices.




 


Here is my step-by-step guide on using the six thinking hats to make constructive, creative decisions.


White Hat

The "White Hat" is concerned with facts, data and information.


Firstly, start by jotting down all the information you know or need to make your decision. What is the choice you are struggling to make? Pose it as a question to yourself and write it down.


It may also be beneficial to note any deadlines you may have, your budget, or any other information relevant to your decision.



Example:


The decision I need to make: How am I going to ship my artwork to London.

Deadline for shipment: 11 August

Budget for shipping: £200


 

Green Hat

The "Green Hat" represents creativity and ideas.


The next step is to note all of your potential solutions to your decision. Write these down without second-guessing yourself and without judgement- this comes later. Try to list as many as you can, even if you think they won't work.

Example:

  • Deliver them myself in the car

  • Deliver them myself on the train

  • Take them to the post office

  • Organise to drop off at a local shipping company

  • Have a private courier collect and ship them


 

Yellow Hat

The "Yellow Hat" explores the benefits of your choices.


Next, perhaps using a different coloured pen, take note of the benefits of each choice and think optimistically!

Example:

  • Deliver them myself in the car (I can ensure the safety of the artwork and I get to meet the team who will receive the artwork)

  • Deliver them myself on the train (more environmentally friendly and I get to meet the team)

  • Take them to the post office (quick option, only have to go into town)

  • Organise to drop them off at a local shipping company (this would be very quick and convenient)

  • Have a private courier collect and ship them (time-friendly, very convenient option)


 

Black Hat

The "Black Hat" is the hat of judgement.


Once you have your choice options and their benefits, it is now time to weigh them up against the negatives. Take a note of any possible issues that may arise from each choice.

Example:

  • Deliver them myself in the car (I can ensure the safety of the artwork and I get to meet the team who will receive the artwork. But this will take up more of my time)

  • Deliver them myself on the train (more environmentally friendly and I get to meet the team. But they could easily be damaged by other passengers and the artwork may be difficult to carry on and off)

  • Take them to the post office (quick option, only have to go into town but can easily be damaged in shipment and there are limited insurance options)

  • Organise to drop off at a local shipping company (This would be very quick and convenient. But they could be damaged in shipment)

  • Have a private courier collect and ship them (time-friendly, very convenient option but this can be very costly)

 

Red Hat

The "Red Hat" is concerned with emotion.


Next, what does your gut tell you? Do you have any specific emotions towards each option? Weigh up your choices and cross off decisions as you go.

Example:

  • Deliver them myself in the car (I can ensure the safety of the artwork and I get to meet the team who will receive the artwork. But this will take up more of my time) *best option*

  • Deliver them myself on the train (more environmentally friendly and I get to meet the team. But they could easily be damaged by other passengers and the artwork may be difficult to carry on and off) Far too easy to damage.

  • Take them to the post office (quick option, only have to go into town but can easily be damaged in shipment and there are limited insurance options) Wouldn't feel comfortable posting them with such limited insurance options.

  • Organise to drop off at a local shipping company (very quick and convenient but they could be damaged in shipment)

  • Have a private courier collect and ship them (time-friendly, very convenient option but this can be very costly) Not enough budget left.

 

Blue Hat

The "Blue Hat" focuses on planning and organising.


Finally, now that you have your decision, create a step-by-step plan on how you propose to complete the task.

Example:


Date to take paintings to London: 10th August

Time to drive there and back: 6 hours


Need to buy:

  • Extra bubble wrap/padding

  • Parcel Tape

Must remember:

  • Painting paperwork/documents

  • Insurance documents

 

And that's it! Your plan is now complete. Feel free to use these steps whenever you are feeling indecisive.

I hope this helps you to conquer the mid-project burnout and to make some effective decisions.

Do you have any of your own tips? If so, then please leave them in the comments below.



 

Links:

Six Thinking Hats book by Edward de Bono

Six Thinking Hats website