Would you like to play a game?*
I’m going to reveal an innovative framework for thinking about your business that can lead to fresh insights about your customer and business growth.
We will role-play six unique ways to think about how you communicate and approach your business prospects and audiences. The forum is your online marketing and advertising. And if you want to use the six ways to spice up your love life, chances are fair that you’ll be able to adapt The de Bono method in the bedroom as well.
Our game starts with a few easy questions.
You’ll answer these questions in your head as clearly and honestly as possible (no one is listening so don’t hold back).
Let’s get into Role
- Have you ever role-played in bed?
- If no, have you ever fantasized about role-playing with someone in bed?
Either way, think about your experience and answer the questions below:
- Was it fun or exciting?
- Did it feel a little strange?
- Were you worried you couldn’t go through with it?
- Did it make you feel different?
- Did it feel fantastic?
- Was it bad or awkward?
- Was it like all the other times?
Whether your experience was positive, negative, or just strange, one thing is almost certain. Your answer to question seven (was it like all the other times?) was almost certainly, NO.
You were playing a part. You were acting like someone or something different. It changes your perspective.
What if role-playing could help you gain a new perspective in how you position your business to potential customers or audiences?
Let’s continue fleshing out your role.
In the 80’s an Oxford trained Doctor and Psychologist named Edward de Bono wrote a book called, Six Hats Thinking. Doctor de Bono’s book is about conceptual and creative thinking.
“The main difficulty of thinking is confusion,” writes Edward de Bono, long recognized as the foremost international authority on conceptual thinking and on the teaching of thinking as a skill. “We try to do too much at once. Emotions, information, logic, hope, and creativity all crowd in on us. It is like juggling with too many balls.”
de Bono is credited with having originated the concept of Lateral thinking, which involves solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic.
What is de Bono’s solution for better thinking?
Dr. de Bono’s six hats approach tries to unscramble the thinking process by teaching people to think more skillfully using role-playing to experience new perspectives. Six thinking hats to be exact. They include:
- WHITE HAT: neutral and objective, concerned with facts and figures
- RED HAT: the emotional view
- BLACK HAT: careful and cautious, the “devil’s advocate” hat
- YELLOW HAT: sunny and positive
- GREEN HAT: associated with fertile growth, creativity, and new ideas
- BLUE HAT: cool, the color of the sky, above everything else-the organizing hat.
With the roles defined, it’s common to have members of your team play the different roles while discussing a problem or solution or in evaluating a decision. I never ran into the de Bono method when I was working in big advertising or marketing teams earlier in my career but it’s possible to adapt as a prompt for individuals.
Stuck in the echo chamber that is your own mind
As business owners, we don’t experience the kind of feedback and collaboration you do when working in a big group. That can be a disadvantage when unique perspectives are in demand. There is a key advantage too. In a small business, we’re as close to the customer as you can get. Unlike big organizations that have to rely on third-party information like reports, simulations, and focus groups, we get the real deal 99.9% of the time.
If we want to try something new, we bring it up on the next client phone call. We get immediate and direct feedback. This direct feedback is our ace in the hole for developing ideas for our marketing and advertising….If we listen for it.
And therein lies the problem. It’s hard to see the world, our customers, our friends, lovers, or spouses as something other than the filters that we see them through. It’s our own version of reality.
With the six hats method we can attempt to role-play our way out of our existing mental models. Getting back to the bedroom for a moment. Dressing up differently and acting differently changed our experience (even if it was just a fantasy of role-playing). You didn’t think the same or feel the same. You were wearing a different hat. We want to use the power of six hats to let us experience new perspectives directly, to help us see our own company through fresh eyes.
Adapt Six Hats To What You Are Communicating About Your Business
I want you to try adapting a ‘six hats’ thinking exercise with the goal of evaluating your website home page (keep in mind this is a loose interpretation of the six hats approach). Get de Bono’s six hats in front of you where you can refer to them and put yourself in mind of a very specific kind of person who would visit your home page. It may be helpful to read more about each of the six hats at de Bono Consulting’s page here.
Be very specific. Name him or her (I’ll use Bill) and think in detail about who Bill is, where he’s from, and how he looks and acts. Think about what kind of problem Bill might have or a solution they might be seeking that led them to your website and home page.
Bill (or what ever their name is in your mind) should be a model of the kind of person you’d love to have as a new customer or someone you’d welcome as a new reader of your website. Jot these details down for later.
Now with Bill in mind we’re going to start trying on deBono’s six colored hats.
You’re now Bill. Walk through your website as Bill with the white hat. WHITE HAT: neutral and objective, concerned with facts and figures. What’s the first thing you see as objective Bill? A logo, a headline, a photo? Given your objective approach to life BILL, with your concern for facts and figures, what might you (Bill) think as you scan down the home page deciding quickly if you’ve arrived at someplace helpful or wasteful of your attention? Work your way through the page this way. Write down your reactions from Bill’s perspective. OK Bill, you can take the white hat off now. Now put on the RED HAT: the emotional view. Repeat the process, writing down your reactions as you go. Repeat with all six color hats.
Review and compile your reactions.
Does anything stand out to you? Are there any patterns that emerge across different colored hats? Are there some unique perspectives that caught your attention or felt or looked different than how you yourself have seen your home page in the past?
Did wearing certain color hats garner positive reactions from Bill while others made your home page seem woefully inadequate? I get plenty of strong reactions from reading my own home page (gadzooks!).
By this time you might be feeling alternately charged full of ideas and horrified at the gap between where you thought you were before and where you think you are now (objective Bill can be such a pain in the ass!). But take heart, this kind of exercise may help you uncover why your website isn’t producing leads or why so many people are hitting the back button after visiting your home page for only two seconds.
This article highlights an example of how you might apply de Bono’s six hats method to gauge initial reactions to your website home page. It’s an exercise in ‘thinking different.’ You could go a lot further by diving into more of de Bono’s work by reading Six Hats Thinking or even attending one of deBono’s workshops. I recommend you explore his method more and his book is a great place to start. Thanks for stopping by.
*”Would you like to play a game?” Geek Moment: One of my favorite movie lines from the 1986 movie War Games starring Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy.