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Thinking Hats

Published 2/26/2016

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone, welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and in today's episode I'm going to be talking about identifying your mode of thinking. Today's episode is sponsored by Dev Bootcamp. And Dev Bootcamp is an immersive coding program that transforms beginners into full stack web developers. Head over to devbootcamp.com slash Developer Teato learn more. Of course we will talk a little bit more about Dev Bootcamp later on in today's episode. But first I want to jump straight into this discussion about identifying your mode of thinking. You know I like to believe I am strictly a logical person. I make decisions based on statistics and outcomes. But sometimes obviously this is simply not true. Sometimes I make decisions entirely based on emotion or perhaps based on experience. But I have a primary way of thinking, a primary mode of thinking and perceiving the world. And the amazing thing is that when I sit in the room with another developer we can have very different primary modes of thinking. And you may be thinking well of course this is obvious right? Everyone has a different personality and therefore everyone thinks differently from each other. And that's exactly right. We're all individuals with different ways of interpreting the world around us. Disapplies to our relationships, it applies to our habits and tendencies and it applies to our problem solving methods that we use on the job every single day. So it's no surprise that we all have different perspectives. This is one of the most fundamentally human things, natural individualism from the core makeup of our DNA. So what we often miss is how this puts a lens on our thinking that we don't even realize is there. So let's go back to my personal mode of thinking. I like to believe I'm a logical person as I said before and most of the time this is true. I work by destructuring systems, determining kind of how they fit together, understanding that system, manipulating it in ways to meet particular goals. And this is a pretty common way of thinking for developers generally speaking. The ability to determine how a given system works and to be able to either build your own system or manipulate another system. Understanding the details of those implementations, that's what developers are good at. And this ability to understand the individual components that make up the whole is a powerful and important skill. But as developers, we must also be aware that this mode of thinking may come with some side effects. Over Debono, who is famous for his hypothesis about what he called lateral thinking, he's kind of considered the father of lateral thinking, he coined this quote, creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way. Debono also came up with a way to describe these modes of thinking that I'm discussing here. He uses different colored hats to determine six modes of thinking. This is quite literally the thinking cap. A white hat is considered neutral thinking. I would say this is the most common hat for Developer That they prefer to wear. A red hat represents emotions and hunches. A black hat represents judging and evaluating. This one is also probably fairly common for developers. A yellow hat represents optimism and positive views. A green hat represents ideas and creativity. And finally, a blue hat represents big picture and control. Now, Debono believes that we can all wear these different hats and move between modes of thinking. But if there's anything that you take away from today's episode, let it be this. We have a natural tendency to reject the ideas coming from a different color hat than we are currently wearing. In other words, we have a natural tendency to reject ideas that are coming from a different mode of thinking than we are currently operating under. Whether you like the hat metaphor or not, the reality is that we all shift between these six modes of thinking most often non-deliberately. It's far too easy for us to only judge ideas, matching our current mode of thinking as acceptable. But this is an inaccurate depiction of reality. We'll talk a bit more about how we can think about Debono's metaphor. And then I'm going to give you a few takeaway suggestion points for how to understand your own mode of thinking right after we talk about today's sponsor. Today's episode is sponsored by Deb Bootcamp. If you're thinking about becoming a software developer, you should check out Deb Bootcamp. Deb Bootcamp is a short-term, immersive software development program that transforms those who are new to coding into job-ready, full-stack web developers. By the way, that's what I am. I am a full-stack web developer. And I wish that when I started that I had something like Deb Bootcamp, because a lot of the stuff that I had to teach myself, I could have learned much faster had I had a program like Deb Bootcamp. Learn front-end and back-end web development. Teamwork and leadership skills in a rigorous and inclusive environment at Deb Bootcamp. Deb Bootcamp has several locations around the country and they're accepting applications now, so if you want to apply, visit debbookcamp.com slash Developer Teato learn more. Thanks again to Deb Bootcamp for sponsoring the show. Of course, that link and any other relevant links for today's episode can be found at spec.fm. So we're talking about our thinking caps, specifically Edward D'Amona's model of thinking caps, this six different modes of thinking, the white hat, the red hat, black yellow, green and blue, each of these describing different modes of thinking. It's easy for me, most often, to label things that aren't logical, for example, as superfluous. And I'm wearing my neutral and judging hats in that moment. But the truth is that every one of these modes of thinking represents something that we talked about at the beginning of the episode. It represents the individuality of our humanity. And when we create tools for humans to use, we must remember that even if it doesn't match our current mode of thinking, all ideas have validity. Not understanding the mode of thinking, another person is currently exercising, is the source of a ton of communication issues, and ultimately the source of a lot of conflict and disagreement. And really, the most important thing here is that this can stall out a project. For example, if you disagree with your client because you're wearing different hats whenever you meet with them, that can stall out progress on a project, and it can stall out your relationships with those clients. So I'm going to give you some takeaway points for how you can understand and better perform in your own mode of thinking. These will be especially useful if this discussion struck a chord with you, and if you feel like your team's thinking isn't aligning properly, and you're hitting a lot of walls with conflict, especially interpersonal conflict. So the first tip, or takeaway point, rather, is to try on new hats on purpose. Try on new hats on purpose. Perhaps one of the most underappreciated quotes when it comes to psychology and conflict resolution is, put yourself in their shoes. I don't know who said this one. I don't think it was DiBono, but put yourself in their shoes. The underlying concept of imagining the world in a different light forces you to do two things. First, it forces you to recognize that your own mode of thinking is, in fact, not a universal way of thinking, but rather that you can set it aside and think in a different way. And secondly, it forces you to simulate the mindset of another person. This simulation can build the powerful and often misunderstood skill of empathy. You know, we think about empathy. We often think about pain. And rightfully so, the effect of empathy is incredibly strong when we identify with another person's pain, but we can learn to exercise empathy for other human experiences as well. Specifically, we can learn to develop empathy for other modes of thinking that don't match our own in that moment. This provides us with the perspective we need to be able to work well with people who think differently from us. So how does this exercise actually play out? How do you intentionally put on new hats? Well, you can do this on your own internally first, just to see how it changes the way you think personally. And I would recommend trying that out. Exercise a series of thoughts with each of the six hats. And don't allow yourself to reject those thoughts as invalid. You'll notice that you'll tend to gravitate towards one or maybe two of the thoughts or perspectives as the one that you feel like is the most valid. And these are probably the hats that you are wearing at that time and perhaps your common mode of thinking. You can also try this with a team of people. Tell each person during the meeting to preface the statements that they make with whatever hat that they're wearing. This works better if for each statement the individuals make, they make a secondary statement with a different perspective. In other words, you could say, well, when I'm wearing my white hat, I think about it this way. But when I'm wearing my black hat or my yellow hat, maybe I would think about it this way. And the reason it's important to have the differing perspective, that secondary perspective, is that it may end up just being you presenting your normal mode of thinking over and over. And the conversation and the exercise doesn't really exist at that point, right? That doesn't accomplish what we're trying to accomplish here, which is the flexibility of perspective. We want to experience and gain respect for other modes of thinking than our own. The first tip was try on new hats on purpose. The second tip is don't stop arguing your points. This may seem a little bit antithetical to what we were saying before that everything is valid. All thoughts are valid and all modes of thinking are valid. But just because everyone's perspective is valid and every mode of thinking is valid, that doesn't mean that every thought is correct or that every decision is beneficial. We can't miss out on this point because it's incredibly important to understand what we are and what we aren't talking about here. Operating within your mode of thinking is incredibly important to do and all modes are valid, but not all ideas will be good. All ideas will be beneficial or move you towards your goal. So it is important that each person makes an argument for their ideas, regardless of what mode of thinking the ideas come from. The important distinction here and what makes this not antithetical to what we were saying before, and perhaps the most difficult part of this is understanding that it's unproductive and perhaps damaging to discount an idea simply for its mode of thinking. But that doesn't make the idea good. It's our job to accept the motivations for the thinking as valid and then determine what ideas themselves stand out as the ones that are most likely to accomplish our goals based on the substance of the idea, not the mode of thinking that it originated from. So those are the two tips or takeaway points that I have for you today. Number one was try on new hats on purpose. Make this an exercise. You can do this internally. You can do this with a team explicitly or once again, you know, kind of abstracted away from the conversation. And secondly, don't stop arguing your points. Your thoughts are valid. Number one, your thoughts are valid. And the origination of that thought should never be used to judge that thought. But that's true for everyone else as well. And it's important that we argue our points because somebody has to move forward, right? If we all have good ideas that we all try to implement, then we're going to stall out just as much as if we were to say we are going to implement any of them. We can't follow every single path. We have to eventually make a decision. And that's what this is really about. When you're arguing between one path or another, eventually you do have to take one of those paths. And just because the origination of those ideas is valid, it doesn't mean that the idea itself is necessarily the best idea, the best direction for your project, for your client, whatever it is that you're working on. I hope you've enjoyed this episode of Developer Tea. I hope it is kind of making you think about the way that you process your conversations. And ultimately, I hope it is going to provoke you into gaining a higher level perspective. One that understands the perspectives of the people around you and makes decisions based on the value of the thought rather than the origin point of that thought. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. Today's episode is sponsored by Dev Bootcamp. Dev Bootcamp is an immersive coding program that transforms beginners into full stack web developers. You can head over to devbootcamp.com slash Developer Teato learn more. Of course, that link and every other link from today's episode can be found at spec.fm. If you're enjoying the show, make sure you subscribe in whatever podcasting app you use. This is the best way to make sure that you don't miss out on future episodes. And if you're enjoying the show, please leave a review and iTunes. This is actually the best way to help other developers find Developer Tea. Thank you so much for listening. Follow us at app.Developer Teaon Twitter. You can send in questions to developertea@gmail.com. And until next time, enjoy your tea.