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Routinely, many people think from analytical, critical, logical perspectives, and rarely view the world from emotional, intuitive, creative, or even purposely negative viewpoints. Lateral thinking is reasoning that offers new ways of looking at problems—coming at them from the side rather than from the front—to foster change, creativity, and innovation. One tool of lateral thinking, the Five CEO Hats technique, was devised by de Bono in 1985 to give groups a means to reflect together more effectively, one thing at a time.

Specifically, what are the right hats to be wearing? And how much time should be spent with each hat? We call this The Five CEO Hats. The specific roles of the five hats are: The Architect, The Engineer, The Coach, The Player and The Learner. Let’s dig more deeply into the Five Hats that you should be wearing.


The Architect : When you’re wearing the hat of an architect, you’re working on the business model for your operation. The areas of focus are the market, your offer, pricing, competitive advantage and improving your lead. This means you’ll be planning, thinking and plotting strategy. For example, let’s say you have launched or are thinking about launching a new product line or service. By donning your architect hat, you’ll spend your time focused on answering questions such as: Whom are we going to sell to? What problem are we solving? How are we going to price our product or service and how much margin are we going to make on it? How do we ensure recurring revenue in the model? Spending time on tasks like these is incredibly valuable to your business where every hour you invest will yield a strong multiplier effect, meaning you’ll get, say, a five- to ten-times or even greater return on every hour you invest in these tasks.


The Engineer : When you’re wearing the hat of the engineer, you’re working on implementing and improving the processes that align with the value proposition of your business. With your architect hat on, you ask, “What?” With your engineer cap on, on the other hand, you ask, “How?” With your engineer hat on, you might spend your time thinking about how to greet your customers after they arrive at the hotel or how to cut wait times when they’re visiting your theme park. In other words, you’re looking for ways to make functional improvements to your organization that delight customers.


The Coach : With your coach’s hat on, you’ll spend your time thinking about talent: how to acquire it, improve it, and divest yourself of under-performing team members. Just like the manager of a basketball team, you’re spending time thinking about how to get your players to perform better on the field. That could mean spending an hour with each of your direct reports and sharing some insight about how they might improve their performance. If, by doing so, you increase each individual’s performance just 5 or 10%, you have multiplied the effect of your time in a permanent way.


The Learner : The best and most humble Executives realize they don’t have all the answers and that to keep themselves and their company growing, they, too, have to keep learning. They are part of the talent in the business and can be outpaced by a fast moving operation, like anyone else. That means finding ways to educate yourself both inside and outside of your organization. when you put your learning hat on, you gain the ability to see over the hill and gauge what’s coming next in terms of informing and sparking the kinds of new ideas that will continue to propel your business.


The Player : In smaller / start up companies, most entrepreneurs & executives spent their time with their player hat on, meaning that then would bury themselves in different functional areas such as sales, engineering, accounting or operations. The rub, however, is that they fail to evolve from wearing their player hat all the time. The best Executives come to recognize that they need to take on new roles and let other people step in and take over.

There is no right answer when it comes to allocating the right amount of time to wearing any or all of the Five CEO Hats. The right mix depends on your business and where your constraints and opportunities lie. Conceptually, it might mean spending time wearing your architect hat, then transitioning to an engineering role so you can implement the processes you need for the new business model, followed by playing the role of coach and player to see the changes through with your team.

At Employwise, we share such informative articles to provides a common language that works in different cultures and promotes collaborative thinking, sharpens focus, facilitates communication, reduces conflict, enables thorough evaluations, improves exploration, fosters creativity and innovation, saves time, and boosts productivity.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!” 

How many of us hear it from people around us !

Classic examples of above idiom - Computers to old people, internet surfing, digging out information from internet, new age ways of working, travel and bookings.

A great quote from Henry Ford (the founder of the Ford Motor Company) is, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether 20 or 80.” 

There is an unfortunate tendency to confuse ‘Learning’ with ‘Schooling’.

Even when this is not the case, we sometimes suffer from the peculiar debilitating tendency to wish to ‘cut people to size’, the so called ‘tall poppy syndrome’. In this case, people who voluntarily seek to better themselves through education, training, or self – directed learning are often undermined by colleagues, friends, and family – the very people who whose support and encouragement they most need.


Evolution of a Learner


Why is it necessary to motivate people to “keep learning”?

  • Because people will only plan for consistent learning activities through their lifetime if they desire.
  • They would not want to take up learning exercises in which their very roots are laughed at or demeaned in some way !
  • Lastly they would want to invest in time, effort and money only in those skills and expertise which is recognized tangibly !

Hence essential to raise the demand for learning as well as its supply.

People across all spectrums encouraged to follow open learning pathways, make choices, pick their learning destinations, so and forth !

But all this is easier said than done, there may be many barriers such as :

  • Physical barriers – work, family, childcare responsibilities
  • Attitudinal barriers – Low confidence, self esteem, aspiration, societal pressure, age factor
  • Structural barriers – infrastructural support for aiding learning

Lifelong Learning and the Future of Work

Job opportunities continue to grow in emerging spaces such as virtual reality, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and autonomous vehicles. At the same time, existing roles in fields from healthcare to finance are changing dramatically as new tools and technologies are adopted. The concept of lifelong learning is accordingly transforming from a discretionary aspiration to a career necessity. No longer is it a supplemental luxury to learn new skills, and no longer is learning new skills something you do only when you’re pursuing a significant career change. Being relevant, competitive, and in-demand in today’s fast-moving world requires an ongoing commitment to lifelong learning regardless of your role or career path.

Going forward, we’ll need a generation of workers who are hungry to learn and eager to keep pace with the times. They will pioneer new ways of combining business and technology to be more productive, and they’ll update old work models to match. Organizations across industries will look for curious, flexible, data-driven minds in both blue collar and white collar jobs. They’ll want people with the proven ability to keep learning and stay relevant in their field of expertise; people who actively pursue opportunities where their transferable skills might be applicable.

The need to retool

Innovative ways of solutioning, re-thinking, approaching the problem from different perspective, mapping options, retooling has evolved big time !

The future of work

A 2016 report issued by the World Economic Forum entitled Future Workforce Strategy offers detailed insights on all the issues discussed herein, and the report is highly recommended of particular interest are what the report terms as areas for “Longer Term Focus.”

Rethinking education systems

“Businesses should work closely with governments, education providers and others to imagine what a true 21st century curriculum might look like.”

Incentivizing lifelong learning

“Simply reforming current education systems to better equip today’s students to meet future skills requirements—as worthwhile and daunting as that task is—is not going to be enough to remain competitive.”

Cross-industry and public-private collaboration

“Businesses should work with industry partners to develop a clearer view on future skills and employment needs, pooling resources where appropriate to maximize benefits … Such multi-sector partnerships and collaboration, when they leverage the expertise of each partner in a complementary manner, are indispensable components of implementing scalable solutions to jobs and skills challenges.”

At Employwise, our compact, flexible, and economical offerings are expressly built to make lifelong learning possible for all who commit to pursuing it.

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