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.