Santa Monica College Energie

This chapter discusses a problem-solving process, a useful tool for not only customer service but all aspects of life. Here is another model for problem solving called Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats Model. The Six Thinking Hats Model is similar to the problem-solving process presented in the textbook, but provides a visual way to go through the process.

Review the video and the summary below. Then complete the assignment below.

de Bono’s Six Hats (In this example, using hotel customer service breakdowns.)


The White Hat calls for information known or needed. “The facts, just the facts.” Look at the information that you have, analyze past trends, and see what you can learn from it. Look for gaps in your knowledge, and try to either fill them or take account of them.

Example: The reservation agent may not have added early check-in to reservation.


The Green Hat focuses on creativity; the possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas. Use it to generate possible solutions. This is where you develop creative solutions to a problem. It is a freewheeling way of thinking, in which there is little criticism of ideas. 

Example: Offer another room, store bags, pay for lunch, ask housekeeping to make room a priority, upgrade to a suite, put customer in a neighboring hotel.


The Yellow Hat allows you to explore the positives and probe for value and benefit. The yellow hat allows you to see the benefits of the proposed solutions. It is the optimistic viewpoint that helps you to see all the benefits of the decision and the value in it. Yellow Hat thinking helps you to keep going when everything looks gloomy and difficult.

Example: Customer will be happier.


The Black Hat is judgment—the devil’s advocate or why something may not work. Spot the difficulties and dangers of where things might go wrong. The black hat asks you to look at the negatives of a solution. Look at it cautiously and defensively. Try to see why it might not work. This is important because it highlights the weak points in a plan. It allows you to eliminate them, alter them, or prepare contingency plans to counter them.

Black Hat thinking helps to make your plans “tougher” and more resilient. It can also help you to spot fatal flaws and risks before you embark on a course of action. It’s one of the real benefits of this model, as many successful people get so used to thinking positively that they often cannot see problems in advance. This leaves them under-prepared for difficulties.

Example: Customer may still be angry.


The Red Hat signifies feelings, hunches, and intuition. When using this hat, you can express emotions and feelings and share fears, likes, and dislikes. This gives people the chance to share their “gut” feelings about the solutions. Also, think how others could react emotionally. Try to understand the responses of people who do not fully know your reasoning.

Example: Customer is tired and cranky from traveling; he or she is frustrated with the reservations department.


The Blue Hat is used to manage the thinking process. It makes sure all hats are used and summarizes the information, allowing the group to make a decision. It’s the hat worn by people chairing meetings, for example. When facing difficulties because ideas are running dry, they may direct activity into Green Hat thinking. When contingency plans are needed, they will ask for Black Hat thinking.

Example: Offer to store the customer’s bag, buy him lunch in the hotel, and ask housekeeping to work on the customer’s room immediately.

Then, using three of the six hats, solve a problem (from the customer service perspective) of your choice. At this stage in the course you are aware how service breakdowns negatively impact the customer experience. It might be easier to think of a service breakdown you have experienced. How would you attempt to solve the problem using at least three of the the hats above. You can use the same service breakdown for the three hats you select, or seperate service breakdowns for the three hats you select.

You only need to use three of the six hats for this assignment.

Sal Veas’ ski resort Service Breakdown example. You can elaborate with more details to clarify your situation. Or, you can use a different format.

White Hat: Ticket reservations only include adults. Children of family are not listed.

Example: Was the reservation system faulty? Was the online website reservation system not working appropriately? Did the travel agent forget to include the children?

Green Hat: Ticket reservations only include adults. Children of family are not listed.

Example: If possible add children to reservation. If resort is at capacity, offer free tickets to the next day. 

Yellow Hat: Customer is late to morning ski lesson and the group has already left. 

Example: Offer to substitute an afternoon lesson instead. Customer can still take a lesson that day.

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