Learn to Value Ideas
Being cautious is a biologically-driven function. The animal aspect of our brain is wired for survival. As an inborn trait, it’s the human being’s default way of processing information.
Caution is important, but in excess, it leads one to being judgmental and critical of everything. People dominated by this perspective can be negative, life draining and difficult to be around. Dominantly cautious people are also called “dream stompers” as they are quick to point out what’s wrong with other people’s ideas and dreams.
Caution is a useful function in business because it can help you strengthen your ideas and avoid making critical errors. The opposite of caution—the ability to value an idea—is also of great value, but a much less developed ability in most people.
Developer of the Six Thinking Hats Edward de Bono explains, “We need to develop ‘value sensitivity.’ That means being as sensitive to value as we already are sensitive to danger. I have sat in on many creative meetings where excellent ideas have been generated. Unfortunately, the people present do not see the value in their own ideas. It is a waste of time setting out to be creative if you are not going to recognize a good idea.”
The perspective that values ideas, de Bono calls Yellow Hat. Whereas cautionary thinking (Black Hat) comes natural to most, Yellow Hat’s value sensitivity needs to be learned and cultivated.
Start by suspending judgment when an idea is put forth. Evaluate the idea from different perspectives, looking for potential benefits and ways of putting the idea into practice. Invest time looking for positive aspects of an idea instead of just being critical.
To criticize an idea you have to ask, What’s wrong with this? In wearing a Yellow Hat, ask, What value is there in this idea? What benefits and merits does this idea hold?
Be receptive to the positive aspects of your ideas and those of your team members. Value sensitivity helps you make new alchemical connections and unearth more novel, quality ideas.