Learning To Think In 5Q Colors

The 5Q Central Blog is a space where you can count on finding practical ways to put 5Q/APEST on its feet in your Church, Organization, Small Group; basically anything with organic human beings in relationship and oriented around moving toward a common goal. The more you share, in everything from reviews to comments to tweets, the more we learn how we can partner with you and help you get the most out of the material in the book and on the blog.

If you haven’t already received your copy the new book, 5Q: Reactivating the Original Intelligence and Capacity of the Body of Christ…seriously, what are you waiting for? Check out this review by Bill Hull, if you aren’t yet a believer.

This week, we want to point you to The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church, as another tool you can use to help apply what you read in 5Q. In the excerpt that follows, Alan helps us engage a paradigm of “Thinking 5Q.” How do you begin to change the culture of your team? Try this! 

Another way of approaching team dynamics and problem solving is something I have recently developed called the APEST thinking hats. My source of inspiration is a problem-solving tool called the six thinking hats developed by creative-thinking specialist Edward de Bono.  In de Bono’s model, the six hats represent six modes of thinking. Most people tend to opt for one or another of these hats because we usually see things from a single perspective and tend to reject other types of thinking.

The approach requires that everyone change hats, and when a certain color hat is on, everyone has to think in accordance with that color. People can thus contribute under any hat even though they might have supported an opposite view.

Approaching this exercise as a game means that no one needs to get defensive (it’s a game after all); each type of thinking will eventually be heard. Here are the various “hats”:

White hat: Think of white paper. It is neutral and carries information. The white hat has to do with data and information and therefore asks what information we have, what information is missing, what information we would like to have, and how we can get that information.

Red hat: Think of red fire and warmth. This has to do with feelings, intuition, hunches, and emotions. “Putting on my red hat, this is what I feel . . .” “My gut feeling is . . .” “My intuition tells me prices will soon fall . . .”

Black hat: Think of a judge wearing black robes who comes down heavily on wrongdoers. This is the caution hat. It prevents us from making mistakes, arriving at decisions hastily, or doing silly or illegal things. It points out why something cannot be done or why it will not work.

Yellow hat: Think of sunshine. The yellow hat is for optimism and a positive view. It looks for feasibility and how something can be done. It looks for benefits, but they must be logically based: “That might work if we . . .”

Green hat: Think of vegetation and rich growth. The green hat is for creative thinking, new ideas, additional alternatives, possibilities, and hypotheses. This requires creative effort: “We need some new ideas here.” “Are there any alternatives?” “Could we do this differently?” “Could there be another explanation?”

Blue hat: Think of the sky and an overview. Blue hat thinking is visionary thinking. It looks at things from the broadest possible vantage point. “If we had a blank check and anything was possible, what would we do?” “How will we do this? What process can be used?” “What are the implications for our overall strategy?”

Now apply the same idea to APEST, where each role is a hat. You can define a problem facing the team and work your way through the hats in trying to solve it. By putting the A hat on, everyone has to try to see the problem (and the solution) from the apostle’s perspective—for example, the interests for missional extension, guarding of DNA of the church and gospel, the multiplication of disciples. Then put another hat on and see it in the light of, say, evangelistic intelligence and sensibilities, and so forth.

This exercise helps people use their bases and phases without even realizing they are doing so. All elements are already resident and latent in everyone; they might have to dig to touch base with some of them, but they are there. We guarantee that the team will have better results for having adopted this approach.

For help thinking through and understanding the various hats, you may find these posts useful: 

Diagramming 5Q As The Language Of Community

APEST in the Workplace: Seeing 5Q In Everyday Spaces

Houston, We Have A Problem…Maybe?

For a Closer Look Into The Five Personalities, these might help:

The Next Wave Of Teachers Is A Game Changer

The Evangelist: Seeing The World As Library Of Lives

When Prophets Invade The Church

A Moment With The Shepherd: This Is Us

Let us know how you put today’s post into practice. Your experience will teach someone else, we promise. How is 5Q changing your thinking? We can’t wait to hear.