Week 8: Development and Discussion

This week we will see the first iteration of your projects. Use the first hour to set up your work in the DCM Gallery/ Blackboxes. We will then spend some time discussing project development and ideas based in part on the proposal developed in week 6. We will introduce the 6 Hats framework of creative critique and auditing and look at some project management techniques.

The subsequent workshop hours will be consultation and development time – you are to work on integrating the feedback and advice you received from your classmates in the first hour and re-work your install to present in the subsequent week.

Sometimes thinking about our own projects critically and creatively – while still ensuring we are progressing – can be a tough ask. Some of us become defensive in the face of critique, or get carried away with the wild ideas, or are relentlessly critical of our our own work. A strategic (and perhaps disciplined approach to thinking – can be liberating.

Here we will talk about just one such strategy – but there are many- and I’m not espousing one over another or making any special claims for this one. Use what works for you and adapt the approach to your own way of working.

The Six Hat’s Approach

Edward deBono is a popular writer and thinker who has been very successful in commercialising his strategies for thinking. He apparently coined the term ‘lateral thinking’ (really?) and his approach in his 1985 book ‘Six Thinking Hats’ might be called something like and a deliberate approach to thought – thinking as a  series of organised tasks.

This is obviously a different type of thought to that which we discussed when looking at theory and research (the difference is interesting in itself) – here we are engaged in a very instrumental thought that is about getting a job done as much as it is about coming up with ideas.

At the core of this approach is the identification of 6 different modes of thought – and along with that a notion that some of these modes of thought can be forgotten or overridden by those modes that are easier to deploy or habitually dominant.  This strategy is about bringing some balance to the critical thought we apply to our projects.

deBono breaks suggests we engage each of these modes of thought deliberately and in an organised fashion. To do so he suggests we don one of six coloured hats at a time (hopefully metaphorically) to think about  our projects;

The six modes and corresponding hats are:

Blue: Management of the Hats and when to wear them and how long they should be worn. The equivalent of the meeting chairperson.

Mat’s Note: Its important that everyone understands how the hat wearing process will proceed, that its ordered and administered according to agreed strategies before we start. The blue hat is disciplinary – it stops ‘hat swapping’ – if working in a group one person should wear this hat. If working alone this hat might involve diagramming the process and establishing rules ahead of time (how much time/space) will be spent on each hat.

White: Information, research, facts, no opinions/neutral.

Mat’s Note: What information do we have and what information do we lack? What things/knowledge/skills do we need, who is going to get that information, when and where will it be documented. What time frames are we held to? What specifications or directives do we need to meet.

Red: Feels. This is the hat from which to voice intuition, feelings, emotions, ‘I (dis)like that’ – and without justification. Be careful not to slip from emotion to criticism.

Mat’s Note:  This gives a place and value to emotional intelligence and intuition and ensures it doesn’t get justified by some other hat. I’m allowed to just like it without justifying it and to identify why I like it without rationalising my emotion: ‘I like the old timey font’ doesn’t become ‘because serif fonts are easier to read’. This mode or hat should be given power within the decision making process – it should not be dismissed in lieu of the modes. Note that if we place it first it feels like we are ‘getting it out of the way’ but of place it last it run’s the risk of over-riding other modes – be aware of this tendency.

Yellow: Positive thinking, what is working, what is good about a project and why.

Mat’s note: A hat that most of generally forget to wear – particularly black hat critical thinkers. It can be just as powerful to think through the positives of your project. What are the good aspects of your project and idea. Identifying them might lead you to shifting in order to focus and develop them specifically. These are good things that are there evident in your project already. Avoid ascribing future developments to the yellow hat.This is about demonstrated potential not speculated potential.

Green: Creative thinking. How could we develop/change, identify and mine opportunities Lateral thought and extension of project.

Mat’s note: This is for the dreamers and the imagineers. Some of us will get completely absorbed by this mode of thought with an often happy habit of losing focus. Others will see only the positives in their project and forget that mining potential is a part of why we create. This hat apportions time to this mode of thought – how could this project be different to what it is? what other directions could we take with it? It also allows you to think laterally without being shot down because ‘we aren’t doing that’ or ‘we don’t have time/resources for that’.

Black: Criticism, Evaluation, Logic, Caution

Mats Note: This hat tends to be overused and we should be careful that it doesn’t creep back in while other hats are being worn. It is particularly dangerous when we swap from Red to Black and we should watch for this tendency in thought…. to like or not not like something and then attempt to give rationalise that feeling as critique or the basis for selection. It might be worth saving this hat for the end of the process once we’ve given the other hats their due consideration or it might be worth getting out of the way. Use it to identify potential problems that might stand in the way of a successful project. Having a time to wear the black hat can also provide a license to raise critical positions without fear or favour.

Applying It.

Present your proposal and project development in small groups using the six hats to critique and explore the project. Make sure you record the process and note down the ideas, criticisms, and feelings evoked by the project.


Project Management approach

Goals, Milestones, Obstacles & Mitigations, Tasks.

  • A well defined goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART -urgh).
  • Milestones break down your goals according to steps with dates. We work backward form our goal to ensure we understand and apportion time appropriately
  • Tasks these are the direct steps needed to achieve milestones.
  • Obstacles reflect on your tasks (and milestones) individually – what obstacles might stop you from achieving them. Turn them into tasks and account for these obstacles.

Remember the rules of agile/lean management (otherwise known as iterative development) apply this ongoing process to ensure your tasks are being met on a day by day, week by week basis. Make sure your Tasks are structured using this mode of development. There are increasing numbers of versions of this methodology – the software version is to deploy early and often, this development into a management paradigm that looks something lime: (discover/design (what), design/deploy (how), measure/test/analyse), but really I think its what artists/craftspeople and creative types always did: Act – Observe – Act (differently). Regardless of how you deploy it make sure that each task involves an action and returns an observation that will inform the project moving forward.



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