Black Hat

Black Hat Thinking explores ways that an idea may not fit the situation, problems we may need to overcome, faults, or why something may not work. During Black Hat Thinking we consider obstacles, existing or potential downsides, and concerns.

The single word that best describes the nature of the Black Hat is “caution.” If we are not cautious, we risk damage, danger, and disaster both for ourselves and for others. Black Thinking Hat protects us from harm.

Black Hat Thinking: Exploring Lack of Fit

Whenever something is suggested, we need to make sure the idea fits the circumstances. Black Hat Thinking points out things that do not fit the facts, regulations, strategy, our experience, or our values.


“Following this suggestion won’t fit recent changes in the tax laws. It’s no longer to our advantage to do it this way.”

“This proposal to change the specs for building that addition would be less costly. But it doesn’t fit the building codes.”

Black Hat Thinking: Looking at faults

The Black Hat helps us improve on an idea by drawing attention to the faults in the idea. Once we see the faults, we may be able to think of ways to overcome them. Note: We think of ways to overcome them later, when we’re using Green Hat Thinking.


“If we order these items in larger quantities to take advantage of the volume discount, we will have the expense of renting more storage space to warehouse the inventory.”

Black Hat Thinking: Scanning for Potential Problems

Black Hat Thinking can discover potential problems that might arise. Then we can either design ways to avoid the problems or be prepared to address the problems if they do come up.


“If we describe our product in detail on the website, it may be an open invitation for others to copy our design.”

Black Hat Thinking: Assessing Yellow Hat Output

Black Hat Thinking is a powerful assessment tool to use after Yellow Hat Thinking. Before an idea is put into action, we need to see if it is safe, legal, feasible, profitable, etc.


“We found a lot of benefits to this idea; now let’s black hat it.”