Yellow Hat

Yellow Hat Thinking focuses on values, benefits, or why something may work. With the Yellow Hat, we look for reasons for optimism and feasibility. We also separate the specific idea from the underlying concept.

Yellow Hat Thinking: Values and Benefits

Values are more abstract than benefits. We may sense a value in an idea and then need to look around to see how the value can be enjoyed. Benefits are more specific. Who will reap the benefits? How are the benefits going to be enjoyed?


“Could we implement this idea in such a way that it improves customer satisfaction?”

“Awarding a bonus for employees at their five-year anniversary may reduce our turn-over.”

Yellow Hat Thinking: Reasons for Optimism

In Yellow Hat Thinking, there must be reasons to support the benefits that are claimed. In Green Hat Thinking, we note possibilities even if they are vague and unlikely. With the Yellow Hat, we must have reasons why something has value or might work.


“If we include home décor along with our outdoor sporting equipment, we could attract people who don’t actually get out much, but who like to feel that they lead a healthy, active lifestyle.”

Yellow Hat Thinking: Feasibility

Can this idea be made to work? Will this idea work in practice?  We can estimate feasibility given the existing system, and we can also consider modifying either the idea or the system to increase the feasibility.


“How could we feasibly expand the public school system downward to cover children aged three and up?”

Yellow Hat Thinking: Concepts

Sometimes the idea itself is unattractive, but the concept behind the idea has great value. Any idea is only one way of carrying out a concept. There may be better ways. So we keep the concept alive and later use Green Hat Thinking to develop more feasible ways to carry it out.


“This idea is not very attractive but the underlying concept of creating an online store as well as setting up distributors has a lot of potential.”