Attention is a very key part of thinking.
Yet we pay very little attention to attention itself.
It is assumed that it just happens.
Attention can be pulled or attracted to something unusual.
If you saw someone lying in the road, your attention would go to that person.
If you saw a bright pink dog, your attention, and your sympathy, would go to that dog.
That is precisely the weakness of attention.
It is pulled to the unusual.
How much attention do we pay to the usual?
Perception is a key part of thinking.
Research by David Perkins at Harvard has shown that ninety per cent of errors of thinking were errors of perception.
No amount of excellent logic will make up for errors of perception.
Goedel’s theorem shows that from within a situation no amount of logic can prove the starting points, which remain arbitrary perceptions.
Attention is a key element of perception.
Without the ability to direct attention, we see only the familiar patterns.
The big enemy of good thinking is confusion.
Unfortunately, the more active the mind, the greater the risk of confusion.
The aim of all good thinking is clarity.
But clarity is no good if it is at the expense of comprehensiveness.
To be very clear about a tiny part of the situation is no good at all and even dangerous.
There is a need to obtain clarity and comprehensiveness at the same time.
The main cause of confusion is trying to do everything at once.
When the mind tries to do everything at once, the mind ends up doing one thing thoroughly and other things hardly at all.
That is why my Six Thinking Hats is such a powerful framework.
In a discussion, if we try to do everything at once we end up in the negative and critical mode because this is the easiest mode and the one we use most often.
The Six Hats is now very widely used, even at top economic meetings, because it ensures a thorough exploration of the subject and a discussion that is constructive.
We live in an information age.
We are bombarded by information and we have easy access to as much information as we need—in fact much more than we need.
How do we react to that information?
If you have a very specific need for information and a very specific question that needs an answer, then you go to the right place and get the answer.
If you need to find a flight from London to Paris that leaves London as soon as possible after six in the evening, you go to an airline timetable or ask your travel agent.
There is still some thinking to be done regarding your choice of airport and airline.
The traffic on the road to Heathrow is likely to be very heavy at that time.
If we only dealt with information that we really needed, life would be simpler but very limited and very dull.
We also need to react to the information that we come across on television and radio and in newspapers, magazines and other people’s conversations.
How do we react to that information?
There are many important aspects of information, such as accuracy, bias, interest, relevance, value, etc. We could seek to assess these different aspects all at once.
We could also separate them out to avoid confusion and to make sure that we cover all the different ways of looking at the information.
That is what Six Frames For Thinking about Information seeks to do.
We look through one frame at a time.
How accurate is this information?
What bias is there in the information?
The Six Frames are laid out in this book.
You can get into the habit of using the frames yourself.
You can deliberately direct your attention to one or other frame.
You can ask someone else to use a particular frame: ‘Try the Square Frame on this.
What do you see?’
The frames can also be used in a discussion where everyone adopts the same frame at a given moment.
If you ask someone to go out into the garden and look at all the colours, that person is likely to notice the dominant colours—red in roses, yellow in daffodils, etc.—but may not notice colours that are less obvious.
If you asked the same person to go out and look for the colour blue, and then the colour red and then the colour yellow, the attention scan would be much more comprehensive.
Having frames for thinking about information means that with each frame the mind is prepared and sensitised to notice different things.
We can pay attention to the accuracy of the information.
We can pay attention to the point of view expressed in the information.
We can pay attention to the interest in the information.
Each frame prepares the mind to look at the information in a specific way.
We see what we are prepared to see.
The Six Frames described in this book provide a simple tool for experiencing and looking at information.
There is an unexpected outcome when the Six Thinking Hats are used.
The framework might seem to complicate discussions and make them much longer.
In fact, use of the Hats reduces meeting time to a quarter or even a tenth.
In the same way, the Six Frames greatly simplify the way we look at information instead of complicating it.
Doing one thing at a time is simpler than trying to do many things and worrying that we might be leaving out something important.
As you read through this book, keep the image of each frame clearly in mind.
This image becomes the trigger symbol for each of the six ways we need to think about information.
At times we may choose to focus on one way of thinking about information rather than another.
That now becomes a deliberate choice.
By separating out the different ways of thinking about information and by symbolising these different ways as frames of various shapes, we take control of the way our mind performs.
We can now direct our attention more deliberately rather than letting it wander in its own confused way.
We know that perception is the most important part of thinking.
So the way we perceive information is all-important.