August 18 2011
All opinions are valid, but not all opinions are correct, particularly if they’re based on incomplete thought.
Lately, this is what I’ve been thinking about as our national media de-camps into political ideology which itself mirrors our politics. We’re in a period of time in which demagoguery has dangerously replaced the usual rhetoric.
It defies my comprehension how our political landscape has devolved to the point where winners and losers are assigned based on who gave what in the national debt negotiations. The net result is nobody wins and everybody loses, especially tax-paying Americans who have to suffer the fools that are our elected officials. Even more egregious, I fear we’re inured to this finger-pointing blame game as a new reality.
A respite for most people, the wine world isn’t immune to bickering partisanship. Consider: Critics. Points scoring. Parker. Biodynamics. Corporate wine. New World vs. Old World. Technology. Oaked Chardonnay. The three-tier system…
The wine world is no better than the national political conversation when it comes to taking sides and discarding rationale thought. On wine issues, opinion acts as an article of faith, facts be damned.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Recently, this site was named the most influential wine blog out of 3,000 drinks-related blogs. In spite of this, I don’t carry a burden of responsibility to use that supposed influence in any particular way. However, if I could do one thing in creating influence (of the outwardly positive sort) it would be this: Urge all wine enthusiasts engaged in wine conversation online or offline to be empathetic and look at a situation and an opinion (that may be counter to your own) from 360 degrees. Doing so doesn’t always lead to answers, but it does lead to pragmatic enlightenment.
And, we need more enlightened people (to say nothing of pragmatism). Somewhere along the road of “social” associating itself with “media,” people, regular people, have subsumed the bad habits of traditional media and our elected officials and forgotten the most fundamental rules of the human condition: “Treat others as you would have them treat you” and “Before judging a man, walk a mile in his shoes.”
Even worse, for all of the benefit that interactivity and social media has wrought for “conversation” and “dialogue” and the exchange of ideas, a whole lot of nothing has ever reached concurrence.
Can it be that social media might be good for citizen uprisings with attendant violence, but poor for aligned progress? Does ease of communication inspire our more savage instincts? God, the early returns aren’t great. Yet, what’s the point of the exchange of ideas and information if it’s not to come to a place of mutual understanding?
Instead, too often it seems, we’re all stuck in the mud and Exhibit A would be the recent online wine points score debate that is the same debate that has been going on in the same material fashion for the last decade. Yawn. Wake me when somebody comes up with something better. Then, there’s a real conversation to be had.
While my own naïve idealism isn’t enough to create a ripple in the pond, there are frameworks of change that can be adopted, even if incrementally.
Six Thinking Hats is as simple as it is beautiful and it offsets the fact that as we’ve perverted the Socratic method of thinking by combining its opposing viewpoint debate with feelings and emotions, losing dimensional thinking that leads to logical conclusions.
The Six Thinking Hats seeks to provide a holistic method of analyzing a situation or a problem. Where our current thought process is typically duotone, the Six Thinking Hats is a full color picture.
Think of a recent meeting at work. You were discussing a topic of some importance or consequence in outcome. Chances are good it was a mud puddle of confusion amongst varying viewpoints that went in circles for an hour before you adjourned with a weak-kneed action item. Or worse, interpersonal dynamics had the outcome yielding to the dominant ego in the room.
It’s hardly a recipe for success. And, it’s repeated millions of times daily in the exchange of information on a subject.
Yet, the Six Thinking Hats is not about who is right or who is wrong, it’s about the way forward. Instead of rewarding ego, the Six Thinking Hats rewards profundity of well-rounded thought – it requires an individual to look at all sides of an issue, moving away from habitual thinking styles that can run narrow and linear.
Represented by the metaphor of six differently colored hats, each hat represents a different aspect of thinking that can (and should) be used in the exchange of ideas to come to an essential truth. In a group setting, a group would each symbolically assume the role of one hat color at a time to examine an issue to agreement.
The hats are:
White hat: Facts and information. With this hat, the focus is on what is known and what is available to be known.
Red hat: Emotion, judgments, intuition. Gut reactions. With this hat, the focus is on instincts.
Black hat: Caution, faults, problems, issues. This hat focuses on why something might not work.
Yellow hat: Optimism, positivity, benefits and constructive. This hat focuses on the value and benefit of a decision.
Green hat: Creative, out-of-the-box and crazy alternatives. This hat focuses on innovative ideas.
Blue hat: Guiding, facilitating and managing the process. This hat acts as a calibrator for thinking about thinking.
As you can see, most people tend to skew towards one or two hats, but not all of the hats in totality. However, what a difference a conversation might be if a group of people were committed to looking at a subject with all six hats.
Perhaps Biodynamics wouldn’t be considered voodoo to a percentage of the population. Parker wouldn’t be a bogeyman. Corporate wine wouldn’t be a scourge… A level of common ground could be found in conversation amongst differing viewpoints…
I don’t presume that everybody is going to download the PDF linked below and really absorb the notion of the Six Thinking Hats, particularly in the realm of wine issues, but in the future I will be creating a thinking hat outline for topical issues that seem to be particularly rancorous in the online wine discussion – if for no other reason than to save us from ourselves on the next go around of debate about the 100-point system.
As a final thought, it should be noted that Six Hats Thinking is taught to pre-school and kindergarten students as a thinking tool-set for their pliable minds. Perhaps the kindergartener in all of us that plinks on the keyboard should pay heed to what four and five year olds can comprehend.