I wear a black hat

I'm working amidst clutter
I’m working amidst clutter

I set up the laptop on the end of our dining room table. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. I don’t have room in our office to set it up. When Cindy decides to do her work in the dining room as well, it really gets messy. I’ve decided to do more on the laptop even though I prefer our desktop PC. I know the PC will die someday…probably sooner rather than later, I think it is good that I start feeling more at ease with the laptop. I try to be progressive, but don’t ask me to use a tablet!


I am in a foul mood today. If your day is sunny and warm, stop reading. If you look out of your window and see rainbows and unicorns, don’t look here. I can’t guarantee that I won’t bring you down. I don’t want to burden you with the things that are bothering me. Today just about everything seems to be a dark cloud with NO silver lining, so I’ll deflect into something that won’t bring my blood to a quick boil.

When I worked for the State, our agency was always trying out the latest management fad. I remember sitting through training sessions on The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, The One Minute Manager, The Myers Briggs Personality Test (and how to use it as a tool in the office), and Six Thinking Hats. Our agency, in each case, decreed that we would be trained in the use of these tools, and that we would use them to make a better agency.

Half-hearted attempts would be made to implement and use the techniques for a period of time. The time period was usually long enough to get us past the next statewide manager’s meeting, where each manager would enthusiastically report on how well things worked, and then it would be quietly dropped. A few months later another fad would be discovered and another period of training, implementation, and reporting would occur. And so it went.

Generally speaking, the usefulness of these methods was proportional to how much attention the managers and supervisors paid in the training session, and how willing they were to change. Our managers hated change, so they seldom understood the concepts involved. Take the Six Thinking Hats as an example.

As I understand the process there are six ways that a person, or a group, can think to work on a problem or to develop a strategy. Each of these ways to think is assigned a different colored hat. Blue is for managing or determining what needs to be addressed and setting parameters. White is for information or determining the facts. Red is for instincts, or gut reactions. Black is for discernment or identifying reasons to be cautious. Yellow is optimistic or identifying benefits and seeking harmony. Green is creativity or statements of provocation.

When bringing this technique to bear on a problem each hat is supposed to be used. In this way a balanced approach will lead to a better informed decision. That is the theory as I understand it. Somewhere, out in the world, it may be  a useful technique. Not where I worked. As in all things, management used this process not so much to solve problems, but to use it a few times and then report success to the administrative office. The staff, who got even less training and who often viewed these fads with skepticism, couldn’t break out of their normal internal problem solving methods long enough to try thinking in a more balanced way. I understand. I have that problem. I wear a black hat.

Or at least that is the way I have been labelled by my wife. According to Cindy, I only see the negatives. That is her shorthand for discernment. I prefer to think of myself as often wearing the Blue, White, Red, Black and Yellow hats simultaneously. OK, maybe not so much the Yellow. I can occasionally wear the Green hat, but it isn’t my strong suit (or hat).

Still, I get tired of being labelled black hat because I try to see the entirety of a situation rather than just playing with the bunnies. I like playing with the bunnies also. But I keep my eyes peeled looking for the cat that is sneaking up on them.

That isn’t why I’m in a foul mood today, but I feel a tad better getting that off of my chest.