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Developing ideas with black hat reversal

by Martyn Green on July 8, 2011

When planning your intranet you are trying to understand what works for your audience. However, have you considered what could go wrong?

One concept that considers worst case scenarios is black hat thinking. The purpose behind this exercise is that it helps you to identify what can possibly go wrong in your project and consider problems in advance. By pre-empting these potential problems you can consider contingency plans to overcome them.

The idea behind black hat reversal comes from a concept which was developed by Edward De Bono’s theory of the six thinking hats, one of them being black hat thinking. De Bono recognised the tendency for people to focus on the negative aspects of a situation.

The way that black hat reversal works is to firstly look at a situation, think of the absolute worst thing that can happen then turn it around and look for possible solutions.

Black hat reversal can be done as a group activity as part of requirements gathering. A possible scenario could be accessing contact information. The worst situation could be that information is locked away and impossible to find. Participants will then turn this around by looking at how they could make access to contact information easier. Having identified what could go wrong, they can consider possible solutions to the problem.

Black hat reversal helps you identify possible obstacles to your project. If these are recognised in advance you can put contingency plans in place. You are then prepared for any potential problems should they arise.

Topics: 2. Plan

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