I’ve been thinking a lot about hats recently. What did I do to mark my first successful meeting as a freelancer, with a potential client? I bought a “social marketing lady” hat. And I’ve worn it since whenever I’ve wanted to give myself a professional boost.
Last month I facilitated a workshop for the Institute of Development Studies where researchers and practitioners in international development, from various countries gathered to discuss what could change development. And I gave them all three little hats. They were told to label their hats with the three viewpoints they could (only) speak from with legitimacy during the subsequent discussion. It transformed the quality of the debate.
Examining the hats we wear (our “labels” – occupational, social, cultural, geographical), etc. and what our viewpoint is when we respond to an idea while wearing one of those hats, is a theme that’s continue to buzz in my head. I’m reading ‘Herd’ by Mark Earls about changing behaviour through understanding that we are instinctively social animals and do what other people do (parents, friends, peers, neighbours). And that makes me wonder whether some of the hats I wear are ones I keep hold of because they connect me with others.
And I wonder whether (with my former union rep hat on), along the lines of DeBono’s Thinking Hats, if deliberately wearing an unfamiliar hat and talking through that for a change, could help negotiation meetings be a little less fraught. For example, the union representative arguing the management case, during a discussion of changes to pay, and vice versa.
I’m up for trying other people’s hats. As long as they go with my shoes of course.