How using creative tools like Six Hat Thinking and ‘Pilotlight characters’ are helping us design support for people setting up small businesses using SDS

Six hat form being completed by hand

IRISS have delivered various methods to our group who are focusing on setting up small businesses through the use of Self Directed Support budgets.  Through the use of creative tools, such as the Six Hat Thinking* and imaginative characters, these simple techniques have created results which I believe would not have been discovered through a simple and traditional question and answer process. 

So why is it extremely important to use creative tools when thinking about setting up a small business?

New ideas are the lifeblood of every good business, large or small; it’s the idea that drives us forward. Good ideas can start from a seed of inspiration which needs to be planted and grown to produce a successful and sustainable business.  But where do you start? You will hear people from all walks of life tell you; you must have a business plan. This may sound like an incredible task or challenge when setting up a business as most people enjoy the “doing” and shy away from the planning and paperwork process. Therefore through engaging with creative tools like six hat thinking, the challenge of thinking and developing a business plan can be broken down into “bite size” tasks. By joining together people in the most unexpected ways, like six hat thinking, this begins to connect the dots in ways I never though of. A picture bigger than the first seed of thought started to emerge as the creative process allowed and supported those involved to be creative thinkers and  problem solvers.  This was achieved by focusing on six distinct directions of though. This gave a clear and “easy to use” pathway to follow, which can be used on all ages and abilities. The process can be as interactive as required. From wearing coloured hats representing each section, to creating and making the hats to wear. This can be tailored to the specific needs of the group to create a very positive and interactive workshop. 

This creative process was extremely beneficial, not only in producing a simple business plan though methodically working on the six themes, but it also offered a platform to discover ideas and possible barriers that had never been taken into account. Through the input from all team members, this creative tool allowed the host to identify pros and cons from different vantage points, which is critical when trying to set up a sustainable business. As this is an interactive and creative process, there are no right or wrong answers, just constructive questions which the host could reflect upon in a very positive and safe environment.  The methodology of the six hat thinking has turned what is so often a complicated and difficult journey into an enjoyable and easy to use process as we all head on the journey of creating a successful small business.

Carmen Gillies is the Development Officer for Social and Micro Enterprise at Moray Council

* Six Hat Thinking is a book by Edward deBono which describes a tool for group discussion involving six coloured hats. It can help groups think differently about complex issues.