Six Hats, Six Coats: Red Hat

In an earlier post I created a variation on this ring diagram:


I came up with the two lower levels of the ring diagram, reflex and intuition, after having given considerable thought to the Six Hats metaphor:


And the Six Rings metaphor:


I could see that these hexads revealed two levels that were rarely discussed in the context of Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom. I began to wonder how to correctly define them. After reading Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats concept and John Zachman’s Framework which both contained six perspectives (Zachman considered Mechanical and Operational out of context, but made a point of including them) I began to look at the Red Hat and the Blue Hat in a new light.

Edward de Bono called the Red Hat the “intuitive” hat. Zachman referred to it as the implementation perspective. The Blue Hat de Bono called the “process” hat, Zachman called it the “operational” perspective. The Blue Hat I call the Operational or “reflex” hat. In this post I am going to discuss the Red Hat, which I call the Mechanical or “intuition” hat.

I find that intuition is not thoroughly discussed or well understood in most of the literature. However, Zachman’s framework gave me an alternative insight. In Zachman’s implementation perspective, design is translated into formally documented goals, network configurations, data definition language, program code, personnel roles, and system schedules. In otherwords, the mechanisms which the system enforceably observes. Any operations that fall outside of the implementation are treated as exceptions and flagged for handling at higher levels. The implementation defines intuitive behavior.

Intuitive behavior in us as persons is often called habit or subconscious behavior. When we train ourselves in any way we are implementing design. The literature says that it takes roughly twenty-one days to implement any habit. Habit has a motivational, spatial, formal, functional, personal and temporal component, what I describe as the Six Coats:


When we work within the boundaries of well developed habit we experience the phenomenon called flow. Flow is the handling of events without the occurrence of exceptions to our habits. One of the commonly used examples is a rally during tennis. The two well trained players play within their intuitive boundaries for a prolonged period of time. There is little cognition regarding the return of the ball. In fact, cognition may be focused elsewhere.

Walking is another example of intuition. It is possible to perform many cognitive-physical and cognitive actions while walking. And the flow of walking is rarely broken, even when negotiating a busy sidewalk or corridor.

One aspect of intuition that hasn’t been recognized and which de Bono and Zachman lead me to consider is that intuition observes a hierarchy:


There are high level intuitions and low level intuitions. We can have intuition about our sleeping habits, which is a temporal intuition focus. We can have intuition about walking, which is primarily a functional intuition focus. We can also have intuition about formal (data), spatial (networks) and motivational (goals) focuses. The higher the intuitive focus the more training it requires. This is also where the concept of “naturals” and the “refined” comes into play.

Naturals, are individuals who seem to have an intuitive focus mastered without training. Child prodigies are an example of naturals. However, there is nothing saying that any intuitive focus cannot be be trained to a level exceeding that of a natural. In this case we have the refined performer. Considering these two extremes, we can say that intuitive people can be born or made.

The intuitive difference between genders is another issue. Women are regarded as having superior intuitive abilities. This is attributed to a greater “white matter” content in women’s brains which emphasizes associations as in languages, while men have a greater “grey matter” content which emphasizes entities as in mathematics. However, association intuition and entity intuition both have been exhibited. Also, as in naturals and the refined, intuitive talents can be both born or made across genders.

I have shown that intuition operates below the Data level where exceptions are not handled, but passed upward cognitively when outside of the intuitive flow. I have also explained how intuition observes a hierarchy giving it a dimensionality that is often overlooked. Finally, I have demonstrated that intuition is the product of both innate ability and trained habit.

All systems have an intuitive level where the day passes and few events actually register cognitively. At this time we wonder where the day went. We have come to refer to this state as “business as usual”, but it can be the time of high productivity. Continual interruption of our intuitive processes can actually be counterproductive as it takes time to restore flow, to refocus.

Intuition does have a place in the DIKW hierarchy. But it requires us to descend the hierarchy to place it rightfully at the foundation where we can perform without cognitive registration.

It’s like the dancer said, “I was a good dancer until I started to think about it.”




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