Blue Data, Red Data and Black Data

In my Six Hats, Six Coats and Six Ring metaphors I have been discussing this diagram:


It can also be presented as follows:


It has been a challenge to the traditional Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom hierarchy by introducing not one, but three forms of data.  I call them Blue Data, Red Data and Black Data.

Blue Data or Reflex Data is data that affects the system, but is not necessarily captured at all. It influences a transaction, but requires techniques external to regular data capture to record. Some of the most subtle aspects of design influence this level of a transaction.  This is when a customer leaves a website because the Flash presentation takes too long to load.

Red Data or Intuitive Data is registered by the system, but does not generate any exceptions or variances. Although the data affects the bottom line it does not register in the cognitive-physical or cognitive levels of the system.  This is “business as usual” data.

Black Data or Exception Data is registered by higher levels of the system.  This is data that calls for physical-cognitive response outside the domain of normal operation.  An example would be a customer having to make two orders of nine units and one order of seven units because the system cannot capture more than nine units in one transaction.

I believe that for the Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom model to be complete it has to recognize the significance of Blue Data, Red Data and Black Data. For business to truly be successful, it not only has to ascend the DIKW hierarchy, it has to descend the hierarchy below the traditional definition of data and recognize all of data’s facets.

And what is Information, Knowledge and Wisdom, but higher forms of data?

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.”



The Size of Your Hat and Coat

In the last post I discussed the Six Rings metaphor which revealed that both the Six Hats and the Six Coats metaphors were both cognitive hierarchies. In this post I will discuss leadership or emphasis within a project or system.

First, we have the Six Hats which we can express as a Venn diagram:


We can also express the Six Coats as a Venn diagram:


These diagrams illustrate an equal emphasis on all the Hats and all the Coats. However, no system is completely balanced. An actual system might have a Six Hats Venn diagram like the following:


In this example the emphasis is predominantly on the Blue Hat, Operational.

An actual system may also have a Six Coats Venn diagram as follows:


In this example it is the Black Coat, Functional that has emphasis.

Putting the Hat and Coat together we can say that the emphasis of the system or leadership of the project or business is Blue Hat, Black Coat or Operational/Functional. Here’s a Mix Thirty-Six diagram of the emphasis:


You can see that the Blue Hat row and the Black Coat column are larger.  If this were a computing project we could say that the operational perspective and functional focus are leading the effort. We are likely to get an effective transaction system at the expense of everything else. We hope that that is what the other systems that interact with ours will want.

This is a very simple example, but by analyzing the Mix Thirty-Six of external and internal systems we can realize beneficial systems. And everything is ultimately a system within its own right.

Six Rings

In my last post I revealed a ring metaphor that positioned Transaction, Intuition, Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom. Now that we have made the transition with a majority of the concepts from tetrads to hexads, we can now explore how the Six Hats, Six Coats metaphor can be shifted into the Six Rings metaphor. First, lets call up the Six Hats for review:


As I discussed earlier, Conceptual is the Creative perspective, Contextual is the Compatibility perspective, Logical is the Reliability perspective, Physical is the Economy perspective, Mechanical is the Intuitability perspective and Operational is the Convenience perspective.

And now let’s take this metaphor and shift it into the Six Rings metaphor:


As you can see I have given Creativity the highest order and Convenience the lowest.

With that done, let’s take another look at the Six Coats metaphor:


Motivational is the Goal focus.  Spatial is the Network focus.  Formal is the Data focus.  Functional is the Process focus.  Personal is the People focus.  Temporal is the Time focus.

Now let’s take the Six Coats metaphor and shift it to the Six Rings metaphor:


In the Six Rings metaphor I give Goals the highest order and Time the lowest order.

As you can see in these representations of the Six Hats and Six Coats as rings, there are other implications when we look at the Mix Thirty-Six:


When we look at the Mix Thirty-Six the Blue Hat, Blue Coat requires the least cognitive effort, while the Green Hat, Green Coat requires the greatest. However, the Mix Thirty-Six describes a team and a network. Leadership and communication can follow different emphases and paths between Green Hat, Green Coat and Blue Hat, Blue Coat. And the best Green Hat, Green Coat and the best Blue Hat, Blue Coat has worn the entire Mix Thirty-Six. We will explore this more in future posts by introducing additional metaphors.

Further reading: Six Hats, Six Coats , Mix Thirty-Six and TIDIKW

Mix Thirty-six


The Six Hats, Six Coats metaphor allows you to manage your Perspectives and Focuses for any project. In fact, it allows you to pose thirty-six questions that can make or break a system. In this post I am going to translate the Six Hats and Six Coats into those questions. So, hang on, we’re going to eat the whole enchilada.

1. Conceptual
1.1 Motivational: What goals are available to achieve?
1.2 Spatial: What networks are available to support?
1.3 Formal: What data are available to verify?
1.4 Functional: What processes are available to perform?
1.5 Personal: What people are available to serve?
1.6 Temporal: What schedules are available to meet?

2. Contextual
2.1 Motivational: What goals are we compatible with achieving?
2.2 Spatial: What networks are we compatible with supporting?
2.3 Formal: What data are we compatible with verifying?
2.4 Functional: What processes are we compatible with performing?
2.5 Personal: What people are we compatible with serving?
2.6 Temporal: What schedules are we compatible with meeting?

3. Logical
3.1 Motivational: What goals can we reliably achieve?
3.2 Spatial: What networks can we reliably support?
3.3 Formal: What data can we reliably verify?
3.4 Functional: What processes can we reliably perform?
3.6 Personal: What people can we reliably serve?
3.7 Temporal: What schedules can we reliably meet?

4. Physical
4.1 Motivational: What goals can we economically achieve?
4.2 Spatial: What networks can we economically support?
4.3 Formal: What data can we economically verify?
4.4 Functional: What processes can we economically perform?
4.5 Personal: What people can we economically serve?
4.6 Temporal: What schedules can we economically meet?

5. Mechanical
5.1 Motivational: What goals can we intuitively achieve?
5.2 Spatial: What networks can we intuitively support?
5.3 Formal: What data can we intuitively verify?
5.4 Functional: What processes can we intuitively perform?
5.5 Personal: What people can we intuitively serve?
5.6 Temporal: What schedules can we intuitively meet?

6. Operational
6.1 Motivational: What goals can we actually achieve?
6.2 Spatial: What networks can we actually support?
6.3 Formal: What data can we actually verify?
6.4 Functional: What processes can we actually perform?
6.5 Personal: What people can we actually serve?
6.6 Temporal: What schedules can we actually meet?

So, there you have it. Thirty six questions to lead you through the life of a project. As I pointed out in Good Design, your emphasis will probably vary based on how these Focuses interplay as will your Perspectives. However, an complete oversight in any of these Focuses or Perspectives will most likely result in failure or diminished gains. Of course there are many more or even fewer questions you can ask, but I have found this batch to be a healthy standard.

Six Hats, Six Coats


Edward de Bono’s concept of Six Hats on the surface looks creative, but in implementation it falls short. de Bono’s six hats are:

  1. Data (white)
  2. Emotion (red)
  3. Pessimism (black)
  4. Optimism (yellow)
  5. Creativity (green)
  6. Process (blue)

I do not disagree with these six hats. I tip my hat to de Bono. However, I feel that de Bono made a few mistakes. I am going to coin my own Six Hats:


The Conceptual hat is Creativity. The Contextual hat is Compatibility. The Logical hat is Reliability. The Physical hat is Economy. The Mechanical hat is Intuitivity. The Operational hat is Actuality. These are your six Perspectives.

Now, here is where I extend de Bono’s concept. This extension I call the Six Coats:


The Motivational coat is Goals. The Spatial coat is Networks. The Formal coat is Data. The Functional coat is Processes. The Personal coat is People. The Temporal coat is Time. These coats are your six Focuses.

Together, you take your hats and coats and wear them in a set order to get a project done. You start at the top and proceed left to right, row by row, to the bottom. This takes a chaos of perspectives and focuses and turns them into a methodology:


You may notice that the colors of the hats and coats complement each other. This is intentional:

  1. Green = Creatable = Goals = “Because we’re capable.”
  2. Yellow = Compatible = Network = “Because we’re portable.”
  3. White = Reliable = Data = “Because we’re reliable.”
  4. Black = Economical = Process = “Because we’re economical.”
  5. Red = Intuitable = People = “Because we’re intuitable.”
  6. Blue = Actual = Time = “Because we’re available.”

If you follow my blog you will see that my definitions are evolving. This is to be expected as I am learning between and during every post. I hope you enjoy the process with me.

To see a more recent version of the Six Hats, Six Coats model Click Here. 

Systems versus Humans

In my previous post I discussed art and design in the context of communication. Now I want to reveal a correlation that came up between the work of John Zachman and Abraham Maslow. I believe it reveals that computer systems and human systems respectively obey the same basic principles.Here is the Zachman model:


Here is the Maslow Model:


As you can see both frameworks share a similar hierarchy. It is my assertion that they are the same.