Six Frames by Edward de Bono

Reading Six Frames feels like reading a set of notecards. There’s a bit of text on each page, and the bits of text are arranged into chapters of related observations, but overall the content is choppy and sparse (see photos below). Since there are few pages and not much text per page, the book feels more like an essay than a book.

More below on what it’s about and photos of how sparse the text is, as well as when and why I read it.

The main idea of Six Frames

We are bombarded by information in our daily lives. We don’t always look out for the information we need, examine it all or give specific pieces of information the amount of attention or weight they deserve. This book gives you six ways of looking at the world, frames to look through, to collect, weigh, and use information more intelligently. The shapes are mnemonics.

triangle – purpose
consider where to look; where to direct the arrow of your attention

circle – accuracy
evaluate how close to the bullseye on archery target the data might be

square – point of view
remember that every issue could have different sides, like a building or table facing north/south/east/west

heart – interest
ask whether the topic speaks to you personally or emotionally and why

diamond – value
judge the importance, monetary or otherwise, of information as if it’s diamonds, gold, or jewels

rectangle – outcome
decide what the upshot is and present it on a slab or stage to yourself and others

For comparison, recall that Six Thinking Hats offers six ways to approach a new idea as a group:

  • white – facts and figures
  • black – risks and dangers
  • red – emotions and feelings
  • yellow – positive opportunities
  • green – creative ideas
  • blue – keeps the others on task

One could imagine the following correspondence:

  • white – circle – accuracy of facts
  • red – heart – emotion or personal reaction
  • yellow – diamond – value of opportunity
  • black – square – point of view
  • green – triangle – new direction
  • blue – rectangle – outcome

Equating the black hat with the square frame may seem like a bit of a stretch. However, I think the black hat can be thought of as “opposition” rather than just “negativity”, and in taking on another person’s point of view using the square frame, often we have to imagine the opposite view from our own. Also, since black hat thinking comes all too easily, we have to remember to exert effort to take on the alternative perspective—the positive perspective—and looking through the square frame helps with that.

Was it worth reading Six Frames?

Worth reading, but not worth buying, unless you like owning lots of books (as I do) and can get it cheap (as I did). Otherwise, check it out at the library. Or, you know, just stand in the library at the shelf and read the whole thing. It’s that short! (No, looking through the circle frame, it’s not. It just felt that short.)

There’s a lot of white space used to divide the chapters.
There’s a shape on EVERY page of text, not just at the beginnings of the chapters. These two pages are from the middle of the chapter on the circle frame.

When and Why I Read Six Frames

I read and loved Six Thinking Hats. This is another of the many, many “creative thinking” books by a true master of the short-but-expensive book, Edward de Bono.

Genre: fiction (YA)
Date started / date finished:  16-Dec-16 to 28-Dec-16
Length: 127 pages
ISBN: 9780091924195 (paperback)
Originally published in: 2008
Amazon link: Six Frames (kindle)