Field Hockey Rules. Six Thinking Hats.
I had heard of Edward de Bono and his invention of the term ‘lateral thinking’ for a method of thinking he promoted, a method which is sometimes called ‘thinking outside the box, but I had not investigated the concept. On doing so I found reference to a parallel thinking strategy de Bono outlines in a book called Six Thinking Hats. De Bono first published this idea in 1985 so (unable to resist the pun) it may be ‘old hat’ to many people. It is, however, new to me and I regret not having found it before now. I find the method is similar to what I have been trying to achieve (but using argument and ‘logic’). I have thrashed around blaming this or that group – usually the FIH Rules Committee (for poorly written Rules), the FIH Umpiring Committee (for the UBM and umpire coaching), individual umpires (for inventive ’interpretations’) and players (for being apathetic). Not surprisingly I am not well loved but Cogito ergo sum.*
De Bono points out that people who are supposedly working together for a common purpose do not need to base their thinking to resolve problems or make changes in the way in which things are done, on argument of the sort where one person (or group) claims to be right and therefore those that disagree with that person (or group) must be wrong.
In that sort of conflict beliefs get stated on ‘both sides’ at an early stage, often before there is any discussion at all, and then having stated a belief neither side is willing to ‘lose face’ by giving any credence to the views of the other. Such arguments beget personal animosity, often to the point that anything the despised person (or group) proposes will be automatically dismissed just because it was them that suggested it (exactly the same suggestion from an ‘acceptable’ individual would be seriously considered and even applauded).
In the adversarial legal system a prosecutor who sees a good argument that the defending advocate could make to help his client, will certainly not advise his ‘opponent’ of it if he is not obliged (by Discovery Rules) to do so (that why there are Rules of Discovery). Yet the prosecutor, acting on behalf of the State or the Crown, should not be interested just in ‘winning’ but in justice. Those discussing the Rules of Hockey and the way they affect the way the game is played should not be working to a personal agenda – what could that agenda be? – but for the enhancement of the enjoyment of the game for all involved. We are not any of us adversaries when what is wanted is a fair outcome for players.
De Bono presents Six Hat Thinking in a group meeting situation, the idea being that the members of the group ‘bounce’ ideas of each other in an unrestricted and for some, unusual way – the ‘stick-in-the mud’ gets to be creative, the ‘air-head’ has to think of practicalities – because all in turn must look at things from the perspective of the others and even from viewpoints that would not normally examined by the group e.g. creativity (The more usual mode is for someone to make a suggestion for change and then, unless the idea is from the boss, expect ‘rocks’ to be thrown, not other ideas to spring from the initial suggestion) . This way of thinking is just as easy for the individual in isolation, it can be attempted in a sequential way by an individual and will possibly be more productive. The group is then needed to see or discover avenues that the individual has overlooked. I doubt it would work on an Internet forum for five reasons. With a group there needs to be a time limit of some sort (a disadvantage the individual does not suffer), all participants need to contribute in all six modes (some won’t) and there will usually be too many participants on an Internet forum to make such ‘discussion’ manageable, there usually has to be a conclusion and an agreement for action (or non-action), participants would have to be treated as equals or at least as people whose opinions were as valid as that of any other participant.
The six hats are coloured as follows which each colour indicating a role and an group of attitudes. I have given a very brief indication of each role. The ‘hats’ are a symbol and a marker, stick flags could be used just as well, held in the hand of the speaker or put in a holder in front of each participant.
Any area of play is suitable for consideration, for example Dangerous Play or the Penalty Corner, but both of these are subjects that can be broken down into a large number of smaller topics. Ball body contact is a complicated area, which includes things like (the deleted)’gains benefit’ - a topic in itself – but it is probably manageable as one topic when people have gained some experience in Six Hat Thinking. There are a large number of topics that are reasonably self-contained and could provide practice and give insights in the use of the system to a discussion group before they tackled larger topics; ‘back-sticks’ for example, should it be abolished? Another: Could the height of the goal be reduced and the width increased? Is there an alternative to the corner restart when the ball is played over the back-line off a defender? Should intentional raising of the ball with a hit be an offence when done other than when shooting at the opponent’s goal from within the circle? There are many such questions. We can have the type of person who could be characterized as a mix of Black Hat, White Hat and Red Hat, completely uncompromising regarding change to a particular aspect of the Rules asked to give Green or Yellow Hat thinking on a suggested change to that aspect. Someone who is normally a Green Hat thinker and like all who have ideas, is Yellow Hat or Red Hat in promoting it, will be obliged to consider objections to change. Black Hat thinking - practical reasons. There is also a need to understand the reasons for strong feelings Red Hat thinking – for or against – even if the people who have such convictions are not able to articulate them well. It is only by taking belief seriously that an attempt can be made to change it.
In other work de Bono points out that people only begin to think about any aspect of what they are in the habit of doing and are comfortable with, when ‘a problem’ arises. A change in playing tactics for example may throw up such a problem. The introduction and development of the drag-flick is a good example, edge hitting another, the increased use of aerial ball a third. How have these changes been responded to by the FIH and by umpires? Why did they respond (or not respond) in that way? But, he points out, many people go along in a complacent doze unless actually confronted with a specific ‘problem’. They get into the habit of making a particular response to particular incidents and do not make any effort to improve the application of anything that is ‘working’, not seen as ’a problem’. ” It’s not broken, why fix it?” is a common attitude, even when things are thought by some to be ‘broken’ (if otherwise how does the question arise?). In this way if there are no ‘problems’ (or none acknowledged once any change has become ‘usual’). Nothing at all is done to improve the game unless it is to solve ‘a problem’.
‘Solving a problem’ is often achieved by just removing it (forcing as an offence,) or ignoring it (ball shielding obstruction, dangerous shots at goal, legitimate evasive action) even removal by deletion can be just ignored (e.g. the gains benefit exception). ‘Problems’ with Rules are not usually solved by additions to the Rule (for example the addition to the Obstruction Rule made in 2009) if ‘a problem’ was not generally recognized before the change.
I suggested the Self-Pass and the Direct Lift from a Free-ball about thirteen years ago. I expected the Direct Lift to be accepted and introduced quite quickly because we had the obviously dangerous ‘tap and scoop’, with two players over the ball when a free was awarded and (an ignored) 1m Rule. The introduction of the Direct lift was only ’common sense’ and any discussion group considering aspects of dangerous play would have come up with it very quickly as a solution to an obvious ‘problem’ (and seen that a Direct Lift should not be made into the opponent’s circle). The idea of the Self Pass was ‘sparked’ by my thinking of a solution to the tap and scoop and the 1m Rule - it was lateral thinking – both the tap and scoop and the team-pass from Free required a minimum of two people and it was also quite easy for defenders to isolate a player awarded a Free-ball some distance up-field from support. (By the time support was given any advantage to the Free was usually lost). The introduction of the Self Pass by the EHL and its subsequent acceptance into Full FIH Rule was a surprise to me (I have no idea who was responsible for it). Unfortunately when it was introduced into FIH Rules the FIH RC also introduced a ban on the direct playing of a Free awarded in the opponents 23m area into the opponent’s circle and (because they then had to) required a self-passer to move the ball 5m before the ball could be played into the circle. That led to an interpretation (which was pure invention) during the mandatory experimental period, that declared that the opponents of a self-passer who had taken a self-pass before the opponents had had opportunity to retreat 5m, could not interfere with the playing of the ball or influence the direction in which the self-passer moved until the ball had been moved 5m. So the FIH RC, with the restriction on the Free-ball (which was then no longer free) and whoever came up with that Self Pass ’interpretation’ back in 2008, completely ‘buggered up’ the Self-Pass, by making it wholly unfair to the defending side and by also making it extraordinarily difficult to umpire correctly – far more difficult than it need be.
The reason for this situation in the Self-Pass is a lack of what is sometimes called joined-up thinking (akin in my mind to having the pieces of a ‘jig-saw’ puzzle make a single complete picture) . The introduction of the restriction on the Free awarded in the opponents 23m area was probably devised and approved in complete isolation from the conduct of the Self-Pass experiment. Umpires had then to make the best of the introduction of these two new Rules ’on the hoof’ and, not surprisingly in the circumstances, they have come up with an interpretation that not only made life difficult and doesn’t ‘fit’, it is now difficult to make changes because of the way the interpretation was introduced. The FIH RC, the body who are supposed to write the Rules of Hockey had nothing at all to do with it the ‘interpretation’ of the early taken Self Pass. Would Six Hat Thinking have avoided this situation? Probably.
* Cogito ergo sum is frequently translated as the well known I think, therefore I am but the word Cogito is derived from the prefix co (with or together) and the verb agitare (to shake). Agitare is the root of the English words agitate and agitation. Cogito means to shake together. Cogito ergo sum also translates as I shake things up, therefore I am. With apologies to Rene Descartes, that makes more sense to me than the more abstruse ’Catch 22′ style translation I think, therefore I exist - Do things that do not think not exist?
Links to Rule Index. http://wp.me/p3tNmd-3.