A White Hat Marine Survey is inspired by the book ‘Six Thinking Hats: An Essential Approach to Business Management’, by Edward de Bono published in 1985, which sought to optimise the thinking process within groups of people working in a collaborative endeavour. The underlying premise is that the brain can be challenged to think in one of six distinct directions and that by putting on one of six coloured hats in a metaphorical sense can help individuals within groups think to the benefit of all. By focussing the minds of participants into a specific way of thinking (represented by the six coloured hats) at the same time, de Bono believed that this was key to achieving cohesive and effective problem analysis and decision making.

Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono inspired the White Marine Survey Approach

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The Six Thinking Hats with their associated priorities were as follows:

The Blue Hat deals with Process, managing the thinking process.
The Red Hat deals in Feelings, intuition and hunches.
The Black Hat is Cautious, identifying risks, dangers and weakness.
The Yellow Hat looks at Benefits, identifying the positives.
The Green Hat gets Creative looking at alternatives and possibilities.

The White Hat deals in Facts to identify what is known, what needs to be known and where do we go to find the information that is needed.

De Bono went on to identify the optimal order in which to wear the hats whilst engaged in tackling various generic business activities such as Initial Ideas, Strategic Planning or Solving problems. The Hats would be ‘worn’ by all members of the group in a specific order depending on the task at hand.

In a marine surveying context the White Hat Marine Survey approach is to identify all of the facts needed to come to a conclusion regarding the condition of a vessel. This is a customised process that requires understanding what the Client needs to know and for what purpose; consider the differing needs of a pre-purchase survey for a first time boat owner compared to an insurance renewal survey for an experienced boat owner.

The survey process itself follows this White Hat Marine Survey methodology, deciding on an appropriate survey routine that will meet the Client’s requirements, noting the pertinent facts and making relevant observations during survey. This then has to be put into a report that is of maximum use to the Client. Recommendations to deal with identified defects are put into context and a priority order for the defects found is produced graded by severity or urgency. The language used in the report is then tailored to the maritime experience of the Client to minimise confusion.

It has been said many times that a Marine Surveyor lives and dies by their reports and if they are neither accurate, readable or useful then the Client has been let down. A well written report should stand on its own merits and give confidence to the Client, Broker, Insurer or any other interested party. Maintaining a clear distinction between facts and opinions in reports is critical and the effective survey report gets the pertinent details across within a context that enables sound decisions to be made.

In summary, the White Hat Marine Survey approach to marine surveying seeks to identify what is known, what needs to be known and how to go about finding the information that allows for a full and proper conclusion to be drawn regarding the condition of a vessel. Then to get that information across in a logical and understandable manner and to facilitate the Client in using that information to best effect in support of their particular needs.

Here’s short video in which I explain why I love Marine Surveying: