Whole brain thinking – Introduction

whole brain thinking

Some people dream up futuristic concepts, others enjoy working with processes and procedures, some are great with people and others solve problems. Most have a combination. We are all different, both in the way we look but also in the way we think.

This article explores a thinking preference model; the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) or Whole Brain Thinking. This model has helped me to understand myself by highlighting comfortable thinking preferences but also helped me to identify the things that require that extra bit of effort. It helps me understand others and allows for improved communication and enhanced collaborative productivity.

What is HBDI?
The HBDI tool is an assessment consisting of 120 multiple choice questions that build a profile. Thinking preferences are split into four quadrants and the results show your preference in each of the four. Everyone comes out with four values showing the degree of preference for each quadrant. Although I recommend going through the assessment, it is possible to roughly understand your own profile by seeing which of the quadrants resonate with you the most and also the areas that are least like you.

 What is the history of HBDI?
 Nedd Herrmann developed the Whole Brain Concept in the 1970’s whilst a manager at GE (General Electric). He was interested in the source of creativity, initially focused on GE managers and then across many other companies. Over a million people have taken the assessment and it is used in various forms across the world to assist in management, leadership, sales strategy and the individual’s self awareness.

We are learning more about neuroscience every day. I am not a neuroscientist but I find neuroscience and psychology really interesting. It is common to think of the brain as two halves, the left brain deals with maths and science and the right deals with art and language. When reading Ned Herrmanns book “The Whole Brain Business Book”, each half is split again. Neuroscience is not this simple. Do a quick search for left right brain and you will see there is quite a lot of debate around the validity. Look into the evolution of the brain from reptiles to mammals to humans and you will see the complexities behind thinking is three-dimensional and fascinating. The Whole Brain Thinking Model is very powerful when seen as a metaphor. There are four clear thinking preferences that we can all relate to. There will be some underlying scientific truths to the theory but it should only be seen as a model.

The Four Quadrants
Thinking is split into four key areas. HBDI identifies them as colours to identify analytical thinking (blue), strategic thinking (yellow), people focused thinking (red) and organisational thinking (green). This diagram from HBDI.com shows words that resonate with each quadrant.
I will talk more about the quadrants and what they mean in my other articles.

What does this mean day-to-day?
 HBDI helps you to understand yourself and your relationship with others. This is not a guide to how good you are at each of the quadrants. It just identifies where you are most comfortable thinking. My profile is very high in yellow, high red, medium blue and low green. I enjoy coming up with future ideas and looking at the big picture. People are a big part of my life and I enjoy collaboration. I don’t get up in the morning wanting to follow a set procedure or process but I am able to follow them when I need to. I am aware that this takes extra effort and with an understanding of myself I will drive through, following a process, rather than giving up.
It is also a useful tool to help  understand the frustrations of others.

A predominantly green thinker may want to follow a process in detail. A yellow thinker may gloss over this to think about the future and wider vision. The green thinker may see this as lack of detail. A yellow thinker may see a process as having too much detail and being too short-term focused.

By understanding how others prefer to think, we can communicate in the most effective and harmonious way.

This is just an introduction. To learn more about the basics of Whole Brain Thinking, take a look at Herrmann International.


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