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Let's take a closer look at the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDIŽ). This cognitive measurement model, developed by Ned Herrmann, produces valuable assessments for managers and leaders.

Herrmann was Manager of Management Education for General Electric, who theorized that human thinking could be categorized in four different ways:

  • Analytical
  • Sequential
  • Interpersonal
  • Imaginative

Herrmann's model, known as the Whole BrainŽ Thinking Model metaphorically represents the specialized brain. Herrmann argued that each person has at least one dominant preference for one of these four styles of thinking, and created a validated 120-question assessment to determine which style(s) prevailed in a respondent. The results are then plotted into four color-coded quadrants. 

"Whole BrainŽ" thinking involves optimizing one's work approach to employ all four characteristics, for better results. There are three main benefits of the HBDIŽ tool for leaders who want to encourage Whole BrainŽ Thinking in their organizations.

1. Increased Talent Development

HBDIŽ doesn't pigeonhole an individual as possessing only one cognitive style. It enables a deeper understanding of dominant cognitive tendencies in combination with lesser ones, painting a picture of an individual's "whole brainŽ thinking."

Approaching individuals on your team with the understanding that each has potential to develop lesser competencies fosters patience and support in the workplace. Encouraging your staff to consider the different styles of thinking in themselves, and one another, can lead to a more supportive work environment, where individuals feel compelled to be creative and improve themselves.

2. Strategic Communication

Understanding your team's thinking styles allows you to craft strategic communications. The HBDIŽ mapping tool has been used to improve interpersonal as well as group communications, and has been embraced for creating opportunities for the development of less-preferred styles of thinking for certain individuals.

3. Improved Task Assignment

Understanding your team's thinking styles also allows you to leverage their skills for particular tasks. All types of thinking - analytical, sequential, interpersonal, and imaginative - are important in different situations, and knowing who on your team can be relied upon in which circumstance leads to more effective outcomes.

The HBDIŽ Assessment and the concept of "Whole BrainŽ Thinking" have been applied in business and government settings since their development. Take a look at your own organization and ask yourself what you're doing to develop your team.

If something isn't working, perhaps you don't have a particular skill set represented. Employing the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument can be a great way to determine where the gaps in your team - and your leadership - are lurking.


Larry Hart

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