Thinking Style

Ned Hermann developed the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument®, HBDI® , while he was head of training and management development at General Electric.  The HBDI® reports individual preferences in thinking styles.  The instrument is the product of years of brain research by Ned Hermann.  The result of this research is a model of thinking that uses the analogy of brain function.  The model has four quadrants that characterize the way we think, that is, perceive and make judgments.

Thinking styles are represented as a left-right bias for the left and right hemispheres of the brain and upper and lower bias for the cerebral and limbic functions of the brain.  The presentation of these quadrants is in color.

AquadrantA Quadrant:  Cerebral left hemisphere corresponds to analytic thinking.  Thinking in this style prefers:

  • Logic
  • Analysis
  • Facts
  • Measurement

AquadrantB Quadrant:  Limbic left hemisphere corresponds to implementation thinking.  Thinking in this style prefers:

  • Organization
  • Sequence
  • Planning
  • Detail

AquadrantC Quadrant: Limbic right hemisphere corresponds to social thinking.  Thinking in this style prefers:

  • Interpersonal
  • Social
  • Kinesthetic
  • Emotion

AquadrantD Quadrant:  Cerebral right hemisphere correspond to future thinking.  Thinking in this style prefers:

  • Holistic
  • Intuition
  • Integration
  • Synthesis

Every healthy individual has the capability to choose any of these four thinking styles.  As individuals our preferences give different weight to each thinking style.  We have a baseline thinking style profile and situation and stress profiles.  These can be interpreted from the HBDI® report.  The HBDI® report is not a measure of performance.  While I may prefer to analyze situations, it does not mean that I am any good at it.

Although the instrument does not provide for performance analysis or prediction, it does have a useful application in the pursuit of happiness.  Jobs, hobbies, problems can be organized into the four quadrants according to the primary skills required to perform them.  Reflection and discussion can take place around preference profile and activity profile.

The HBDI® also has group and team applications.  The individual thinking styles of a senior management team, for example, can be overlaid and averaged to present a composite thinking style for that group.  The business processes or problems can be mapped against this profile just as it was done for the individual.

Knowing your thinking style is the groundwork for improving your decisions.


How do I learn about my thinking style?


 Decisions  Strategy  Diversity