In 1976, Ned Hermann was working for GE as head of management education, when he really started to pursue brain related research centering around the function of the brain in relation to people’s learning and thinking styles. (Herrmann) He knew that a competitive edge was possible for GE if managers were trained better. How to find the edge? Herrmann knew it was through brain dominance. From his previous research on the brain, he knew the brain could specialize, but he felt there was more to it than the left brain or right brain specialization other researchers had discovered. He thought brain dominance was part of the “human condition” not only physically -think right handed- but mentally too. (Herrmann) He wanted to find an instrument to measure this dominance.
During one of his Whole Brain Symposiums, while he was presenting research to the audience he realized he might have found connections which could be the basis for a measuring instrument. (Herrmann) Further research, more workshops, and various data collection all led to the creation of the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI). “HBDI measures the mental activity a person is more inclined to engage in at a particular time.” (Herrmann) These are also referred to as learning preferences. There is no judgment when it comes to learning preferences; they are not good or bad, right or wrong, only preferences. HBDI is not a test, but a tool which helps identifies one’s preferences by identifying which part and/or parts of the brain one is using. (Herrmann) It has nothing to do with IQ. Thank goodness.
Many researchers had identified the left brain/right brain, but it was Herrmann that came up with the idea of the Whole Brain. He determined through his research that the brain operated on a continuum with four points: left, left center, right center, and right. (Herrmann) Within each of these points or quadrants, as Herrmann called them, were descriptors. The descriptors describe the different ways people think and process information. Herrmann divided the brain into four quadrants and labeled them A, B, C, and D. A and B represented the left hemisphere and C and D represented the right hemisphere.
Here are the descriptors as described in a sorting exercise from The Creative Brain:
I know what you are doing. You are trying to figure out where you fit it. Go ahead, I did the same thing. Please do not go crazy trying to fit into one quadrant or another, as the research shows we are combinations of all four, but we do have dominances. My next blog will delve deeper into these categories and the behavior patterns from these areas. What is important to remember is that these are learning preferences and there is no right or wrong.
Herrmann would tell you “the four-quadrant profile is a metaphor describing how a person prefers to acquire and process information, not how fast or accurately they do it.” (Herrmann) Learning about the four-quadrants can be advantageous as one navigates the working world. These quadrants represent the thinking/learning preferences you and others have. Each person has different preferences which become dominances for them. Knowing one’s preferences and dominances, as well as those around you, may lead to better results for you and your company. It can open you up to seeing how others learn and process information. It may also open one up to using more of your least dominant preferences when needed.
The picture above represents the four quadrants of the Whole Brain Thinking® system. The video below gives a short description of these quadrants. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0M_s6UAays&list=PLc3hP2_jw9SlPKktPdMZc6vKXScSqKoEf&index=1
Herrmann, Ned. The Creative Brain. North Carolina: The Ned Herrmann Group, 2008
“HBDI Tips-What is the HBDI Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument?” YouTube, uploaded by Sticky Learning, 31 May 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0M_s6UAays&list=PLc3hP2_jw9SlPKktPdMZc6vKXScSqKoEf&index=1