ENT 601 Week 5: “Brain Dominance: Where Do I Fall?”

As stated in last week’s blog, “HBDI measures the mental activity a person is more inclined to engage in at a particular time.” (Herrmann) This is also referred to as learning preferences. It is the way that we take in information and process it. There is no judgment when it comes to learning preferences; they are not good or bad, right or wrong, only preferences.

In over 500,000 HBDI (Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument) surveys, Herrmann found these profiles when studying brain dominance: only 7% of the population are single dominant, 60% of them are double dominant, 30% of them are triple dominant and around 3% of them are quadruple dominant. (Herrmann) What does that mean to creativity?

According to Herrmann, those with a single dominant profile tend to have little internal conflict yet may have trouble moving back and forth between quadrants, thereby reducing their ability to be creative.   For double dominant profiles, which the numbers show most of us falling into that category, we need to look at the three different types:  same hemisphere A and B or D and C quadrants; cerebral or limbic A and D or B and C quadrants; and diagonal opposites A and C or B and D quadrants.(Herrmann)  Within the same hemisphere, those on the left may look more controlling and more challenging to be around whereas those on the right may appear flaky and less reliable.  You can see how it could be difficult to work with others if double dominants do not develop an appreciation for those with opposite preferences than themselves. When we look at the cerebral versus the limbic double dominances we can see a person may be able to process both sides, but it takes longer due to all the options. (Herrmann) At least creativity is not stifled. Diagonal opposites (even the wording sounds bad) are the most problematic.  They are always opposed. It is doubtful there is much creativity going on in this situation.

Triple dominant profiles tend to take longer to mature, but their linguistic abilities exceed double dominants because they can speak with three fourths of the population without any problems. (Herrmann) Quadruple dominant profiles can communicate with others easily and work as translators between those with different preferences.  Due to their unique situation, quadruple dominants tend to have a balanced view in different situations, yet they, too, have their struggles and any struggle a single, double, or triple dominant has, they experience it as well. (Herrmann)

See the chart below for a further breakdown of the quadrants and what it means to be dominant in those categories.  At the bottom of the chart are some of the professions that Herrmann found within his studies and how they measured on the HBDI survey.  These professions merely represent a preferred dominant profile within each quadrant. All the professions have relationships to the other quadrants while some may be stronger than others. The key is to remember that only 7% of the population are single quadrant dominant.  Looking closely, one can see the crossover in some of these professions.

Facts are crucial Only wants answers Most sensitive Fears structure
May appear aloof One task at a time Spiritual Thrives on new ideas
Not visual Rigorous- Demanding Kinesthetic Visionary
Avoids emotion No shortcuts for B Flaky (can be) Trouble meeting deadlines
Engineer, Financial Officer, Physicist Administrator, Foreman, Secretary, Homemaker Social Worker, Nurse, Secretary, Homemaker Sales Manager, Entrepreneur, Artist, Physicist, Homemaker


So, what does this all mean to us as inspiring entrepreneurs?  HBDI is another tool to be used in the workplace to help us be successful. An example of many types of assessments used in the workplace can be found on Livecareer.com. https://www.livecareer.com/quintessential/career-assessment  What is interesting about HBDI is that it gives insight into one’s own learning and processing of information and why we are the way we are.  If we are honest with ourselves, we might already know where we fall.  If you dare to acknowledge your profile preferences, then think about your work relationships and where your colleagues fall.  Do you see any strong differences or similarities in the way each of you approach tasks and projects? Is there conflict or is it easy? Either way, perhaps the knowledge of your preferences and your colleagues’ preferences can help you be more open to other’s preferences.

For those who have read the Founder’s Dilemma, remember the discussion around homogeneous groups/teams and the results?  Groups which were more heterogeneous were more creative in the workplace.  This is the same for diversity within brain dominance in the workplace. The more variety of brain dominance, the more ideas are available and options can be seen. An interesting article by Marty Zwilling, Is An Ideal Entrepreneur Right Brain or Left Brain? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marty-zwilling/is-an-ideal-entrepreneur_b_5155730.html suggests we need both brains (left and right) to work together to be entrepreneurs. He contends it is difficult for any of us to be both right and left brained at the same time. Of course, only 3% of the population can do that.  Therefore, we need to work together as “a whole team” to create “whole brain thinking.” (Zwilling) I am sure Mr. Herrmann would no doubt agree, wholeheartedly.


Herrmann, Ned. The Creative Brain. North Carolina: The Ned Herrmann Group, 2008.

Wasserman, Noam The Founder’s Dilemmas. New Jersey: Princeton UP, 2012.

“Is An Ideal Entrepreneur Right Brain Or Left Brain?” Huffingtonpost.com, 2014.

Web. 15 Apr. 2014.


Marty Zwilling




9 thoughts on “ENT 601 Week 5: “Brain Dominance: Where Do I Fall?”

  1. This is fascinating. When I read the box at the bottom, I’m shocked to see entrepreneur listed as one who doesn’t like structure and deadlines. I think entrepreneurs have structure, it just doesn’t appear that way to others. Additionally, deadlines are great ways to impose getting the work done. I find I’m a mix of B, C & D. I plan on taking the assessment and reading the article as this topic has my attention.

  2. It is hard to believe that entrepreneurs fear structure. With my company I had to implement structure the best I could or I would have burned and died real fast. Also I had to implement deadlines and keep them if at all possible. One thing in the article that stood out no matter which quadrant you fall in you have to appreciate and accept those with opposite preferences than yours. As I have gotten older and hopefully wiser I have grown to understand this better and appreciate it whereas when I had my own company alot of times that was a huge shortfall of mine and did not serve me well.

  3. What an interesting look at learning preferences! This chart/graph resonated with me, as I could see myself fitting into B, C and D most seamlessly, making me a “triple-dominant.” I realized that I move most easily between C&D (adjacent quadrants), and struggle the most with movement between the B&D quadrants (diagonals) – this makes sense based on the theory Hermann presents. It also poses an interesting question: is it possible for individuals to merge dominances between diagonal quadrants more effectively, and how can this be done? I wonder if it may be possible for individuals to intentionally and consciously employ opposing dominances, thereby creating new neural connections and patterns of behavior. Our brains are far more “plastic” than we often given them credit for.

  4. I have always been interested in this subject and wish I got this book before you. Very interesting. I do find myself more as a D with C highlights. I find knowing what you are and knowing the personality traits and facing them by having to with brutal honesty choose including your faults is hard but a good thing to do. Reality Check.
    Great Blog

  5. Great post! I would have to say that personally I fit into the D column. Not that I don’t like structure, it’s just that I like to do whatever, whenever. The 9 – 5 scene, bores me! I do have problems with time management, I’m trying to get better with that for sure! Great information, thanks for sharing!

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