Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI)
Ned Herrmann’s extensive, long-term research on thinking and creativity has won national awards. His work is widely regarded as superseding “left brain/right brain” models and other earlier concepts. He began his research while working with General Electric in the US and developed and validated the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI), from 1977-1981. The assessment tool has been completed by more than a million people, and his ideas are in use at Fortune 100 companies and organizations worldwide.
The HBDI is based on extensive research into the physiology of the brain. It is a metaphor which divides the brain into four quadrants: Left, Right, Upper (Cerebral) and Lower (Limbic). Thinking styles can best be described as a coalition of our four different thinking selves:
Quadrant A – Analyzer (Rational Self)
Logical thinking, analysis of facts, processing numbers
Quadrant B – Organizer (Safekeeping Self)
Planning approaches, organizing facts, detailed review
Quadrant C – Personalizer (Feeling Self)
Interpersonal, intuitive, expressive
Quadrant D – Visualizer (Experimental Self)
Imaginative, big picture thinking, conceptualizing
The HBDI is a diagnostic tool comprising 120 self-administered questions (on line or hard copy) that profiles individual’s thinking preferences. The resulting profiles are displayed on a four-quadrant grid that emulates the four thinking structures of the brain. The HBDI displays mental preferences, not abilities and competencies. However, there is a strong relationship between preferences and competencies in that one typically leads to the other: brain tolerance – interest – preferences – motivation – competence.
“It is also important to know that a preference for a particular thinking style and an avoidance of another style are of equal consequence to an individual. A preference, particularly a very strong preference, will lead to “turn-on” work. In contrast, a lack of preference or an actual avoidance in a quadrant results in being “turned off” to the mentality of the work elements in that particular quadrant. Being “turned on” is highly motivational and often represents a state of self-actualization. Being “turned off” is highly demotivational. For these reasons, the HBDI profile is quite predictive of a person’s acquisition of competencies and engagement in work.”
Our thinking preferences influence far more that just our interests and competencies. How we prefer to think influences how we communicate with others, how we interact in teams, how we view business priorities, how we interact in meetings, how we make presentations, how creative we are, how we make decisions, how we solve problems, and how we manage people. Understanding our thinking preferences and avoidances enables us to flex our approach, where necessary, in order to be more effective – one size does not fit all!
There is no “right or wrong” answer, or “better or worse” profile. The HBDI is “non-intrusive”, easy for people to relate to, and easily understood. It can be effectively used by a group of individuals from different departments or as an in-tact team. It is particularly insightful in team building exercises where there has been team friction, either between peers or with the manager.