What is Whole Brain® Thinking?


Analytical Thinking | Blue (A) Quadrant

  • Logical
  • Analytical
  • Fact based
  • Quantitative

Practical Thinking | Green (B) Quadrant

  • Organized
  • Sequential
  • Planned
  • Detailed

Relational Thinking | Red (C) Quadrant

  • Interpersonal
  • Feeling-based
  • Kinesthetic
  • Emotional

Experimental Thinking | Yellow (D) Quadrant

  • Holistic
  • Intuitive
  • Integrating
  • Synthesising

Whole Brain® Thinking is a scalable framework which provides a lens for improved understanding and insight. It acknowledges that different tasks require different mental processes, and different people prefer different kinds of thinking. Whole Brain® Thinking helps organisations get better results when they can strategically leverage the full spectrum of thinking available.

Everyone has access to all four quadrants but to varying degrees. Our database indicates that 5%of the population have a preference for one quadrant, 58% have a preference for two quadrants, 34% have a preference for three quadrants and 5% prefer all four equally. Applying Whole Brain® Thinking means being able to fully leverage one’s own preferences, stretch to other quadrants when necessary, and adapt to and take advantage of the preferences of those around you to improve performance and results.

It is the framework which underpins the highly validated Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®), the profile at the heart of the Herrmann Whole Brain® Thinking System.

Origins of the Whole Brain® Thinking System and the HBDI® Profile

In 1976, while researching the brain as the source of creativity, Ned Herrmann learned of the pioneering brain research of Roger Sperry, Paul MacLean, Joseph Bogen and Michael Gazzaniga. From their work it is clear that the brain has four distinct and specialised structures.

Inspired by this research, Herrmann worked with EEG scans and, later, paper-and-pencil questionnaires to identify four distinct types of thinking. The result of this research is the Herrmann Whole Brain® Thinking System.

In August 1979, after many tests, in-depth research and mountains of data, Herrmann had developed a valid self-assessment that enables individuals to understand their own thinking style preferences—the HBDI® (Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument®).

Herrmann’s books, The Creative Brain and The Whole Brain® Business Book, provide additional background on his research and the process he took to develop the HBDI® and Whole Brain® Thinking System.