FAQs, Quick Facts, and Information



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What is the HBDI®?

The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®) is a 116-question, highly validated diagnostic survey. Your answers indicate your thinking style preferences. Scoring results are free of value judgment and cultural bias. 

The HBDI® Profile is available in a variety of formats:

  • The paper package includes a full color profile, an accompanying interpretation booklet that explains the profile and scores in detail, and a discussion of the implications your results have for business and personal life.
  • The online version, the Thinking Accelerator®, provides all of the same information in an accessible online format and includes additional learning information, such as how your thinking shifts under stress and applications of the concepts to teaming, communications and innovation.
  • The HBDI® App for smartphones and mobile devices gives you quick, easy access to your HBDI® results anywhere, any time, to reinforce and continue the learning and application process . 

What are the four HBDI® preferences?

The HBDI® is based on the Whole Brain® Model, a metaphor for how people tend to use their brains and how their thinking works. In the Whole Brain® Model, thinking falls into four preference clusters of equal importance that everyone has access to: 

  • The Upper Left Blue A Quadrant specializes in logical, analytical, quantitative, fact-based thinking. 
  • The Lower Left Green B Quadrant focuses on details and specializes in planning, organizing, and sequencing information. 
  • The Lower Right Red C Quadrant places a priority on feelings and the interpersonal, emotional and kinesthetic aspects of a situation. 
  • The Upper Right Yellow D Quadrant synthesizes and integrates information and is more intuitive and holistic in its thinking.

Is there an ideal score or profile?

The HBDI® isn't "scored" because it isn't a test. There are no right or wrong answers.

Is there an ideal profile? Absolutely not! There is no such thing as a good, bad, right or wrong profile.

One of the most appreciated aspects of the HBDI® is that it shows us you can be “great” whatever your profile.

People often think that being “whole” (1-1-1-1) would be ideal, but, like any profile, it may have its disadvantages as well as its advantages. When you discuss this profile with those who have it, they often say they are kind of a “jack of all trades” but sometimes regret not being specialized in any one area.

Every profile has some positive qualities and some challenges associated with it. What’s most important to focus on is how your profile is working for you in your current situation, and how can you improve your effectiveness, given what you now know in the information about your profile.

The HBDI® is a tool provided to encourage us to understand our strengths, weaknesses, preferences and avoidances. We can then, if desired, find strategies to learn and develop competencies in those areas of lesser preference or weakness. By doing this, we widen our scope for using different modes without compromising our preferences. Since we can all shift beyond our preferences when needed, the HBDI® Profile should never be used as a “cop out” or an excuse for behavior.  

Does the HBDI® stereotype? How do I use this model without oversimplifying it?

We know from our data that 95% of the population is multi-dominant in their preferences, so referring to people as if there were only one quadrant or color just doesn’t give the full picture.

There’s always a tendency to oversimplify when we create shorthand language to describe situations or other people.

Keep in mind that just because we have some preference for a quadrant does not mean we prefer everything in that quadrant, and that a low preference does not mean a lack of skills.

Think of a person you know who probably has a similar profile to your profile. Is he or she exactly the same as you are? Probably not. For example, two people may share a strong D yellow preference, but one’s preference might be for artistic aspects while the other’s is more for conceptual and metaphorical aspects.

What does it cost to complete the HBDI®?

There are a range of options available. Email info@hbdi.com for assistance.

Is it wise to share my HBDI® with others?

At Herrmann, we honor your privacy with respect to the HBDI® data, but we encourage you to share your profile with others for your benefit. Sharing profiles makes it possible for individuals who work together frequently to maximize their working relationship and their communication. Sharing profiles among team members allows teams to devise strategies for meetings, document development, sales and communication that take advantage of the preferences of the team.

How can I get an HBDI® profile for a colleague or my team?

There are a range of options available. Visit www.thinkherrmann.com or email info@hbdi.com for details.

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Whole Brain® Thinking

What is Whole Brain® Thinking and why should I care?

We have all met people who are very bright and capable in a given area or skill, but seem totally incapable of something much simpler. The “absent-minded genius” is a good example: Scientific theory is no problem for this person but socializing at a party is. In business you often find a strategic, “big picture” specialist who never seems to notice details.

How does this happen?

Research on the brain has led to an understanding that each of us has a preferred way and mode of thinking that affects the way we take in and process information.

The awareness of one’s own thinking style and the thinking styles of others, combined with the ability to act outside of one’s preferred thinking style when the situation requires it, is known as “Whole Brain® Thinking.”

How do the Whole Brain® Model and the HBDI® profile relate to the physical brain?

The Whole Brain® Model is a metaphor for how we think. Although originally developed using an actual testing of brain activity, the HBDI® profile does not purport to represent the actual synaptic activity of the physical brain at any given moment. It represents a picture of your thinking preferences.

Research shows that we all have access to our whole brain and are constantly activating many different areas simultaneously. Over the course of our lives we develop patterns of usage that ultimately result in our thinking style preferences.

The HBDI® profile is designed to provide a picture of that array of preferences, giving you a way to understand and describe your preferred “clusters” of thinking and how those preferences impact your effectiveness and choices, as well as how they may differ from those you live and work with.

How did the Whole Brain® Model get developed?

Ned Herrmann, the developer of the Whole Brain® Model, became curious about the nature and source of learning and creativity. His research made clear to him that the source of creativity and learning was the brain.

Pursuing that “aha” led to the Whole Brain® concept and the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®), which he developed in the early 1980s while he was head of management education at General Electric’s Management Development Institute at Crotonville. His dual profession as an artist and educator gave him the opportunity to apply his new understanding to Whole Brain® Thinking, management, creative thinking and learning.

In subsequent years the Whole Brain® Model and HBDI® have been used across the globe, translated into 28 languages and used by 9 out of 10 Fortune 100 organizations, helping millions of thinkers worldwide get better performance and results though better thinking.

What are the four preferences of the Whole Brain® Model?

The metaphor divides our thinking into four separate quadrants, recognizing that we all have access to all four, irrespective of our preferences. Each quadrant is different and of equal importance:

  • The Upper Left Blue A Quadrant specializes in logical, analytical, quantitative, fact-based thinking.
  • The Lower Left Green B Quadrant focuses on details and specializes in planning, organizing, and sequencing information.
  • The Lower Right Red C Quadrant places a priority on feelings and the interpersonal, emotional and kinesthetic aspects of a situation. 
  • The Upper Right Yellow D Quadrant synthesizes and integrates information and is more intuitive and holistic in its thinking.

I’ve heard of left brain/right brain, but how do we get to Whole Brain®?

The oversimplified notion of left brain-right brain, which could even imply that we use only half of our brains, is not an accurate depiction of how the brain actually works. Research has shown that the notion of brain specialization is valid, with these specialized areas being massively interconnected—so we are “hardwired” to be whole.

The brain is physically constructed so that specialized areas of processing can collaborate with other areas of specialization even though we have developed preferences for certain mental activities over others.

The Whole Brain® Thinking concept uses this structure as the basis of its metaphoric description of how we think. The four-quadrant Whole Brain® Model allows us to differentiate and accurately describe the array of preferences we each have for each quadrant, while recognizing that we have preferences for some over others. The organizing principle of the brain sets us up for wholeness..

How will Whole Brain® Thinking (WBT) help me personally?

Applications of WBT include: communication, problem solving, decision making, career development, management development, creativity, teaching and learning, and strategic planning. WBT makes you more aware of your style and preferences. With that awareness, you can create an action plan to modify your behavior in the areas that are beneficial to you and to others around you.

The first step is to understand your own preferences and the way in which thinking preferences affect how people behave, what they pay attention to and how they go about getting things done.

The second step is to pick up clues to other people’s preferences.

Then you can use that knowledge to be more effective and efficient about how you approach people, problems, decisions, processes and specific tasks and situations.

In communication, for example, using Whole Brain® Thinking techniques and tools allows you to communicate with others using their preferred style. The result is a reduction in the barriers that impede effective communication. All of this saves time and frustration and removes judgment from the equation.

People who have used WBT often say that the “aha” elucidates why previous supervisors and managers acted the way they did. The typical response is, “That explains why we never got along. It’s just how we think.” It often changes the way you observe other people in the communication process.

One thinker put it this way: “In the past, I would have quit listening, cut the person off or been in total agreement and harmony with them. Now I continue to listen and let the other person finish their statement because I recognize what is going on.”

See also The Whole Brain® Business Book, 2nd Edition, for a variety of applications and exercises to help you apply and benefit from Whole Brain® Thinking.

What do the color designations for each quadrant of the Whole Brain® Model mean?

The upper left A quadrant typifies logical processing, and therefore, the color chosen to represent this quadrant is cerulean blue—clear and to the point. The lower left B quadrant—the structured and organized quadrant—was designated as green because green suggested groundedness. With its emotional, feeling and interpersonal orientation, the lower right C quadrant was assigned red because of the emotional passion implied by the color. The upper right D quadrant, with its imaginative qualities, was assigned yellow because of that color’s vibrancy.

Can I use this model with my team if they haven’t completed HBDI® themselves?

Only certified HBDI® Practitioners are qualified to teach others about the model, facilitate a full workshop and debrief profiles.

How can I use this information to increase sales, close deals faster, improve team performance, pick up market share, improve customer loyalty, etc.?

If you can take an educated guess about what your client’s preference is, then you can then “connect” with that person in that quadrant.

For example, you may have a client who prefers to know all the details about a project. They like lists and checkpoints, and you may find them to be very organized as well. This is indicative of a preference in the green quadrant.

But let’s say you prefer to think from the yellow quadrant and pay little attention to details or checkpoints. You could focus your behaviors to be more “green” or B oriented to better communicate with the client. It may be a challenge, but it could lead to better communication or even gaining more of the client’s respect.

Knowing who you are dealing with and what their preferences are will help significantly in your communications with your clients and colleagues. The HBDI® App has tools you can use to think through and diagnose your clients.

For more information on sales applications, see The Whole Brain® Business Book, 2nd Edition.

Are there advantages to “whole-brained” teams?

Yes, especially when the team is tasked with complex problems or projects. A six-year study focused on factors that increase the productivity and efficiency of teams found that: a) teams that are balanced in terms of thinking preferences (i.e., have diverse thinkers represented) are more effective; they consider more options and make better decisions; b) whole-brained were 66% more efficient (i.e., did things right); and c) 70% or more of the teams that were whole brained were “successful” (versus 30% or less when not).

Are there advantages to teams made up of people with similar thinking preferences?

Teams made up of members who have similar thinking preferences will typically come to agreement much faster than those with diverse preferences represented, so they can be more efficient and effective when the question or issue at hand is simple and requires a quick decision.

To what extent is the work on Whole Brain® Thinking and the HBDI® documented?

Over 200 doctoral dissertations and masters theses document this work in a variety of theoretical and practical applications. In addition, more than 200 books and magazines make references to the HBDI® and Whole Brain® Thinking in a wide variety of applications. Over 2 million individual profiles and thousands of group analyses and interpretations are in the current database. Hundreds of articles around the globe have been published, and a comprehensive literature review is available upon request.

Why would I want to become more “whole brained” in my thinking?

Whole Brain® Thinking gives you the opportunity to improve your work performance, your communication, and your effectiveness, both in one-on-one and group situations.

Have you ever finished a project or task, realized you missed something in the process and thought, “Why didn’t we think of that?”

Or have you ever thought, “This person and I just don’t communicate. We just don’t get each other.” Using Whole Brain® Thinking means being able to draw upon and use the thinking available to us all in each of the four quadrants, irrespective of our preferences.

In problem solving and decision making, at an individual level and in teams, it enables you to take a comprehensive view of any situation and look at it from a variety of perspectives. As a result, you will have literally “thought of everything,” eliminating blind spots and surprises, reducing risks and increasing innovation.

In terms of communication, each quadrant has its own language, which is the product of its thinking preferences. Typically, when someone is “speaking a language” we don’t understand, we tune out. Whole Brain® Thinking provides you with a framework for listening and better understanding as well as more effectively getting buy-in from other people as you communicate with them. It enables you to “hear” what others are saying even when they think differently from you and to present your ideas in your listener’s preferred style. The result is an opening of the lines of communication.

How can I get more information about introducing Whole Brain® Thinking to my team?

There are a range of options available. Visit www.thinkherrmann.com or email info@hbdi.com for details.