Whole Brain Model

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Analyzing personal and organizational thinking preferences. Explanation of Whole Brain Model of Herrmann. ('76)


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Herrmann Whole Brain model

What is the Whole Brain Model? Description

The Whole Brain Model from Ned Herrmann is a technique that can be used for analyzing personal and organizational thinking preferences.

People have markedly different ways that they perceive and assimilate information, make decisions, and solve problems. Once an individual understands his or her thinking style preferences, the door is open to improved communication, leadership, management, problem solving, decision making and other aspects of personal and interpersonal development.

The Whole Brain Model is a mental model that describes thinking preferences. These are the ways of thinking that satisfy us the most and seem natural for us at this point in our lives. These ways of thinking can change, often as a result of significant emotional experiences, life transitions and other important insights. Thinking preferences describe the patterns of what we prefer to pay attention to and what we don't prefer to pay attention to.

Thinking preferences can be different than our skills or the content of our work or our behavior, depending upon the situation. When we think or function differently than our preferences, even if we have excellent skills, it's more likely that we'll find it somewhat uncomfortable and consuming more of our energy.

The four thinking styles in the Whole Brain Model are:

  1. Logician. Analytical, mathematical, technical and problem solving.
  2. Organizer. Controlled, conservative, planned, organized and administrative in nature.
  3. Communicator. Interpersonal, emotional, musical, spiritual and the "talker" modes.
  4. Visionary. Imaginative, synthesizing, artistic, holistic and conceptual modes.

At the core of the most recent book of Ned Herrmann, lies his belief that the functioning of the human brain is driven by a four-quadrant interconnected set of mental processing modes. These four thinking styles, says Herrmann, originate in the brain's left and right cerebral hemispheres, and in the left and right half limbic systems, each resulting in significantly different and distinct behavioral characteristics in human beings. How this complex brain interaction determines thinking mode dominance and thinking style preferences, and how individuals and organizations can benefit from such understanding, are the main themes of Herrmann's book (see below).

Herrmann's work is widely used by training and development specialists. The Whole Brain Model supersedes "left brain/right brain" thinking in earlier  models. Also it has advanced new concepts of thinking research and their applications in business settings. Dominant thinking in one of the four thinking styles, causes the development of thinking preferences. Then these thinking preferences establish our interests, foster the development of competencies, and influence our career choices and ultimately our work. Argues Herrmann.

Origin of the Whole Brain Model. History

In 1976, Ned Herrmann researched the brain as the source of creativity. At that time, he learned of the pioneering brain research of Roger Sperry, Paul MacLean, Joseph Bogen and Michael Gazzanaga. From their work it is clear that the brain has four distinct and specialized structures. Inspired by this research, Herrmann worked with EEG scans and, later, paper-and-pencil questionnaires to identify four distinct types of thinking, each roughly corresponding to one of the brain structures. The result of this research is the Herrmann Whole Brain Model. 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.)

Book: Ned Herrmann - The Whole Brain Business Book -

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Theory of Multiple Intelligences

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Usage (application): Skills Development

Changing HBDI Your (Coachee's) Thinking Preference

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Usage (application): 4 Exercises to Access Other Preferences

The Brain's Lymbic System is an Open-loop System. The Phenomenon of Mirroring

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An open-loop system depends on external sources to...
Usage (application): EI Awareness

Assessing Thinking Style Preferences with HBDI

The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) can be a powerful tool for assessing thinking style preferences. In many organizations, the HBDI...
Usage (application): Best Practices to Consider

The Main Conclusions of Whole Brain Thinking

For more than two decades, Ned Herrmann has been exploring brain functions and their relation to creativity. Some of the major conclusions he r...
Usage (application): Unleashing Creative and Innovative Potential of Organizations

Thorndike on Intelligence 1920

E.L. Thorndike (1920: Intelligence and its uses) distinguished between three distinct types of intelligence:
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Usage (application): 3 distinct types

Resources - Whole Brain Model Premium

Personal Problem Solving: Process, Principles and Efficiency

A brief but excellent presentation about some key aspects of effective (personal) problem solving. The presentation includes the following sections: Usage (application): Problem Solving Process, Problem Solving Stages, Problem Solving Steps, Interpersonal Problem Solving

The Influence of Emotions and Moods on Decision-Making and Entrepreneurship

This presentation is about emotions in decision-making, thereby paying specific attention to Emotional Intelligence
1. Key questions
2. Emot...
Usage (application): Decision Making, Emotional Intelligence, Entrepreneurship, Cognitive Bias

Assess your Personality Type to Plan your Career

This presentation elaborates on how to define your personality and the career that suits best to you. The presentation includes the following sections...
Usage (application): Career Management, Career Planning, Personality Types

Whole Brain Diagram

Download and edit this 12manage PowerPoint graphic for limited personal, educational and business use. Republishing in intranets, websites, books, ma...
Usage (application): Analyzing Thinking Preferences


Whole Brain Herrmann


Whole Brain Model


Whole Brain Herrmann


Whole Brain Model


Whole Brain Herrmann


Whole Brain Model


Whole Brain Herrmann


Whole Brain Model

Compare with the Whole Brain Model:  Emotional Intelligence  |  Spiral Dynamics  |  Theory of Needs  |  Pyramid Principle  |  Belbin Team Roles  |  Six Thinking Hats  |  Groupthink  |  Coaching  |  Mentoring  |  Johari Window  |  Ashridge Mission Model

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