Why We Resist Diversity of Thought


See if you can imagine this scenario: You're in the middle of a heated discussion with someone about a big political, religious or personal topic. The conversation is getting tense, on the verge of an argument. Tempers are rising. Voices are getting louder—or the type has moved to ALL CAPS. You’re feeling angry, maybe even a little afraid. On the one hand, you really want to win this debate. On the other, you just want to run away.

We live in a pretty charged atmosphere these days, so you probably didn’t have to do too much imagining to conjure up that image in your mind. And sure, we know that a diversity of thought and perspectives can be valuable, but knowing that doesn’t make these moments any easier to deal with.

In fact, there’s a lot going on in your head in these kinds of situations. Your bloodstream is flooded with cortisol, adrenaline and other hormones that fuel the “fight or flight” response. Your neocortex, the part of your brain that controls rational thought, is on a temporary time out. You're triggered—not really thinking, just reacting.

Read More

The Workplace of the Future is Yours to Build


Do you feel inspired in certain environments? Stifled and stressed in others? It’s not just your imagination. There are scientific studies that explain why most people hate working in cubicles, or why we’re better at conceptual thinking when we’re in rooms with high ceilings.

In his TEDx Talk, Designing a Better Future, architect Scott Wyatt explores the power of design and how it shapes the way we think and perform. He’s now applying what he’s learned to create elegant, functional floor plans and building arrangements that are designed for the way work gets done today. “Generative” buildings, for example, encourage collaboration, creativity and chance meetings with people you don’t see every day.

Looking toward the challenges of the future, Wyatt reminds us that this is a choice: “We’ll choose to build workplaces that distract, or we’ll choose to build workplaces that motivate.”

But of course, the structure itself is only part of the solution. We have to break down the other barriers that undermine quality thinking and performance. And there seem to be more of those now than ever before. As the world of work changes, your learning and development strategy will have to change, too. The question is, will you wait until the point where you have no other option, or will you take the lead and build that future now?

Read More

10 Simple Ways to Learn Something New Every Day


At Herrmann we talk about learning as a mental process that leads to lasting change in knowledge, behavior or both. A key word to notice in that sentence is process. It’s not an outcome; it’s the action. It’s what you have to keep doing to keep growing.

Now that doesn’t necessarily mean dropping everything and taking a six-week course or attending a formal lecture. It could. But it could also mean taking advantage of the everyday opportunities you have to pick up a new insight, expand your horizons or stretch your thinking in different directions.

Read More

Do Your Team Building Exercises Do More Harm Than Good?


What could be more fun than a team building exercise? Before you say, “Just about anything,” maybe we should look at some of the reasons why team building activities get such a bad rap.

Let’s start with that loaded word “fun.” Fun activities are a great way to lighten things up and spark new ideas, especially when the team’s been under a lot of pressure or needs a break from some intense work. One study even found that humor and laughter are effective coping strategies for dealing with failure and stress.

Having fun at work is a good thing, and in some cases, the break might be just what the team needs to recharge its thinking and get a fresh outlook on the task at hand. But sometimes these activities don’t really have a point. Either they’re not serving a clear business purpose or they haven’t been designed with a specific goal in mind. In this sense, they’re not really team building exercises; they’re socializing disguised as team building. It’s no wonder then that some team members will end up annoyed, feeling like they’re wasting time that could be better spent working on meeting that critical deadline.

Read More

This Employee Assessment Takes You Outside the Box


Want to know what your personality is? Or find out your “inner truth”? How about which “Game of Thrones” character you are? There are plenty of employee assessments and online quizzes out there that will reveal what box, character, style or type you fall into—the answer to the question: Am I a “this” or am I a “that”?

But when it comes to the HBDI®, we talk in terms of thinking preferences. No one is strictly a “this” or a “that,” because everyone has access to their whole brain, regardless of what your preferences are. You simply prefer (and in some cases, actively avoid) certain kinds of thinking over others.

So, what exactly do we mean by thinking preference? Well, it might be easier to start by explaining what a preference is not.

Read More

Navigate Uncertainty Like a Pro with These Agile Thinking Secrets


The other day, a friend shared with me this nightly after-dinner routine at her house: She and her husband clear the table. She loads the dishwasher. She leaves the kitchen. He stays behind and rearranges all the dishes in the dishwasher.

“He always complains about how I load it,” she told me. “He says I don’t use the space efficiently enough. So we just have to run it more often! I’d rather do that than spend all day trying to organize every dish in there just so.”

I’m not going to weigh in on who’s loading the dishwasher correctly, but I do get where he’s coming from. There’s nothing more annoying than watching someone tackle a task when you know there’s a better way. No matter what you say or do, they won’t listen to reason, even though your way is the more precise way. Or the more efficient way...or thoughtful...or creative...

You know, the right way.

Sometimes, it feels like we spend a lot of energy trying to make sense of each other and the world around us. Whether we’re navigating the dishwasher protocols of our significant others, delegating a task to a direct report at work, or trying to find our way to the solution to a nagging business challenge, one thing is clear: Other people don’t always do things the way we would do them. And that can be pretty irritating.

The question is, why do people approach tasks, problems, decisions, ideas, and, yes, even the dishwasher, in completely different ways? Why do we all take different routes to the same destination?

Read More

HBDI® in Action: Why Discomfort Leads to Better Thinking


Al Landers, Vice President at SBTI, is a Lean Sigma Black Belt, an HBDI® Certified Practitioner and a senior executive with over 35 years of experience. In this guest post, Al shares a story from a particularly memorable and thought-provoking training session.

I had just given the class a 15-minute break from the simulation and was walking to get a cup of coffee when I passed John, one of the Master Black Belt students who was talking the change management module. I casually asked him how he was doing. He startled me with his response.

“I need to get up and walk around. The words on my notebook page are swimming around and I can’t read. I’m actually starting to feel nauseous.

“Whoa, John,” I said. “We can stop here. We’ve had 3 rounds already, and I think we’ve gotten as much out of it as we can. Take your time!”

He got up and walked out of the room to take a much-needed break. I stood there for a few minutes thinking about what just happened.

Read More

More is Not Always Better: How to Improve Communication at Work


No one listens! It’s one of the most common complaints across workplaces, industries, jobs, even in our personal lives. It doesn’t matter how much detail we give or how many times we say things, it seems like people keep coming back with questions about things we’ve already addressed.

So, how can you improve communications and resolve this annoying problem? One piece of advice you’ve likely heard is to over-communicate if you really want people to listen to you. Explain it again and again. Keep hammering away at it until you break through.

Have you tried that? Had any luck with it?

My guess is they’re still not listening to you.

Read More

Improve Email Communication by Asking Yourself 4 Simple Questions


How many times have you written up what seems like a perfectly clear email message only to find that the person on the receiving end just doesn’t “get it”? Not only is it annoying, it can end up wasting a lot of time for both parties.

Beyond the obvious need for a sarcasm font, here’s what could be going on: You likely communicate in a style that’s rooted in the way you prefer to think. The problem is, that can be at odds with the preferences of the person you’re communicating with. You may prefer formal, sequential, highly organized thinking, and so your email messages will follow suit. Your recipient, on the other hand, may prefer a more casual, free-flowing style. They’re looking for the big picture, and when they see all that detail, they tune out.

Or maybe you gravitate toward a more expressive style. You would never just jump right into the cold, dry facts without a few pleasantries up front. Meanwhile, your recipient might be rolling their eyes, wondering why you can’t just get to the point.

Considering how much we rely on email today, it makes sense to find some common ground and learn how to adapt your thinking and your messages—both so you can be heard and so you can avoid confusion or miscommunication.

Read More

What To Do When Turnover Hits Your Dream Team


There’s nothing better than a team that’s found its rhythm. Healthy debate, deep trust, respect for each others’ ideas, mutual accountability and support...it’s truly the dream team.

And then someone leaves.

Dealing with employee turnover is always a challenge, and it can be particularly disruptive when it happens to a tight-knit, high-performing team. No matter how great things are today, when a key person leaves, it can throw off your productivity, morale and even your results.

People leave. That’s the reality. But the best defense against turnover is having a plan in place before the inevitable happens. Let’s look at a Whole Brain ® approach you can follow to plan for turnover and keep your team on track when a member departs and a new member comes on board.

Read More



see all

The Whole Brain Business Book 2nd Edition

Read the first two chapters and order your copy today!