How is it that two people from the same company who attend the same training session at the same time can take completely different things away from the training to apply in their individual jobs?

William “Ned” Herrmann asked himself the very same thing and this conundrum was partly responsible for the research which led to him developing the Herrmann Whole Brain model. This model is a metaphor for the way we naturally think and gives us an easy visual picture of an individual’s thinking and learning preferences.

In setting himself this challenge, Hermann identified four main styles of thinking, and these are represented in the Whole Brain model as four quadrants. The model sums up our approach to thinking about life’s challenges, and is divided into left and right, upper and lower parts of the brain.

HBDI thinking preferences are:

• Left brain (i.e. more analytical)
• Right brain (i.e. more creative)
• Upper or cerebral brain (i.e. ends towards the more cognitive and intellectual)
• Lower or limbic brain (i.e. towards the more intuitive and emotional)

It is important to stress that this is a metaphor – it doesn’t tell us what you’re ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at, it simply recognises that everyone has different ways of approaching different situations. The HBDI profile has been validated over many thousands of individual results. By acknowledging and then understanding these differences, we can know how best to get these diverse but complementary preferences working together to make magic happen!

The four quadrants represent the four thinking styles in this way:

A. Analytical
This quadrant prefers a very logical, analytical and rational approach. When using this thinking style you would be placing greater emphasis on the facts and figures of the situation.

B. Sequential
This quadrant prefers structure and procedure. Those who favour this thinking style tend to be very organised and methodical, and are usually great at managing their time.

C. Interpersonal
This quadrant places great emphasis on people. If you favour this style, you are probably naturally quite intuitive and sensitive to other people’s needs.

D. Imaginative
This quadrant loves adventure, risk and experimentation. If this is your preferred thinking style, you are probably highly imaginative, innovative and creative.

We are all able to access each of these four styles – we just may find it more natural to access some more easily than others. Over the coming weeks, we will go into a little bit more detail about the preferences represented by each of the coloured quadrants, with a few ideas on how to recognise the preferences in yourself and in others!

If you’re interested in discovering more about how we apply this model to help teams and individuals communicate more effectively, create innovation and lead with confidence, contact us at or call us on 01753 373063.