The Whole Brain® Blog Blog focusing on the HBDI and the brain


4 Steps to Developing the Thinking Agility of Today’s and Tomorrow’s Leaders

We have to be faster. We have to be more flexible. We have to constantly balance the long term and the short term, and quickly rearrange what we’re doing and how we’re structured to deal with today’s and tomorrow’s big challenges.

The question is:

How will you adapt? 

Find out how thinking agility—the ability to consciously shift your thinking when the situation requires it—can provide the antidote to an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. 

Whether you’re responsible for developing leaders, are a leader or aspire to be one, Ann Herrmann-Nehdi’s recent webcast for, 4 Steps to Developing the Thinking Agility of Today’s and Tomorrow’s Leaders, will give you strategies and actions you can immediately put into practice to claim the thinking space necessary to adapt and be more agile every day.

Here’s what one participant had to say about the webinar:

This was EXCELLENT! I love webinars that share a little bit of knowledge along with a lot of action items and resources in an organized fashion.

View the webinar and then share with us:

What are the few critical competences your organization needs to focus on to help people get mentally “unstuck” so they can adapt?


Leaders Not Listening? Use Your Head if You Want to Be Heard

I often hear business people say they’re having a hard time getting a “seat at the table.” Or they’re concerned that the leadership team isn’t “getting” their ideas or acknowledging the improvements they’ve made.

This struggle to prove the business value of what we’re doing is often rooted in a tendency to speak from our own thinking preferences rather than adjusting for the needs and expectations of senior business leaders.

And when it comes to how senior leaders think, some clear patterns have emerged. Our data has consistently shown that most C-level leaders have natural preferences that span the four quadrants of the Whole Brain® Model. That means if you want to build your credibility and get your ideas heard, you need to cover all the thinking bases:

  1. Make sure you have the facts that support your argument, idea or position. They expect data to back it up, and they’ll want to know things like, What are the technical aspects? Have we done the research? How do these numbers compare to our previous benchmarks?
  2. Do your homework and anticipate those little details that senior leaders always seem to bring up. What about timing? Is there a plan? A process? They’ll want to know they can count on you, and that you’ve thought through potential risks.
  3. Take steps to build rapport and show them what you stand for—even if that’s not something you feel naturally comfortable doing. They want to understand where you’re coming from and feel they can trust you.
  4. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. Context is critical for satisfying their strategic mindset. They’ll want to know: What does this mean for the long term? How does it fit into the overall strategy?

Leaders are looking at all of these areas, so they’re expecting you to have done this thinking work before you come to them. During the process, you might even find that you’re not quite ready to make the pitch — that waiting until you have more facts or a better strategic fit, for example, will make for a better case.

It takes a little advance preparation, but if you spend that time on the front end, you’ll have a better chance of making an impression and getting the response you’re looking for in the long run.

Watch this brief video to learn more about C-level thinking.


It’s Brain Awareness Week!

March 10th through the 16th is Brain Awareness Week (BAW), the global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. You can find plenty of activities and resources on brain-related topics on the official BAW website.

For quick tour of the brain’s four thinking preferences, click on the image below and watch as Ann Herrmann-Nehdi explains how you can apply what we know about thinking and the brain to be more effective at work.




Recent News on Thinking and the Brain






Some food for thought from the world of thinking this month:

  • Use your brain to get happier. Your career may require your mind to be on the lookout for problems, but there are also a few simple steps you can take to train your brain to be happy. After all, the “irrationally positive brain” can help motivate us to keep moving forward.
  • Our memory system is built to change, depending on what information is important at the moment. A new study has found that our brains rewrite our memories, and while this means our memories are less accurate, scientists believe this adaptive function is part of the continual learning process.
  • There’s beauty in mathematics, according to your brain. Research reveals that certain mathematical equations and formulas trigger a similar brain response as artistic and musical masterpieces, suggesting a potential neurobiological basis to beauty.

And finally, this month’s issue of National Geographic focuses on the latest scientific research and discoveries that are beginning to paint a clearer picture of how the brain works.

Find more news in this month’s BrainBytes® Newsletter, including:

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Snapshots from Training 2014

We had the opportunity to mix and mingle with some of the sharpest minds in the training profession at the Training 2014 Conference earlier this month in San Diego.

We enjoyed learning about the latest trends in training and development, and from our booth in the Expo Hall, we had a chance to catch up with a number of you who shared how Whole Brain® Thinking is playing a role in your development, performance and business strategies.

In case you missed it, Ann Herrmann-Nehdi presented two sessions at the conference, Getting More Done with Less: 4 Steps to Leadership Agility,” and “Thinking and Learning Agility: 10 Steps to Maximizing Learning Outcomes.” If you’d like more information about these topics, please let us know.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts: Agility, social learning, new technologies, employee engagement, measurement…What tops your training agenda for 2014?


Recent News on Thinking and the Brain

Some food for thought from the world of thinking this month:

  • Here’s one kind of multitasking that’s not a problem for your brain. While certain multitasking activities have been shown to reduce performance and productivity, visual sampling is one type of multitasking our brains seem to be able to handle well.
  • Brain scientists in England to work with schools on how to learn. Citing the need to address the “evidence gap” in applying neuroscience in learning, the Wellcome Trust and Education Endowment Foundation is funding the initiative to research how schoolchildren’s brains process information.
  •  How you practice affects how you learn. A new study suggests that the more time you spend trying to understand how something works, the better your learning outcomes. According to the researchers, “The study suggests that learning can be improved—you can learn more efficiently or use the same practice time to learn to a higher level.”

Find more news in this month’s BrainBytes® Newsletter, including:

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Are Your Leadership Development Efforts Paying Off?

$14 billion is a high price to pay when there’s very little to show for it in return, but that’s exactly what’s happening with many organizations’ leadership development programs, according to a new McKinsey article.

How can it be that so many companies are claiming leadership development is their number one concern and priority—and they’re investing literally billions of dollars a year into improving the capabilities of their leaders—yet a large majority of these programs are ultimately failing?

The article discusses the common mistakes that are sabotaging leadership development efforts—and many tie directly to what we know about the brain.

1.       These initiatives often “rest on the assumption that one size fits all and that the same group of skills or style of leadership is appropriate regardless of strategy, organizational culture, or CEO mandate.” In other words, they overlook context, and for the brain, context is everything.

Not only do different people have different learning and thinking preferences and therefore, different motivations, perceptions and approaches to work, different objectives and business requirements depend on different kinds of thinking. There has to be alignment at every level to connect people, strategy and development.

As we’ll be discussing in upcoming white papers, a foundation in thinking gives the brain the context it needs, and it also provides us with a common framework to build alignment.

2.       The article also notes that combining the opportunity for personal reflection and growth with real work experience can aid in training transfer. The challenge, though, when integrating leadership development into real-life, on-the-job projects is making sure leaders are mentally prepared for the stretch. Their thinking preferences, their stage within the leadership pipeline, and the requirements of the project itself all play a part. It’s up to those designing the initiative to recognize this and ensure the experience is energizing and confidence building rather than draining and confidence destroying. This may require additional tools and resources to help the leader grow outside his or her thinking comfort zones.

3.       “Underestimating mindsets” is a mistake we see all too often. Most training focuses primarily on behavior change, but mindsets get in the way of change and unless addressed correctly, will stop any change from ever taking place. Put simply, you can’t change behavior for long-term results without first understanding how people think and how to overcome the brain’s resistance to change.

4.       Finally, the article mentions several good ideas for overcoming the mistake of failing to measuring results. We would add that Return on Intelligence, which encompasses Return on Investment, Return on Initiative, Return on Interaction and Return on Innovation, is the ultimate ROI.

Because $14 billion is a big number, but it’s only part of the equation. In today’s world, we’re competing on knowledge, speed, execution, the ability to collaborate and generate new ideas… that’s what we need from our new and emerging leaders, and it all starts with their thinking.


Recent News on Thinking and the Brain







Some food for thought from the world of thinking this month:

  • Get visual to improve your memory. Work with your brain’s natural set-up so you won’t forget those hard-to-remember things.
  • Men’s and women’s brains are wired differently. This latest study found that male brains have more connections within hemispheres to optimize motor skills, whereas female brains are more connected between hemispheres to combine analytical and intuitive thinking. This is a topic we’ve also been exploring over the years. Read more about how you can leverage the differences in male and female brains.

Go here, to find more news in this month’s BrainBytes® Newsletter.


Are You Thinking About the Holidays?


















Take a moment to unplug, take a break and enjoy all the season has to offer.

Happy holidays from all of us at Herrmann International. We wish you the very best in the New Year.



Social, Sleep and Learning: Update from the 2013 NeuroLeadership Summit

Herrmann International’s CEO Ann Herrman-Nehdi filed a video report from this year’s NeuroLeadership Summit, where she was also a presenter.

Some highlights:

Matt Lieberman’s new book “Social” explores the impact of the social brain on everything we do. Key lessons for learning and development professionals:

  • When someone is learning to teach versus learning to memorize, it engages the brain in a way that is much more effective in terms of long-term retention. Consider this when designing learning experiences.
  • The discussion about the tension between the analytical brain and the social brain is substantiated by our HBDI® data. It’s rare to see both in play, and important for us to understand how to help leaders activate the social part of who they are.

Jessica Payne’s research on leadership stamina reinforces how important sleep is. If you feel sleep deprived, get 20 minutes more a day – go to bed earlier, sleep later or take a power nap if necessary to improve what you can get out of your brain.

Tony Bingham, President of ASTD, says that 70% of learning in today’s organizations is informal. What are you doing to build in more tools and opportunities for informal learning?

Watch the video to hear Ann’s full report.