How do you increase the efficiency of a group of people? How do you get more output from your existing human resources?
Those were the questions Charles G. DeRidder and Mark A. Wilcox examined as part of a six-year research study they conducted with the USDA Forest Service.
The premise of their study was that a diversity of thinking would help teams reach new performance benchmarks. Using the Whole Brain® Model as the foundation for their work, along with thinking style data from Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®) assessments, they documented significant improvements in efficiency and effectiveness when teams were designed to include a balance of thinking preferences.
Among their findings and lessons learned:
- Teams that are balanced in terms of thinking preferences are more effective; they consider more options and make better decisions.
- Whole Brained teams were 66% more efficient than homogenous teams.
- 70% or more of the teams were “successful” when Whole Brained vs. 30% or less when not.
- Size matters: 7 members is the ideal team size.
As DeRidder and Wilcox observed, if you want to break through to the next level of production and increase team productivity/efficiency, “The answer is clear: Organize mentally balanced teams that match the task.”
Download the full research report to read more about the study, methodology and outcomes: Improving Group Productivity: Whole Brain® Teams Set New Benchmarks
Watch: In this video, Ann Herrmann-Nehdi shares tips for improving team performance.
Ann Herrmann-Nehdi’s July 13th HR.com webcast, Getting More Done With Less: 4 Steps to Building Your Thinking Agility, is now available for on-demand viewing for HR.com members.
Ann reveals how you can apply what we know about thinking and the brain to better “see around corners” and harness the full brainpower available—your own as well as others’—to meet today’s mental demands while maintaining a more strategic mindset.
Here’s what people are saying about the presentation:
Best webinar I've attended yet - it kept me engaged the whole time!
She's an excellent speaker with a captivating voice. She gave a well prepared and skillful presentation.
Thank you for this information and new ways of trying to use my brain. Information was clear concise but oh so very useful. Additionally the extra tools provided will help me "focus" on ways of using this.
This was really informative and can be used to help my team also work better moving forward.
Let us know what you think! How will thinking agility play a role in your own or your team’s performance going forward?
NOTE: HR.com membership is free. Sign up or log in to access the full webinar and accompanying resources.
What does it take to be an effective leader in an age of information overload?
In an HR.com webinar last month, Ann Herrmann-Nehdi showed participants how to develop their leaders’ “mind management skills” so they can successfully navigate in an increasingly noisy and demanding environment. If you missed the session, or if you want to view it again and download the slides, the recording is now available on the HR.com website.
In this webinar, you’ll learn how to align leadership competencies with the type of nimble thinking skills that are critical in an age of smartphones, overflowing email inboxes and continual change. Ann gives you an easy-to-apply approach for helping your leaders get more strategic while getting more done.
Access the recording and handouts here:
NOTE: If you are already a member of HR.com, simply log in to access the webinar. If you are not a member, you will need to sign up for a free HR.com membership, which will take only a moment.
Once you have confirmation of your membership, you will be able to access recordings and register for other educational opportunities, including Ann’s upcoming HR.com webinar, Getting Buy-in for Your HR Initiatives: Applying C-Level Thinking for Faster and Better Results.
Recently over in our LinkedIn Group, someone asked how people tend to manage time according to their HBDI® Profile.
With so many of us being asked to do more with less and manage multiple streams of information and tasks, effective time management has become a necessity, and your HBDI® Profile gives you insights into how your thinking preferences impact the way you manage time.
In this video, Time Management the Whole Brain® Way, you’ll learn some tips for managing time based on your thinking styles.
If you’re an HBDI® Certified Practitioner, be sure to also visit the Practitioners Area of our website to download the slides, “Time Orientation and Time Management The Whole Brain® Way.” Go to the Practitioner Resources section and look under "General Information."
What are some of your best time management tips? How are you using what we know about the brain to get a better handle on time?
Karen Leland’s recent article in Chief Learning Office Magazine entitled The Time-Literate Organization is relevant to anyone who touches digital media today. In previous posts I have described how multi-tasking is actually a brain productivity killer. As a serial processing system, the brain is not designed to do two things at once. In the article, Karen cites some important statistics:
- On average workers spend only 10.5 minutes on a task before being interrupted.
- It takes an average of 23 minutes to return to the original task – not to mention the time required to mentally re-engage with the task to be effective.
- We are attempting to manage 15 projects a day (vs. 5 in the past).
- 50% of us are either handling too many tasks at one time or are frequently interrupted in the workday, or both.
- The typical executive spends 4.5 hours a week looking for lost papers.
The demands now placed on all of us are not only increasing the number of things we need to attend to, shortening the time we have available, but also increasing the complexity of the work, as the breadth of task types has exploded often beyond our “normal” scope and preferences. We are indeed living in The Era of And, but I believe we can make our brains more time literate by paying attention to our natural preferences and energy level.
I have started applying our research on Whole Brain® Thinking to better manage and deal with the never ending onslaught of items that hits my virtual desk. If you apply Archimedes Principle of Displacement, which states that when you choose to do something you are by default choosing to not do something else, you need to make intentional mental choices about where your time and mental energy will go.
Often we find ourselves doing things that we would rather do as opposed to what we have to do as part of our criteria in prioritization. For example, I know from my HBDI® Profile that I really prefer not to do administrative tasks, and they will often be those tasks that get relegated to the next day, later on or never.
Using the Whole Brain® Walk-Around, I sort my tasks into the types of mental requirements demanded by them. Next, from my HBDI® data, I know that my energy level is greatest late at night. My experience has shown me that I’m better off doing low-preference tasks (B) in the early morning timeframe and “rewarding myself” with high-preference tasks late in the day. I can use the late-at-night timeframe for those tasks that fall clearly in my strongest preference zones – more creative (D) and analytical tasks (A), as you can see from my profile.
What do you do to get through your digital onslaught? Try looking at your preferences and then walking around the brain to prioritize.
As spring begins to slowly emerge, I am reminded of the natural desire to do “spring cleaning.” We may do that for our homes, our closets or our offices, but do we do that for our minds?
Research on learning has shown that we need to clear some space to allow for new learning to occur. “Much of what we learn in a day, we don't really need to remember,” Chiara Cirelli, of the Center for Sleep and Consciousness says. “If you've used up all the space, you can't learn more before you clean out the junk that is filling up your brain.”
I know I have experienced that feeling of “my brain is full.” It happens even faster on a day when I am sleep deprived. There is a reason for that: Once again, sleep is one critical ingredient to our ability to refresh and renew our “learning space.” Many have shared with me that a full brain actually prevents them from sleeping, which just perpetuates the cycle.
What are some ways you can do some mental “spring cleaning?”
- Take a “brain dump” break once a day or at least one a week. Depending on your preference, it can be in the evening after a full day or in the morning to get organized, or both. Just writing the stuff down that is floating in your head can allow you to let it go and help move it onto long-term memory. It is even better if you keep a running priority list that you can review and update. (Whole Brain® Model “B quadrant” tip)
- Power up by taking a mini-walk, run or mental breather. Often the “noise” in our heads is the same information cycling around again and again. Just taking a five-minute physical break will send blood flow to your brain, and that’s often enough to flush out the clutter and allow you to refocus. (Whole Brain® Model “C quadrant” tip)
- Leverage technology. Use recorders, smartphones or your gadget of choice to capture a recurring thought for processing later or for filing in your brain dump list. (Whole Brain® Model “A quadrant” tip)
- Treat your brain to some escape. Daydream, take a powernap or listen to some music to calm your thinking and give it a rest. It does not take much to shift your brain state. (Whole Brain® Model “D quadrant” tip)
Oh, by the way, don’t wait for Spring!
In January 7th’s webinar for Training Magazine Network, Ann Herrmann-Nehdi discussed the “4 Secrets of the C-Level Brain,” showing attendees how they can apply some specific tools and techniques based on Whole Brain® Thinking to get more strategic AND get more done.
You can access the recording of the webinar as well as additional downloads and resources by becoming a member of the Training Magazine Network (free registration required) and joining Ann’s group, Secrets of the CEO Brain, where the discussion about thinking strategically continues.
From “hyperthinking” to narrow thinking, participants have revealed many obstacles that are getting in the way of a more strategic perspective. What is the biggest challenge to YOUR ability to think strategically?
Stress. It’s hard to avoid in tough times. How you manage that stress, though, is up to you. Get a handle on it instead of letting it control your thinking.
Tip 3: It’s Your Stress, Baby! Stress impedes our brain’s growth and slows the recovery of our immune system (6 minutes stress = 6 hours recovery from it, Leonard Ingram – Anger Institute of Chicago). Own your stress to keep your Whole Brain® working for you.
Own stress by:
- Recognizing that it is part of life and we have to learn to manage it…and stop complaining about it.
- Acknowledging and naming how we change under stress.
- Helping each other by sharing that information so we can empathize and be supportive. If you’ve completed the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®), you can use your profile data to support this process.
- Finding ways to leverage the energy our and others’ stress creates in positive ways.
- Choosing to react differently! Sometimes, not always, it is a choice. Watch for triggers, and seek out people and places that calm you.
- Family life can be stressful. Check out Susie Weller’s work on Whole Brain® Parenting for useful tips.
- Fear is often part of our stress. Use Susie’s 5 F’s to better approach fear (Face, Feel, Focus, Frame, Forgive).
Our brains are full no matter what we say or do—and it’s only getting worse! Quieting our brains is key to maintaining productivity. You can spend a small amount of time upfront to gain a huge payoff that comes from avoiding wasted energy, unproductive activity and costly, time-draining mistakes.
Tip 2: Be Mindful vs. Mind-full: While it may seem like the fastest way to results, multitasking has actually been proven to decrease our effectiveness. We can experience up to 50% loss in productivity and a 50% increase in error rates when we multitask.
Take control of your own thinking by:
- Quieting your mind for 5-10 minutes each day to decide what you will focus on.
- Resisting the addictive and recurring “PDA nod” that draws you to check your email every 5 minutes. If something cannot wait 90 minutes for a response, then something is wrong at a deeper level: either you’re not doing your job as a manager or your manager is not doing their job!
- Write down what you’re hearing to focus your brain on listening rather than drifting or disagreeing in your own head.
These are small, upfront investments in mindful thinking that take a minimal amount of time to do, and they really do work. Try it!