Diversity of thought: What are the different types of thinkers?

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Diversity is more than skin deep, it also includes different thinking preferences.
Diversity is more than skin deep, it also includes different thinking preferences.

As business tasks grow more complex, there are two essential tools all their leaders need in their arsenal. They must be:

1) Bringing together the optimal balance of thinking to get the best solutions
2) Equipping their employees with the tools they need to fully leverage their brain power.

In short, they need diversity of thought.

It makes sense when you think about it. Our research shows that teams with more thinking diversity are more effective and productive than teams with "homogenous" thinking.

Diverse thinking preferences means there are more ideas generated, tighter alignment to goals and strategy, open collaboration and passion and better planning and execution.

What is diversity of thought?

In order to link diversity to business results, we must think beyond race, gender, and ethnicity. Otherwise your diversity and inclusion efforts are only skin deep.

Our research shows that not only does diversity of thought exist in every person and in every organisation or group, the data consistently proves that when the size of the group is large enough, there will be a well-balanced distribution of individual thinking preferences across the four quadrants of the Whole Brain® Model.

In other words, nearly every group- your employees, your customers, your vendors, the world – represents the full breadth of thinking; all thinking preferences are represented.

The implications? No matter who you hire and who you serve, and no matter what kinds of products or services you provide, it's imperative that all thinking preferences are considered.

If you want to fully engage your employees and truly meet the wants and needs of your current and future customers, you have to not only be inclusive but also take a Whole Brain® approach to your inclusion efforts.

The diversity of thought within our organisations is one of the best resources available for thriving in this new reality. This has been proven through our work with thousands of organisations around the globe facing critical business challenges.

A six-year study at the U.S. Forest Service added valuable insights: Teams that are balanced in terms of thinking preferences are more effective; they consider more options and make better decisions.

The study also found that when faced with a complex challenge, whole-brained teams were 66 per cent more efficient than homogeneous teams.

What are the different types of thinkers?

Okay, so we know diversity of thought is good but what does it really look like?

Without a clear and simple methodology, it can get quite confusing. That's why the HBDI® exists. It first measures your employee's preferences, then using Whole Brain® Thinking we help support the ongoing application of thinking diversity to ensure your success.

The Whole Brain® Model presents us with four quadrants of thinking preferences.

Quadrant A: Blue

Blue quadrant thinkers love the facts. In a meeting, they want you to get straight to the point. Their brains are more prone to logic and analytics and they enjoy anything that can be quantified.

Quadrant B: Green

Our green quadrant thinkers are practical above all else. They thrive with organisation and planning. Chances are these are the people that request an agenda before any meeting and insists on being given as much detail as necessary to make an informed decision.

Quadrant C: Red

Red thinkers want to talk about how your weekend went before you jump into the nitty gritty of the meeting. These are your people-focused employees. They are feelings-based and can read the mood of a room faster than most. They like to think about how any new initiative would make the staff feel before making a call.

Quadrant D: Yellow

Lastly, we have our experimental thinkers. Yellow quadrant thinkers have a strong sense of intuition. They have a tendency to look at the big picture and for that reason they are adept at finding holistic solutions to business problems. These are the thinkers you want in the room when you are mapping out long-term visions.

It's important to remember that everyone has access to all four quadrants but to varying degrees. Applying Whole Brain® Thinking means being able to fully leverage one's own preferences, stretch to other quadrants when necessary, and adapt to and take advantage of the preferences of those around you to improve performance and results.

What should you do with thinking diversity?

But there's more to success than just having diversity of thought. After all, we know it exists in every organisation and, indeed, in every individual. If you want to reap the benefits, there are specific best practices to follow.

1. Work to understand it.

A validated instrument like the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®) assessment is critical for understanding individual thinking preferences as well as the thinking preferences of teams or groups.

It also provides hard data that you can use to more strategically align thinking resources with business objectives and challenges. When innovation, creativity and complex problem solving are priorities, a diverse team with appropriate tools and management will outperform a homogeneous team.

2. Embrace and leverage it

The most successful organisations build a culture that goes beyond tolerating thinking differences to embracing and leveraging them. This means that everyone needs to recognise how and why diversity of thought contributes to overall objectives, and team members have to be able to communicate effectively across differences, regardless of their preferences.

Individuals and teams can dramatically improve the quality of their problem-solving and decision making when all the thinking assets available are effectively applied. This requires an upfront investment to get the teams prepared, but it's worth it.

3. Manage it

Leaders and managers play a pivotal role in making sure an organisation gets the benefits of differences rather than ending up with conflict. Diverse teams without proper management tools like the HBDI® and well-developed skills to manage its application can quickly devolve into chaos.

The more diverse a team, function or division is, the more important it is to have a skilled leader who can manage, facilitate and incorporate Whole Brain® Thinking practices within the team and organisation, while at the same time driving strategy toward specific business goals.

Ready to get started?

Herrmann is here to help set you on the right path to true diversity in your organisation.

We work with you to understand the core of your business' thinking preferences and then craft a solution that delivers powerful results to your teams and organisation. All of our solutions fall into this 3-step model:

  1. Diagnostic: Assessments for individuals, teams and organisations to measure how you think as individuals and teams as you interact with the world around you
  2. Insight: Workshops and content to enable the understanding and recognition of how thinking preferences influence our interaction with individuals, teams, organisations and information.
  3. Application: Tools, processes and advisory to help thinkers apply Whole Brain® Thinking to leverage cognitive diversity to adapt and achieve ongoing, desired results

Want to learn more? Contact a Whole Brain® Strategist to help you with your needs or read some of our customer testimonials below!