10 Quick Tips to Boost Productivity During Brain Awareness Week

Here are 10 tips to boost productivity during Brain Awareness Week

When it comes to productivity, your brain is your best ally—but are you ignoring the most important signals it’s sending?

Considering this week is Brain Awareness Week, now’s a good time to start paying attention to your mental energy and learning how to manage it to boost your productivity.

After all, it’s hard to be productive when your mental reserves are tapped, and today’s energy-draining environment is fighting you at every step. The typical response to declining energy and productivity levels is to try time management techniques so that you can catch up and stay on top of your workload. But most of those techniques are destined to fail when your energy level falls through the floor.

Increase productivity for Brain Awareness Week in less than 38 hours a day

Instead of thinking of productivity as a time management challenge, try viewing it as an energy management issue. Because while you can’t recover time—those wasted hours are gone forever—you can recover energy.

And here’s where your brain comes into the equation.

We often let this phenomenon of energy gain and drain happen by accident, but your own mental processes play a huge role in your energy throughout the day—at work, at home and with every person you meet. In fact, your energy levels have a lot more to do with what happens inside your head than what happens outside. Becoming conscious and intentional about this aspect of your life can unlock new levels of productivity. The key is to manage your mental filters, not your time. Read more

3 Strategies for Increasing Mindfulness and Productivity

3 Strategies for Increasing Mindfulness and Productivity

In our always-on/always-connected environment, between work and family, texts and emails, new demands and ongoing change, most of us are feeling like our brains are full.  And yet the constant stream keeps coming. It may seem unrealistic to hit the off switch, but we’re hoping to at least find a pause button.

This is one reason for the growing interest among business, HR and talent leaders in mindfulness and deep thinking, practices that just a few years ago would have seemed completely at odds with what it takes to be successful in business.

But whether you’re responsible for helping others develop and grow, managing people and projects, or just managing yourself, it’s easy to see how the distractions of the modern world are taking a toll, not just on performance, productivity and morale but also on people’s health and well being.

How can our businesses continue to thrive if we aren’t able to put our best thinking to work?

In fact, mindfulness is being aware of what’s going on in your brain. This is far different than being “mind-full”—letting your brain get so full that you feel overwhelmed by information.

Here are three strategies anyone can apply to increase mindfulness and become more productive as a result. Read more

Comparing Assessments: How to Get the Results You Need

On a fairly regular basis, you can find articles on the Internet comparing (and often taking to task) the multitude of personality assessments and behavioral tests that are now available.

With so many tools and instruments floating around, and so many similar-sounding labels to categorize people, it’s hard to tell how each differs and whether or not they’re appropriate for your business purposes.

When comparing assessments, we’ve found one of the best places to start is by understanding the premise, which is the foundation on which something is constructed. In terms of an assessment, the premise affects what information people will gain from it.

For example, although the HBDI® assessment sometimes gets lumped in with theoretical personality type tests, it is, in fact, a brain-based assessment. Its premise—that we all have a brain, we just each use ours differently—answers the question, “How do I process information?”

Here are three other key questions to consider when looking at different assessment instruments:

1. Is it validated? This will give you clues as to how likely it is the assessment will measure what it says it measures, produce consistent results and get buy-in, both from those who take it and from the organization. The HBDI® is validated in key areas such as test/retest reliability, internal construct reliability and face reliability, while many other assessments are not.

2. Is there a potential for stereotyping or other limiting behaviors? Even with the best intentions, categorizing people as a “this” or a “that” can become divisive and de-motivating. Look for positive models that emphasize personal accountability. For example, with its brain-based foundation, Whole Brain® Thinking shows people that while there are some    areas we each may be less comfortable with, none of us is limited in what we can do—and that means there are no cop outs!

3. Was it designed for business application? The vast majority of assessments were created for individuals and are focused on raising awareness. While there can be benefits from this on a personal level, if you’re looking for business results and ROI, the key is application: Is this something people can and will use every day to drive the results you need?

This gap was one of the reasons Ned Herrmann originally developed the HBDI® and Whole Brain® Model while he was in charge of management education at GE-Crotonville. He needed an approach people could quickly use to solve problems in a business environment, and to get the most benefit, he wanted to make sure it was scalable and applicable to business in ways other assessments aren’t. That’s why he designed the HBDI® to describe individual and team preferences as well as a wide variety of mental processes, from customer viewpoints to corporate culture.

Many companies and consultants will use a variety of different assessments based on specific goals and objectives. Here’s a great resource for understanding the similarities and differences in various assessment instruments and how to get the most benefit when using multiple assessments together.

In addition, several years ago we assembled a panel of practitioners and business leaders to discuss their experiences using different assessments. You can access the recording of that webinar here.



How Do Assessment Instruments Compare?

When we talk to people about the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®), a few questions invariably come up:

  • Does the HBDI® measure the same thing as [XYZ] assessment?
  • How is the HBDI® profile different from [XYZ] profile?
  • Can the HBDI® be used along with [XYZ]?
  • If we use an additional assessment, will it confuse people?

Understanding the premises of different assessments can help answer these questions. A premise is the foundation on which something is constructed, and it affects what information the person will gain from the assessment.

Common premises include:

  • A thinking preferences brain-based assessment considers: “How do I process information?” (The HBDI® is a brain-based assessment.)
  • A talent/interest/career assessment considers: “What are my natural talents and interests?”
  • A psychologically based assessment considers: “What does this mean about me?”
  • A behavior-based assessment considers: “How do others perceive me?”

While each type of assessment provides unique information, there are also some similarities between different assessments. Be aware that using multiple assessments can create confusion if you don’t provide a clear explanation, especially since some use similar colors, letters, names or numbers. And ultimately, even though there is some overlap, assessments based on different premises will have limited compatibility with each other because each provides information that describes the person in the language and terminology of its premise.

This doesn’t mean assessments can’t be used together. It just means you need to make sure people understand what they’re gaining from each and how they can apply this information in a business context. Because most employees are going to be more interested in how they can apply the information and less concerned about the differences and similarities.

To make sure you and your employees get the application and outcomes you’re looking for, start with these key questions:

  1. Does the information pigeonhole people, or does it show them they can stretch outside their self-imposed limits? When an assessment reveals potential instead of boundaries, there are no cop-outs or excuses—people understand they have the power and personal accountability to go beyond their blind spots. It’s also a more positive learning experience that avoids perpetuating stereotypes.
  2. Was the assessment originally designed and intended for problem solving in business, or is it more of an awareness-raising tool? While an awareness-raising tool can be interesting and helpful on a personal level, application is where the rubber meets the road. If people don’t see the connection to business and aren’t using the concepts in their daily work, you won’t get the Return on Intelligence®.
  3. Is it validated? Many assessments make a sudden, high-profile splash on the scene only to disappear just as quickly, often because they don’t have the validity to back them up. Key areas of validation to look for are test/retest reliability, face validity and internal construct reliability.
  4. Is it scalable and broadly applicable, with the ability to describe things like processes, viewpoints and other business issues? The more ways it can be used as a way of doing business, the faster it will become part of the culture—and the greater the positive impact on the organization.

The differences and similarities are important, but remember, the more time spent on application, the greater the likelihood the assessment information will be used. Without application, there’s little benefit.

What do you look for in selecting an assessment?

Research Reveals Keys to Increasing Team Productivity

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.

Podcast Explores Whole Brain® Thinking Applications to Project Management

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In a recent interview posted on the Guerrilla Project Management blog, Ann Herrmann-Nehdi shared insights on how the Whole Brain® system can be used to improve project management processes and outcomes.

The Guerilla Project Management blog explores topics related to the mindset Project Managers must adopt to be able to effectively manage today’s complex projects.

In a lively conversation with blogger and Certified Project Management Professional Samad Aidane, Ann explains that projects often fail not because of lack of effective project management processes, tools, and techniques but rather because of the quality of thinking that gets in the way of applying them on our projects.

She discusses how Whole Brain® Thinking can help project managers and their teams better understand and leverage their preferred thinking styles to reduce conflict and misunderstandings, accelerate project timelines, and get better results. She also explores the results a Danish municipality, Slagelse Municipality, has achieved by incorporating the Whole Brain® system into its project management approaches.

Listen to the podcast:

Herrmann’s Whole Brain® Thinking Model for Project Management

Top Young Talent Looking for a Good Mentor

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How will organizations succeed in attracting the next brightest minds? By paying attention to their development.

That’s the conclusion of a recent Business Insider article, which references the results of recent global surveys by PricewaterhouseCoopers, explaining that Generation Y employees consider training and development to be a more important benefit than cash bonuses.

PwC’s Millenials Survey also found that 98% of millenials believe having a strong mentor is critical for their development.

It’s no surprise, then, that there has been a resurgence of interest in workplace mentoring programs recently. But it’s not as simple as setting up a mentoring program. Whether or not a mentor pair is successful is highly dependant on the effectiveness of the mentor-mentee match.

A great example is the work that HBDI® Certified Practitioner Lynne Krause has done in creating mentor pairs based on HBDI® Profile data.

Through her work with the US Naval Command and others, Lynne found that matching mentors and mentees with similar thinking preferences led to better communications, faster bonding and increased trust. The result is longer lasting and more mutually beneficial mentoring relationships.

In the US Naval Command project (which is described in this case study), matching mentors and mentees based on their thinking preferences led to a 99% success rate in terms of the pair “sticking,” a huge improvement over the previous success rate of just 50%.

Lynne explained how it works in a recent THINC™ Webinar, Match Point: Creating Mentor Pairs That Go The Distance. If you missed it, you can still view the recorded webinar to learn some of the tools and methods she uses to build successful mentoring, coaching and development programs with a foundation in Whole Brain® Thinking and the HBDI® assessment.

Looking for more on Generation Y? Check out these on-demand webinars:

 Access our full library of recorded THINC™ Webinars.

Learnings From The Leadership Challenge Forum Conference

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Orin Salas, VP of Sales for Herrmann International, checked in from The Leadership Challenge (TLC) Forum in Chicago.

 175 people attended The Leadership Challenge (TLC) Forum Conference this year, with participants from across the US, Canada, the UK and Asia. It was a good, enthusiastic group of people who are certified in the TLC methodology or are users of the materials.

On Thursday morning, Ann Herrrmann-Nehdi and I attended several sessions including the kick-off by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, the leaders of TLC. There were several breakout sessions featuring companies using TLC methodology. 

The afternoon started with the Chicago Comedy Company leading us through a number of improvisational activities in a session entitled, “The Improvisational Leader.” They did a good job of connecting the activities back to the business challenges leaders face.

And with that as an introduction, Ann took the stage for the final presentation of the day, her keynote, “It’s Not Left Brain or Right Brain, It’s Whole Brain®.”

The group took a few minutes to warm up, but less than 10 minutes into her presentation, Ann had full participation. She led them through some background information about the brain, connected thinking preferences to leadership competencies, and reviewed the Whole Brain® Model, exploring how Whole Brain® Thinking is becoming even more critical for leadership success in today’s business environment. As always, the participants were wowed by the handouts and the tools they received.

Friday began with focus groups discussing the future of leadership and development. The groups touched on topics such as virtual leadership, technology, technology etiquette, generational challenges and the “size” of learning. This was followed by an interesting presentation on emotional quotient (EQ) and emotional intelligence. 

All in all, it was a learning-filled two days in Chicago with plenty of opportunity for best practice sharing and knowledge exchange about how to develop leaders in an increasingly complex world.

For other participants’ take on the event, you can search the Twitter hashtag #TLCForum11 and read the live updates at @TLCTalk.

Time Management the Whole Brain® Way

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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?