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How Do You Measure Success?

Fall has arrived, and that means many of us are taking stock and planning for the future. How do you gauge your successes? And where do you go from here?

It’s a topic Ned Herrmann thought about a lot, particularly as he looked at the journey of his own life and career. What follows is an excerpt from an article he wrote on “Rethinking Success.”

As you evaluate your own successes, as well as those of your team, employees, company or even your personal life, consider how your thinking preferences might affect your view. How might you expand your definition of success? How might failure contribute to future successes?

 

Suppose somebody asked you how you personally measure success. What would first come to mind? Would it be wealth and the trappings of wealth in our culture, such as a house? Car? Boat? Vacation home? College?

Do you think there is a culture where success is measured on the basis of the level of spirituality achieved? How about always doing things on time? Or putting enough salt on the movie theater popcorn to increase drink sales?

Would it be possible to live in a culture where equal levels of success can be achieved in a variety of ways? A golf pro? A thoracic surgeon? A kindergarten teacher? A university professor? A chief executive officer? A minister? A poet? A circus clown? A mountain climber? An architect?

The list extends to infinity, and each one of these vocations or avocations has its own success potential. Achievement could be based on financial performance, on-time delivery of a project, or facilitating a management workshop that results in needed change. Celebrating 50 years of a happy marriage qualifies, as does being named Teacher of the Year, or being a syndicated political cartoonist.

Even though these represent very different kinds of success, the comparative levels of achievement could be relatively equal. Delivering a high percentage of outstanding sermons might be just as success-worthy as winning a professional golf tournament, winning a big contract or running your business at an increased level of profit. Helping children and adults discover “who they will be when they grow up” is, in every way, as worthy as developing a life-saving medical breakthrough.

Since I believe the world is an equally distributed composite of four distinct thinking preferences, I have found it clarifying to diagnosis success in four different ways:

  1. Those among us who prefer logical, analytical, rational thinking processes like to measure success on the basis of quantifiable performance, such as money: How much? When? For how long?
  1. People who prefer organized, sequential, structured, detailed thinking processes tend to measure success in terms of on-time completion of an event: Did it happen the way it was supposed to? Efficiently? On budget? Were the proper steps followed/completed? Was it legal and ethical?
  1. People who prefer an interpersonal, emotional, humanistic way of thinking apply “softer” measures of success, such as: Were relationships improved? Did meaningful communications take place? Was learning achieved? Was help provided? Was happiness achieved?
  1. Those who prefer conceptual, imaginative, intuitive modes of thinking typically measure success in terms of solving problems and achieving creative “Ahas!” They value achievements that are unique, future oriented and global in concept, particularly when they involve overcoming risks to get there.

Success is frequently a combination of these four different thinking preferences, but in most cases, one particular preference takes the lead and determines how success is measured for that person.

Success can also be highly varied in terms of rewards and recognition, but in most cases, that determination is in the eye of the achiever. That particular accomplishment for that person, at that time, represents success for them personally, and it’s not in competition with another person’s success.

It is my belief that ultimate success for each of us is a combination of personal health, well-being and happiness. Easy to say, but often difficult to achieve.

In the meantime, perhaps we should all recognize and honor different types of success in ourselves and others, each and every day. We may be happier for it.

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.

 

 

“Thinking Managers” More Critical Than Ever

 

In his groundbreaking book, The Creative Brain, Ned Herrmann wrote about the important move to Whole Brain® management as a necessity for business survival and success. The primarily left-mode thinking (A and B quadrants of the Whole Brain® Model) prevalent in most organizations’ leadership teams would hold them back, he warned, because:

The right brain (especially D quadrant) is the only part of our brains that deals effectively with change. As essential as left-modes are to business success, they spell slow death for a company when used without the right-brain modes…If change is constant, in order to compete effectively in a world characterized by change, business managers must function in all four of the brain’s different modes, right as well as left, upper as well as lower.

 Today, we’re seeing this play out almost to the extreme. Managers at all levels are requiring increased agility to deal with a level and pace of change, complexity and uncertainty that’s even more intense than it was when Ned first wrote about it.

 But what exactly is Whole Brain® management? Ned emphasizes that it’s not about de-emphasizing the left modes of thinking or putting the right modes into “exclusive ascendance.” It’s also not about mentally restructuring the corporation:

What I do mean is this: When designing and implementing responses to business issues and challenges, the human brain functions at its most innovative, productive best only when all four quadrants engage situationally and iteratively in the process.

 In mental terms, this means no organization that restricts its mental options to A and B quadrants alone can hope to prevail over the organization that uses A, B, C and D.

 For managers, in particular, that means realizing “that we function situationally—that we have equal access to all four [styles of thinking] so that when the situation calls for a given type of mental function, we can give it our best response.”

 Check out our recent white paper, Navigating in an Unpredictable and Complex World: Why Thinking Agility is Critical to a Manager’s Success, for tips and strategies to help today’s managers use their own—and others’— thinking in the most optimal way.

Because the more things change, the more we need Whole Brain® management!

Developing High Potentials? Here’s Why Thinking Has Everything to Do With It

Companies are increasingly optimistic about growth, according to new research from Right Management. That’s the good news.

The bad? “Only 6% of companies in the Americas say, ‘We have an ample leadership pipeline that will cover most of our needs.’” (“Trends in Talent Management: Employers Optimistic on Growth but Lack of ‘Ready Now’ Leaders will Impede Success,” Right Management)

Coming out of the layoffs and restructurings of recent years, organizations are starting to see better results, but now they’re dealing with another issue: a talent gap. This talent gap is colliding with a changing business landscape—one that will place new demands on the leaders of the future.

So what can organizations do to start “growing their own” to step up to leadership?

The first task is to recognize that thinking, as Ned Herrmann would say, has everything to do with management.

In his book, The Creative Brain, he spoke of the need for managers to be able to engage all modes of thinking, depending on the demands of the situation, explaining, “When designing and implementing responses to business issues and challenges, the human brain functions at its most innovative, productive best only when all four quadrants [of thinking styles as depicted in the Whole Brain® Model] engage situationally and iteratively in the process…”

This description—a call for Whole Brain® Thinking as a way to be more agile in leadership—has never been more relevant than today. Consider:

  • As the environment continues to change, up-and-coming leaders will have to get comfortable with unpredictability and be able to shift their thinking in a moment’s notice.
  • As they move through the leadership pipeline, they’ll have to deal with a variety of different mental demands, many of which will require them to stretch outside their own mental comfort zones.
  • In the midst of more noise and complexity, but less time to develop people, HR, talent management and training professionals will have to find more brain-friendly ways to engage learners, understanding what they need and how to best deliver it.

What are you doing to make sure Whole Brain® Thinking is part of your high-potential development strategies?

Is A Survival Mentality Holding Your Business Back? Free Chapter Download

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For the past few years we’ve heard a lot about what businesses need to do to survive through the recession and survive in the new economic environment we’ve entered. 

No question, these strategies have been helpful and important. But it’s equally important to remember that, although operating in survival mode can keep heads above water, it’s only a short-term solution. And this short-term mentality impacts companies even when it’s not related to tough economic conditions.

Businesses focused on making the leap to the next stage of growth often find themselves in a similar situation. The very mentality that helped them get where they are may be keeping them from getting where they want to go.

Brain research has shown that the kind of thinking that’s essential for short-term survival actually hinders long-term growth and development. In an unpublished chapter originally written for The Whole Brain® Business Book, Ned Herrmann, founder of Herrmann International, addressed this topic as it relates specifically to the dilemma that many businesses face as they attempt to move from infancy to maturity.

In “Short-Term/Long-Term Leadership: Survival of the Fittest,” he notes that, in terms of the Whole Brain® Model, companies often start with an emphasis on D-quadrant thinking about the future and possibilities. But pressing business realities quickly intervene, and cash flow becomes the immediate concern. Leaders discover they must shift to left-mode, A- and B-quadrant thinking to deliver products and services and generate cash quickly.

In short, they suppress entrepreneurial thinking in favor of operational action.

While this approach makes sense for a business in its infancy, it often perpetuates itself long after because left-mode thinking becomes part of the management culture.

The same thinking that kept the business alive up to this point now threatens to kill it.

For the business to thrive, Ned explains, leaders have to become more agile in their thinking and to be able to apply situational Whole Brain® leadership thinking.

You can download the full chapter here: Short-Term/Long-Term Leadership: Survival of the Fittest

 

Whole Brain® Thinking In Action: Contest Winners!

We asked and you delivered.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our recent blog contest about the organizing principle of the brain and contributed to the list of ways Whole Brain® Thinking can be applied.

The list keeps growing, and even though the contest has ended, we hope you’ll continue to come back to the post and add your thoughts and ideas about how you’re driving the Whole Brain® Advantage and how that’s fueling success in your work and personal life.

In the meantime, the lucky winners…

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Congratulations to commenter number 6, Andy Radka, and commenter number 4, Mary Simpson, who each won an HBDI® Profile Board!

The Organizing Principle of the Brain (And Our Latest Blog Contest!)

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Ned Herrmann, founder of Herrmann International, wrote that the Whole Brain® Model is a metaphor for an organizing principle of how the brain works.

Wikipedia defines an organizing principle as “a core assumption from which everything else by proximity can derive a classification or a value. It is like a central reference point that allows all other objects to be located.”

When you consider the brain as an organizing principle, you begin to realize how many ways Whole Brain® Thinking can be applied and how far-reaching the applications are for driving the Whole Brain® Advantage, both in work and in personal life.

In fact, over the years Ned came up with quite a list:

40 Ways to Drive the Whole Brain® Advantage
Under the Organizing Principle of the Brain

Advertising
Applied Creative Thinking
Boredom
Career Orientation
Coaching
Communication
Counseling
Creative Problem Solving
Customer Service
Decision Making
Family Relationships
Group Process
Health
Human Resource Development
Innovation
Investing
Job Design
Leadership Development
Learning
Learning Design
Management Development
Marketing
Marriage
Meeting Design
Organization Design
Organization Effectiveness
Personal Growth
Post-Merger Integration
Process Design
Product Design
Project Management
Sales
Sports
Strategic Thinking
Task Force Creation
Teaching & Training Delivery
Team Building and Bonding
Time Management
Workshop Design
Writing

Now we want to know what you think (and we have a terrific prize for two lucky commenters!):

1. What would you add to this list?
2. Which one application do you think will be most important to organizational success in 2011?

Leave a comment with your answers, and you could win a free HBDI® Profile Board. The Profile Board is a great tool for reinforcing the application of Whole Brain® Thinking and organizing team activities and interactions around a central reference point of Whole Brain® Thinking.

This is your opportunity to contribute to the collective intelligence of the Whole Brain® Thinking community! We’ll publish the updated list in a future issue of our BrainBytes™ newsletter.

Two winners will be selected by random drawing from comments on this blog entry related to the questions above. Contest is open until March 18, 2011.