Whole Brain Model

The Whole Brain Model is a framework for understanding and applying the way individuals think and process information. Developed by Ned Herrmann while he was a manager at General Electric, the model presents four distinct modes of thinking, each associated with a specific region of the brain:

  1. Rational Self (left cerebral hemisphere): This mode is logical, analytical, fact-based, quantitative.
  2. Safekeeping Self (left limbic system): This mode is sequential, organized, detailed, planned.
  3. Feeling Self (right limbic system): This mode is emotional, interpersonal, sensory, and kinesthetic.
  4. Experimental Self (right cerebral hemisphere): This mode is holistic, intuitive, integrating, and synthesizing.

These four quadrants are not meant to be rigid compartments but rather represent preferences or dominant modes of thinking. According to the model, everyone has access to all four quadrants, but individuals tend to prefer and use some quadrants more than others. [1]

The importance of the Whole Brain Model lies in its application to improve communication, decision making, problem solving, and team performance. By understanding our own thinking styles and those of others, we can adjust our communication and approach to be more effective.

In the history of psychology and neuroscience, the Whole Brain Model marked a shift from considering intelligence as a singular, linear quality to understanding cognitive capabilities as multifaceted and context-dependent.

Benefits of applying the Whole Brain Model include improved team collaboration, better understanding of customers, enhanced learning, and increased creativity and innovation. However, a potential drawback is the risk of oversimplification or stereotyping people based on their dominant quadrant.

For example, a project team might have members who excel in detailed planning (Safekeeping Self) while others are big-picture thinkers (Experimental Self). Understanding these different thinking styles can help the team leverage the strengths of each member, fostering a more effective and harmonious work environment.

See Also