Since March 13-19 is Brain Awareness Week (BAW), we thought it was the perfect time to compile a few of our favorite thinking-related tips and “brain hacks”—some “collected intelligence,” so to speak. And since we’re celebrating our 35th anniversary this year, we had a nice number to shoot for as we put together our list.
Start celebrating Brain Awareness Week with the 7 tips below, and then be sure to download the full list (at the end of this post) of 35 tips and ideas shared by our global network of HBDI® Practitioners and colleagues.
A big thanks to all the HBDI® Practitioners and Whole Brain® Thinking community members who contributed. This is just one example of what can happen when we put our heads together!
Get deliberate about your thinking with these 7 thinking tips and brain hacks:
1. Boost your productivity by paying attention to how you allocate your mental energy.
Think about how your energy levels fluctuate throughout the day as well as the kinds of thinking you most and least prefer (e.g., from your HBDI® Profile data). Now explore how you might (re-) structure your day for maximum productivity. For example, you might start the day by tackling the tasks you prefer the least, because that's when you have the most energy. You might also notice that doing the work you love will give you a "second wind" later in the day.
2. Use your thinking preferences to make frustrating activities more fun.
If you find certain activities frustrating or overwhelming, it might be because they rely on the thinking styles that you prefer the least. But you can make those activities more enjoyable by looking at them through your preferred thinking lens. Is filling out your productivity app yet another dreaded item on your to-do list? Try a handwritten list with different-colored highlighters to indicate meetings, project types, clients and hot priorities. Struggle with the visioning work involved in strategic thinking? Turn it into an analytical problem-solving activity by stepping into a specific point in the future and then analyzing the history that led to it.
3. Capitalize on cognitive diversity for smarter strategy.
To make strategy work, start by making sure your strategic teams have a diversity of thought represented. When the team members understand and value each other’s perspectives and know how to capitalize on their cognitive diversity, they’re better able to develop a clear differentiation strategy for the future, one that will contribute to terrific strategic intent, means and initiative statements. – Paul Gustavson, President and Founder, Organization Planning & Design, Inc., Author of “A Team of Leaders”
4. Resolve conflict by “walking around” the brain.
When conflict arises, do a quick “walk around” of the four quadrants of the Whole Brain® Model. Start with A: identifying what each person views as the facts. Then move to C: understanding each person’s feelings about what is happening. Next move to D: aligning on a future outcome, and finally, B: action steps to get there. Not only is this an effective process, it meets everyone’s needs in a conflict situation while also providing the opportunity for people to stretch their thinking.
5. Rethink failed fixes and solve new problems with backwards thinking.
Think about a “fix” to a problem that actually caused new or more problems. Now backwards-engineer the failed fix and do a Whole Brain® Walk-Around of the issues, placing them into the four quadrants. You might find that there were issues in each quadrant or specific quadrants that were overlooked due to the thinking preferences of those in the group or the leader. Apply that learning by using a Whole Brain® approach to fix the problem once and for all. – Dick Daft, Professor, Vanderbilt University Owen School of Management
6. Inject Whole Brain® Thinking into Design Thinking
Start by asking HMW (“How might we…?”) questions about a key challenge or issue, and make sure they visit all four quadrants. Try it with homogenous groups (all members with the same thinking preferences) as well as Whole Brain® teams. – Kimberly Douglas, President, Firefly Facilitation
7. Stretch your thinking by just doing it!
A great way to stretch to a less-preferred area of thinking is to pick an activity in that area and make it a habit to take part in it on a regular and frequent basis. Do it outside of your work so that you can view it as a hobby of sorts. Also look for conferences and training opportunities that are oriented to your desired stretch quadrant(s).
There's more where that came from—28 more to be exact.
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