Team Organization LO17264

David H. Sherrod (
Tue, 3 Mar 1998 09:15:46 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO16958 --

Rol Fessenden observes and asks:
> My conclusion is
> that the presence or absence of a leader is not a critical determinant of
> whether or not the team will succeed.
> Is there any speculation on what are the critical determinants of success?

I've already shared what the State of Ohio deems appropriate for teams.
While I agree with my previous post, if I may, I'd like to share some
thoughts I've been developing over the past few years.

A little background first...
There is an instrument "out there" called the "Herrmann Brain Dominance
Instrument," or HBDI. The creator, Ned Herrmann, worked at GE for many
years, and developed this instrument to assist in GE's training center -
for purposes of developing training appropriate for different "thinking
styles," or "modes of knowing," of GE employees.

Ned wrote two books on applying the information derived from HBDI-related
research to individuals and business. He makes a strong case (IMHO) for
creating "Whole-brained" teams - I.E., teams with representation from
each of the four main thinking styles. His model is a metaphoric model
of the brain, divided into left and right as well as cerebral and lymbic
(from the triune brain theory). Quickly,
Thinking Style (Preference) "A" (Left Brain, Cerebral) key descriptors:
Technical, Intellectual, Problem Solver, Authoritarian, Bottom Line
Orientation, Quality, Efficient, Logical, Factual, Critical, Rational,
Analytical, Quantitative, Financial.
Thinking Style (Preference) "B" (Left Brain, Lymbic) key descriptors:
Protective, Technical Leader, Tactical, Organized, Reliable, Punctual,
Traditional, Administrative, Detailed, Dominant, Articulate, Sequential,
Controlled, Conservative, Data Collector.
Thinking Style (Preference) "C" (Right Brain, Lymbic) key descriptors:
Reader, Personal intuition, Emotional, Talkative, Spiritual, Musical,
Expressive, Sensitive, Reaching Out, Harmony, People, Training, Teaching,
Interpersonal, Expressing Ideas.
Thinking Style (Preference) "D" (Right Brain, Cerebral) key descriptors:
Integrative, Conceptual, Change-Oriented, Strategic, Big Picture,
Synergistic, Spatial, Artistic, Synthesize, Simultaneous,
Solution Oriented Intuition, Creative, Innovative.

Okay, now to my stuff...
Based on what Ned presents, and my experiences over the past two years
in teams (some aware of HBDI concepts in varying degrees, others totally
unaware), high performing teams ARE equally represented by all the above
modes of knowing. Equally important, however, is that the members have
some understanding of, and appreciation for, different thinking styles.
(Teams without this understanding seem to perform worse(!) than lop-sided
teams (from the HBDI standpoint) IMHO.)

I also think that Senge's Personal Mastery is of key importance when
bringing the HBDI into a team environment. If team members are pursuing
an LO ideal, they can be more accepting of differing thinking styles
(perhaps because they recognize that people are pursuing the practice of
personal mastery). Moreover, Shared Vision and Team Learning can only
be significantly enhanced through the greater understanding of others which
comes from a greater understanding (and appreciation) of self - a seemingly
inevitable by-product of having completed the HBDI.

So, to answer Rol's question, I believe teams need equal thinking style
representation to be as successful as possible. A caveat, however:
When first putting people of different thinking styles together, they
may have trouble functioning as a group - with or without a leader,
because they won't communicate easily. Herrmann goes into this in
far more detail in his books, as well as explaining ways around it.
I've already taken Rol's question far off course, so I'll save a post
on that subject to another date (if someone's interested).

If you're interested in learning more about the HBDI, check out and
The prior is Herrmann International's home page (from where you
can take the HBDI yourself!), the latter is another fan (like myself)
of this instrument and the understanding it brings.

- David

David Sherrod
Project Team Leader


"David H. Sherrod" <>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>