Discover Your Brain Strengths to Navigate Life
It takes “whole-brain thinking” for our world to turn smoothly and move in a positive orbit. Unfortunately, the world seems to be wobbling unnecessarily, because too many people and leaders give disproportional attention to Sequential thinking, as the best way to solve our most vexing problems. If you are amongst the 17%, who are the world’s strong Global thinkers, you will relate to this potentially dangerous situation; if you are amongst the 39%, who are strong Sequential thinkers, you may be unaware of the consequences of relying too much on logical thinking patterns. The remaining 44% of the population have greater balance between Sequential and Global thinking; they play an important role in establishing dynamic balance, and helping strong Global and Sequential thinkers harness and leverage their brainpower in cooperative and collaborative ways.
Ground Rules for Whole-Brain Thinking
Overview of Whole-Brain Thinking
Whole-brain thinking begins and ends with Sequential processing, and the process repeats to achieve continuous learning and improvement. Global thinking processes are most often the missing link for creating refreshing and inspiring solutions to be developed sequentially into practical action plans.
Sequential thinking is a logical process that focuses on content, data, mathematics, sequence, order, practicality, memory, and historical trends. The world is quite adept at sequential thinking; while essential and valuable, it does not solve problems created by similar thinking. Sequential processing uses the present moment to think about the present situation, and draws upon the past for solutions
Global thinking, on the other hand, involves context, possibilities, and options not yet tried and tested; it’s looking ahead into the future and visualizing something that has not yet occurred. Global thinking, alone, does not create a practical and implementable action plan. Global processing uses the present moment to think about the present situation and looks ahead into the future for solutions.
The 4 Steps of Whole-Brain Thinking
Step 1: Forming your “whole-brain thinking” team is a Sequential process. The team is comprised of different sensory and cognitive thinking combinations (revealed in Brain PathWays reports and Team Profiles), coupled with diverse experiences, education, and points of view. The commonalties should be shared values and passion for the project. Remember: “The greater the diversity, the greater the potential.”
Step 2: Developing desired outcomes is mostly a Global process. The operative question is, “What are the overarching outcomes we want to achieve here?” It may be necessary for the team to discuss the current situation and the historical record; this is a Sequential process to get familiar and aligned with the situation. Reverse every problem and challenge, revealed by the situation, into a polar-opposite, positive outcome of what the team wants to experience, rather than what it doesn’t want.
Additional sequential questions are quality-control checks on the Global outcomes; they include: What are the metrics for tracking the progress of our desired outcomes? Who are the beneficiaries of the outcomes? Are there any losers? If so, will ill will degrade our reputation and peace of mind? Remember: “Describe what you want, not what you don’t want; otherwise you will strengthen the challenges of the current situation.”
Step 3: Creating the possibilities and options is the key Global-thinking step most often neglected in problem solving, product development, improvement programs, decision making, and strategic planning.
The best physical environment for Global thinking is a casual and attractive setting, with physically comfortable furniture, dim light, warm (not hot) temperatures, low background classical music (e.g., Mozart, Vivaldi), and refreshments or snacks available at all times. These environmental conditions stimulate the neocortex by lowering brain-wave frequency to the Alpha state, engendering super learning and creativity. It’s also important to have white boards, flip charts, or artist pads, and colored markers to record the group’s work. It’s highly advantageous to have a skilled, non-participating facilitator, and a person who will mind map the ideas.
Socratic questions are the guidance system for developing solutions that are directed toward the desired outcomes from Step 2. They include: What solutions come to mind? What are the possibilities and options here? Does our solution have a name (e.g. famous person, car, animal, food, tree, product, place, symbol, color, movie, book, or song)? These seemingly silly questions appeal to your Global-thinking nature; they create a fun atmosphere, and activate unknown, unexpected, and powerful insights. Isaac Singer, creator of the sewing machine got his inspiration for the sewing machine needle from a dream about natives carrying pointed spears with holes in the top. Remember: “Respect each person’s point of view, no matter how ‘way out’ or absurd their ideas may seem; with patience and non-judgment, all ideas, representing potential solutions, will be seen as equally valuable and connected to the desired outcomes.
Step 4: Developing the plan is a Sequential process that most people can relate to and accomplish with ease. The physical environment for Sequential work is opposite the laid-back environment for Global thinking. Sequential environments help you stay awake, alert, and focused on completing tasks in an orderly and accurate manner. The environment includes an ergonomic or straight-back chair at a desk/table, bright light, cooler temperatures, and refreshments/snacks limited to break times; these physical conditions help elevate brain frequency to the Beta state, which is ideal for high productivity.
The whole-brain thinking team now goes about the work of developing the plan by prioritizing and sequencing the ideas developed in Step 3. It’s recommended that all team members participate in this stage, with the strong Sequential thinkers taking the lead. Best practices of Sequential planning, implementation, and metrics are employed in this step. Remember: “Global ideas and possibilities need practical and realistic foundations to rest upon.”
In summary, whole-brain thinking is a cooperative and collaborative endeavor. It integrates and blends the best Global thinking about possibilities and options, with the best practices of Sequential planning and tactical implementation. Whole-brain thinking is a competency for better living, better business, and a better world. These four steps are repeated to achieve continuous learning and improvement. Remember: “Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” – John Wooden
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