The ‘Whole Brain’ Thinking Explained: A fireside chat with Dr. Kobus Neethling, Dr. Rache Rutherford, and Dr. Deep Bali – Part I
Over two decades ago, world-renowned ‘Whole Brain’ expert Dr. Kobus Neethling began studying styles of thinking when he developed instruments that could map someone’s entire brain.
That was a stunning breakthrough – the discovery meant that individuals could now become aware of how they have crafted their lives including some critical decisions based on their brain preferences or thinking styles. Leveraging the whole brain is a technique which enables CXOs, leaders and team members of organizations to seamlessly navigate dimensions other than their natural preference to garner significantly superior results in the area of strategy, sales, creativity, innovation, decision making, and impactful communication.
The results were a testament that indeed, the Neethling Brain Instruments (NBI®) that Dr. Neethling pioneered, was a remarkable tool for both leaders and organizations to stretch each individual in the organization and the organization itself to their ultimate desired goals.
Dr. Deep Bali, CEO & Managing Partner, Recalibrate, sat down with Dr. Neethling, founder of the Kobus Neethling Group, and Dr. Rache Rutherford, co-founder of the Creativity Foundation and member of the Kobus Neethling Group, in South Africa recently for a fireside chat about the magic of the whole brain thinking and its remarkable impact for individuals and organizations. Here are the highlights:
Dr. Rutherford explains that the ‘Whole Brain’ concept essentially breaks down the brain into eight dimensions and quadrants mapping its profile into thinking dimensions. The dimensions on the left side, for example, correspond to people whose thinking styles can be described as being more analytical, realist, organized (action person), and preservation-oriented (someone who works with tried and tested methods). While the right side of the brain is found to be most dominant among people who are strategists, driven by ideas, imagination, people-oriented, and socializers.
The biggest mistake that companies make is that they approach all people as the same, says Dr. Rutherford.
Dr. Bali explains that at its core, the ‘Whole Brain’ approach is about “leveraging all the dimensions of the brain and thinking preferences to get remarkable results.”
Dr. Neethling emphasizes that there is “no good or bad side” in terms of thinking, they are all just preferences – but when you meet people with different styles in different quadrants is when things can become tricky.
“In your organization and family, you are surrounded by people who have different areas of thinking styles…you cannot have good relationships if you seek out people in the same quadrant,” he says. “With practice, you learn to move in and out of your dimension and you suddenly realize that all this while you have been making decisions just based on your preferred dimensions.”
Dr. Bali cites an example that with the help of the instrument, if one looks for cues of a customer’s thinking preference, like ‘Analyzer/Realist’(L1), it can help in aligning to the thinking style and communicate from that quadrant or dimension. The results are astonishing.
Now with the understanding that this person is more of an organizer, I talk more from an organizer’s point of view, and create remarkable results, says Dr. Bali.
The unmissable impact
Once you start approaching the world from the perspective of the ‘whole-brain,’ “you begin attracting more clients and attract people who you have never been able to attract before,” he says.
One of the main areas where organizations have been successful in seeing the impact of the approach is sales.
We train thousands of people who sell on the phone and have seen remarkable results, says Dr. Neethling. “The moment you can move into the client’s brain, everything changes…”
For managers, the impact can be seen organization-wide. When you become an 8-dimensional manager, you can pick up people in your team and surround yourself with the 8 versions of thinking in one team, then you cannot go wrong.
If you truly make Whole Brain Thinking your culture, it impacts everything, says Dr. Kobus Neethling.
“If you truly make this your culture, it impacts everything,” says Dr. Neethling, citing an example of a CEO of large mining who had approached his organization about the effectiveness of a crucial safety training at the company. The way its supervisors had been explaining safety wasn’t in the learning brain of the worker making the staff miss crucial aspects resulting in accidents.
“Once I had developed an instrument to understand their thinking preferences – what happened was there was not one death and not one accident,” Dr. Neethling notes.
In his coaching practice, Dr. Bali, who has deep experience administering the NBI and saw phenomenal results with his own approach, shared-
Many things happened in my life – from a very high Strategist/Imagineer ( R1), when I found difficult to work with others — I actually started coaching myself. I then started using the analyst and Realist (L1) preferences more. As a result the speed of decisions and our relationships with clients has been remarkable, says Dr. Bali.
Seamless movement between dimensions
Dr. Rutherford highlights the differences between someone’s thinking preferences and the skills they learn can vary. “You don’t always live in your preferences,” she says, citing the example of the needs of a startup entrepreneur who starts out with a vision and great ideas but then is faced with a scenario where he must move into the ‘L2’ dimension of the brain that rules the organizer skills and the learning skills. If the latter is neglected, “then the most fantastic intentions of a new business can end in disaster,” she warns.
Dr. Neethling paints another scenario: “The moment you understand the brain of the job, you can explain to people so much better what you require from them.”
Dr. Bali highlights that the ‘whole brain’ approach is instrumental to help how people engage with others.
In every organization experts come in with their respective knowledge, experience and thinking preferences, therefore do have differences which result in unnecessary push backs due to lack of awareness of “Thinking styles” and “Brain Preferences”. With understanding of leveraging the whole brain, conversations and decisions become seamless, says Dr. Bali.
According to Dr. Rutherford, another major upside is the “strengthening of relationships.”
Now when they are faced with a conflict, they realize the other people are not wrong; they are just different – but not wrong, says Dr. Rutherford
She says “You move beyond just trying to tolerate differences but appreciating those differences:.
Dr. Neethling also cites a cricket analogy to drive home the point: “If I am looking for a test bowler for the last couple of overs, you would not use an ‘R2’ who might get carried away by crowd, you have to use an ‘L1’ who will be more focused and not influenced by the energy of the crowd.”
This is the first part of the series explaining the whole brain thinking approach pioneered by Dr. Kobus Neethling.