The Power of Understanding Your Team’s Thinking Styles

Written by on July 29, 2015

“Working smarter…simply means working more productively without working harder or longer.”
Peter Drucker, Management Consultant and Author.

How we think is a critical component in our ability to work “smarter.” Our thinking drives the way we process information and how we make decisions; it impacts our actions and behaviours. And, ultimately, it is what generates results. In an organizational context, then, if we want high-level results, we need to use high-level thinking. The Thinking Intentions Profile can be a powerful tool that enables us to utilize the right thinking for the right reasons – so we can achieve the right results.

A Quick Review of the Thinking Intentions Profile

Jerry Rhodes, creator of the Thinking Intentions Profile, identified three key driving forces, which he described using colours:

  • Blue: Judging what is right.
  • Red: Describing our truth in the world.
  • Green: Realizing what is novel in the world.

Rhodes used these colours purposefully because, when combined, they create whole light. He wanted to represent the holistic nature of these three driving forces and how they interact with each other to facilitate quality level thinking in individuals.

The Six Frames of Mind

As you can see in the chart, the three driving forces are subdivided into 6 frames of mind: logical, analytical, and ingenious (which are objective in nature) and evaluative, experiencing, and imaginative (which are subjective in nature). Rhodes also used “hard” and “soft” to describe these thinking styles. That is, we have hard blue, hard red, and hard green, and soft blue, soft red, and soft green.

“Soft” does not indicate weakness or vulnerability at all. It is simply the style, with “soft” thinking as subjective and “hard” thinking as objective. It is, essentially, an internal focus versus an external focus.

To the left, blue thinking (both hard and soft) is convergent and closed in nature. To the right, green thinking is divergent and open in nature. Hard and soft red, then, is the conduit and link between blue and green thinking.

There is no “best” thinking style; each can contribute to the collective strengths of a team. The value is in awareness and understanding how we show up in work and team environments so we can maximize those contributions.

Team and Individual Benefits of Using the Thinking Intentions Profile

Using and applying the Thinking Intentions Profile can confer exceptional advantages in an organizational setting, particularly in these areas:

  1. Personal Awareness. A deep and strong personal awareness allows us, using emotional intelligence, to self-manage more effectively. When combined with personality, EQ, and conflict resolution style assessments, the Thinking Intentions Profile helps us examine how we operationalize and achieve our own best results. We can then maximize strengths and identify areas for growth.
  2. Task Management and Project Management. When we are working on any task, project, or challenge that demands our best thinking, utilizing the Thinking Intentions Profile framework allows us to perform more efficiently and effectively. This leads to optimal results.
  3. Interpersonal Relationships. Relationship building is a critical component in creating strong and effective teams. When we’re aware of our Thinking profile, as well as the profiles of our teammates, it strengthens our ability to maintain productive, positive relationships. The focus is on achieving high-level results and avoiding conflict.
  4. Team Collaboration. We can improve each team’s ability to harness collective talents and competencies. This enables us to maximize the diverse talents of every individual around the table.

Putting the Thinking Intentions Profile to Work in Your Team

Ultimately, the best results occur when every single member of the team is aware of their profile and those results are made known to the whole. Why? Well, for instance, I may be a strong logical thinker, and I have a task in front of me that demands creative thinking. If I know a colleague has a strong proclivity in that specific domain, I can approach them and say, “Can we do some brainstorming together? I need to access and utilize some out-of-the-box thinking, and I know that is a strength of yours.”

In addition to leveraging different styles of thinking to accomplish a specific task, relationship-building opportunities occur organically when people reach out for help or acknowledge the strengths of others. Teams have a significant opportunity to grow and enhance performance, to achieve those high-level results together.

By understanding our thinking styles, we can begin to work “smarter,” harnessing and leveraging collective strengths to move our teams and organizations forward.