How the Thinking Intention Profile Can Benefit You and Your Team

Written by on October 20, 2014

How we think ultimately impacts how we perform. As organizations must surmount the challenges of globalization, increased competition, complicated regulations, and ever-evolving technology, they need leaders and teams who can consistently deliver outstanding performance. Understanding our cognitive styles is a critical step; it allows us to harness the collective strengths of teams and leverage diverse thinking for great results.

The Thinking Intentions Model

The model that Jerry Rhodes, pioneer in the field of cognitive styles, developed and Brett Richards updated and refined, identified six different thinking styles and three driving forces. Let’s explore what they are – and what they mean for teams and organizations.

Blue, Red, and Green – What Does It Mean?

Blue: Red: Green:
Judgement Truth Exploration
Logical Analytical Ingenious
Evaluative Experiencing Imaginative
  • Driving force: Judgment
  • Blue thinking styles: Logical and Evaluative
  • Driving force: Truth
  • Red thinking styles: Analytical and Experiencing
  • Driving force: Exploration
  • Green thinking styles: Ingenious and Imaginative

Whole Light

Rhodes deliberately chose these colors because, when you combine them, they create whole light. He considered his model a holistic approach to looking at individuals, teams and their cognitive styles. Blue thinking styles are convergent in nature; green are divergent in nature. Red is the connective tissue.

To put this into context, imagine an airplane. Blue and green minds frames are the wings, while red is the fuselage that holds them all together. When individuals and teams have the capacity to think in all six frames of mind – in all three colors – they have the potential to work more productively, efficiently, and effectively. They have the potential, to borrow Rhodes’ thinking, to create whole light together.

Blue, Red, and Green – What Do They Mean?

The different learning styles:

Hard Blue

Blue folks are highly objective and linear. They want unbeatable rationale and to know that their approach and results are going to be fair and just. Blues need to be convinced – succinctly – and they want test data and information from a variety of sources that they can compare. Ultimately, they seek reason and structure.

From a leadership perspective: These thinkers are very objective. They want proof, evidence, and they want to weigh it before making a decision. They tend to be able to see patterns, which can be incredibly beneficial to the team.

Key phrase for a hard blue thinker: “Prove it to me.”

Example of a hard blue thinker: Donald Trump

Hard Red

Their approach to tasks and people is very explicit and organized. They are the walking encyclopedias of the world and they want to deal in facts. Categorizing and organizing are important to them, and they have a wonderful ability to look at issues and challenges in a holistic context.

From a leadership context: The ability to look at situations holistically is beneficial to teams. Red thinkers use realism and processes to achieve results. They focus on precision, accuracy, and detail, and are known for their memory store and knowledge.

Key Phrase: “Let’s analyze it.”

Example of a hard red thinker: Sherlock Holmes

Hard Green

They thrive on ideas. These resourceful individuals love the fast flow of ideas and enjoy playing with their thinking. Innovative and creative thinkers, hard green folks like to challenge existing protocols and practices, look for new angles and opportunities, and explore options.

From a leadership perspective: 25-30 years ago, these individuals and their divergent thinking were not valued in organizations. Today, they’re indispensable. In the constantly changing world we live in, green thinkers are essential in assisting companies to remain on the cutting edge.

Key Phrase: “I’d love to explore this more.”

Example of a hard green thinker: Bill Gates

Soft Blue

Emotions drive soft blue thinkers. They look to interpretation for meaning as opposed to logic. Rather than dealing with the strict facts, they want to explore the values that come to the table and how they are going to impact people and systems. Enthusiastic, they are the cheerleaders of the team and have great influence on others.

From a leadership perspective: Soft blue thinkers are focused on commitment; they have a strong sense of purpose, coupled with an ability to predict and forecast. In addition, they are known for their ethics, morals, and motivations. They look with excitement to the road ahead. In strategic planning situations, these are the individuals you want on your team.

Key Phrase: “I want this! I really want this! Gotta have it, gotta get it!”

Example of a soft blue thinker: Tony Robbins

Soft Red

Whereas hard red thinkers are quantitative, soft red thinkers are qualitative. They want to experience – everything! They have a passion for life, and for the truth. Because they make terrific moderators, soft red thinkers make great teachers and negotiators. They have the ability to be both sensitive and sensing, have a strong focus on communication, and are able to observe from a global perspective.

From a leadership perspective: These individuals focus on connecting with people and meaning. They tend to have a strong ability to present to groups. They should be valued for their sensitivity towards others and focus on interpersonal relationships and communication.

Key Phrase: “I want this!”

Example of a soft red thinker: Mother Theresa

Soft Green

“I wonder”… Soft green thinkers love to transcend daily tasks and occupy a more ethereal place. They are the individuals who make decisions based on hunches and intuition versus logic and reason. Able to think metaphorically, they are highly visual in the way they process information. Like hard green thinkers, they can contribute to incredibly innovative visions for teams and organizations.

From a leadership perspective: Soft green thinkers love to play with ideas. They’re the daydreamers of the world, the breakthrough strategy artists. Highly intuitive, highly inspired, they take a leading edge approach.

Key Phrase: “I can just imagine what this opportunity will look like!”

Example of a soft green thinker: Andy Warhol

When One Style Dominates

There is no right or wrong thinking style, no worst or best. There are, however, flipsides to each. There can be a negative impact when individuals are too strongly dominant in any one domain:

  • Hard Blue: These individuals can be perceived as stepping on toes, cold, and lacking in caring and sympathy.
  • Hard Red: They may get stuck in the mud of data and information. So focused and intent on “getting it right,” they can fail to come to decisions.
  • Hard Green: The “dragon flies” in the room: hard greens may dart all over the place constantly playing with ideas. They want to focus on generating ideas and getting outside of box, versus nailing down details and logistics.
  • Soft Blue: These individuals can become overly emotional, which can create discomfort in corporate environments.
  • Soft Red: Like hard red thinkers, soft red folks can be wafflers and have a difficult time making decisions.
  • Soft Green: The “Cloud 9” people, they are constantly engaging in incredible out-of-zone thinking. They may move too quickly for other thinkers – and they may drive them nuts by maintaining incredibly messy workspaces!

The Thinking Intentions Profile assesses both individuals and teams, delivering insights that can help leaders leverage the strengths of each member and acknowledge their contributions to the whole. Collectively, they can work together to achieve the high-level results that their organizations demand.