The smartest companies today aren’t necessarily those that out-produce the competition—They're the ones that outthink them.

The Thinking Styles premise is that people tend to have a typical area of focus on Ideas, Process, Action or Relationships, along with an orientation towards the big picture or details.

While there are plenty of tools to help understand personalities, it’s harder to gain insight into how we think and collaborate.

The Thinking Styles approach was developed by Mark Bonchek and Elisa Steele as a quick and practical tool to help teams accelerate collaboration, increase engagement, generate contribution, and improve performance.

It offers a simple, intuitive alternative to assessment tools like DISC and Myers-Briggs, which are complex, time-consuming, and expensive, and which focus on personality rather than cognition and collaboration.

Read the article that started it all:
What Kind of Thinker Are You?

Thinking Styles has relevance for individuals, relationships, and groups


Individual awareness of your Thinking Style helps you leverage your strengths and focus your personal development efforts.



In relationships, Thinking Styles enhances influence by helping people figure how best to collaborate and play to each other’s strengths.


In a group, knowing the distribution of Thinking Styles reveals what’s missing so you can compensate for gaps or bring in complementary resources.

The eight thinking styles are fluid and change in different settings, but people tend to have dominant styles. Understanding your Thinking Style profile helps you leverage your strengths and focus your personal and professional development.

Knowing your Thinking Style can increase your influence by helping you be a more effective thought partner with your teammates and colleagues.

Thought partnership is the practice of sharing ideas and experience with others to help them navigate complex challenges. This may sound like advice or mentorship, but the key difference is that thought partnership is always mutually beneficial.

When you partner with people who think like you do, you resonate—becoming a sounding board for each other’s best ideas. When you pair with people who think differently than you do, you complement—stretching each other’s view of a situation to find and sort useful new approaches to a problem.

Being a Thought Partner by MJ Petroni on

Being a Thought Partner
by MJ Petroni on

Most teams need every kind of thinking style at one point or another.

Creating a “heat map” of your group’s Thinking Styles shows where the team is over- or under-represented relative to the goals and objectives, so you can bring in complementary resources or ask other team members to compensate for gaps.

Innovation moves through a lifecycle that includes idea, launch, scaling and completion. These phases can be mapped onto the four seasons: early ideation (Spring), development and growth (Summer), monetization and harvesting (Fall), and reinvention and renewal (Winter).

Each season of innovation requires different tools, skills and strategies—and a different mix of Thinking Styles.

Designing Innovation Teams for Success by MJ Petroni on

Designing Innovation Teams for Success
by MJ Petroni on

Design How Your Team Thinks by Mark Bonchek on  

Design How Your Team Thinks
by Mark Bonchek on