The HBDI® Linear Continuum The HBDI® Linear Continuum

The HBDI® Linear Continuum

WHAT is a Linear Continuum?

The linear continuum is a sequential distribution of a group of individual HBDI® profiles that are placed in a rank-order from the most Upper Left A to the most Upper Right D profiles.  The linear continuum provides the basis for placing individuals into heterogeneous or homogeneous groupings, or providing seating arrangements as may be required in a learning experience or team activity.

Linear Continuum Applications:

  • Team Building
  • Task-force assignments
  • Problem Solving Groups
  • Seating in Workshops
  • Learning Groups
  • Communication Exercises
  • Various Exercises where similarities or differences can enhance the learning

WHY use a Linear Continuum?

The Linear Continuum is a great tool when working with groups.  Continuum building is the best way to familiarize yourself "close-up" with a group's data, get a "feel" for it, see and sense the similarities and differences, as well as become aware of clusters of preference and avoidance.  This opportunity to "get your hands on the data" and see it as a whole, as well as in parts is actually a whole-brain process.

The Continuum provides the ability to cluster individuals meaningfully, using the information that the HBDI® provides as a key to more effective pairs, teams, groups, and learning experiences.  Here’s a graphic example of how the Continuum can be used for groupings and pairings:

NOTE: It is essential that you consider male/female, occupation, adjective pairs, key descriptor and work elements data, as well as the visual profile and the placement on the preference map.


WHO benefits from a Linear Continuum?

Practitioners find this tool to be very helpful in creating pairings and groupings as demonstrated above, not to mention the ability to take a deep dive into the data in preparation for their sessions, and just the right amount of effort, since Axon does much of the work for them.

Thinkers will be amazed at how they are seated near team members that are very similar or how their teams are created to include various thinking styles.  They will wonder how their groups are created with such great skill.

HOW is a Linear Continuum formed?

The continuum sequence and data from each profile is captured as a tool for creating groupings for your learning activities.  Axon provides two resources for this data:

  • Linear Continuum PDF
  • Linear Continuum (csv: comma separated value) File

In both cases Axon uses a mathematical calculation to sort the profiles by beginning with the most Left A Quadrant profile and ending with the most Right D Quadrant profile.  

NOTE: This is a beginning calculation, but because there are subtle differences within each HBDI® profile you may want to adjust the order.  This is where the “csv” version of the report can be valuable since you can enter a new order in column #1 and then sort again to re-order the list of profiles.

More Detail on the “HOW”

A Suggested Approach To Continuum Building and/or Making Adjustments

Plan to lay out the actual profiles in physical sequence by printing the profile and data summary page for each Thinker.

Use the Axon Linear Continuum worksheet as a guide to laying the profiles out on a large flat surface. 

NOTE: Using the Linear Continuum worksheet/report from Axon simplifies the process outlined below and you can easily use the instructions below to “adjust” the order as you see fit.

To “Build” a Linear Continuum

Always begin the continuum building process by clustering all like profiles together and arranging them so that each individual profile within those clusters is positioned next to her/his mental peer.  Then find the most Upper Left A profile (that profile with the highest dominance score in the A Quadrant).  If none is apparent, then begin with the most obvious left oriented score and work "full circle" around the continuum, counter-clockwise.

Always start from the most “A quadrant only” on the left and then honor the A quadrant preferences as you move toward the B quadrant.

Secondly, go to the other end of the continuum on the right and start at the “most D quadrant only” profiles. Then work backwards, now honoring the D quadrant followed by the C quadrant preferences but still paying attention to the A and B quadrant preferences.

Next, deal with the most difficult part which is the middle.  Honor first the A quadrant tilts, then the B quadrant tilts, next the upper/cerebral (A/D), followed by the various configurations of whole (ABCD), followed by the lower/limbic, favoring the B/C quadrant.

Don’t rely only on the visual alignment, be sure to look at the numbers as well.

At all times, remember that you are dealing with people, not just data.  The continuum process provides you with an opportunity to benefit people, not to manipulate them to their detriment.  It is a very powerful tool. 


  • The smaller the group the lower the probability of heterogeneity and a wide spectrum of profiles unless the group is cross-functional.
  • The smaller the group the harder it is to find models of behavior for each of the four quadrants.
  • The greater the male/female balance the greater the probability for heterogeneity.
  • The more CROSS-FUNCTIONAL the group the greater the probability for heterogeneity.
  • The larger the group the greater the probability for heterogeneity


A Quick view of how a Continuum looks by Quadrant Preference

From the Most Left            A            1            2            2            2

                                           AB         1            1            2            2

                                           B            2            1            2            2

                                           B+ C      2            1+          1            2

                                           ABCD    1            1            1            1

                                           A+ D      1+          2            2            1

                                           A D+      1            2            2            1+

                                           ABCD    1            1            1            1

                                           B C+      2            1            1+          2

                                           C            2            2            1            2

                                           CD         2            2            1            1

To the Most Right             D            2            2            2            1


Or from a more Visual Point of View


More about Groups and Continuum Power

As you plan your programs, think of the mentality of the groups you will work with. Often, workshop groups, task teams, brainstorming sessions, and other "work" groups have been formed without taking the mental preferences of the individuals into consideration. 

Homogeneity, achieved by clustering similar profiles, allows for affirmation, comfort, easier communication, and climate building kinship between individuals.  These pairs and groups come to a consensus quickly and easily in most cases.  However, competition can also occur between similar profiles so remember that just because profiles are similar doesn't necessarily mean people "like each other".

Heterogeneity, achieved by clustering varying degrees of different profiles together, allows for synergistic, energetic, challenging, and creative groupings.  Our experience with heterogeneous groups clearly shows that, when properly facilitated, they produce greater creative output than homogeneous groups and represent the ideal learning group.  Diversity in a heterogeneous learning group provides models of different learning styles and behaviors that become a resource for the facilitator.  These "differences" can become confrontational however, if the appropriate climate, understanding, and facilitation have not been provided. 

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