The MBTI® - A Foundation for Success

Posted by Jan Craft - Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Jul 02

I have been involved in behavioural profiling using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) as a platform for promoting organisational health for a number of years now. Looking at organisational behaviours is a growing industry with a dazzling array of psychometric profiling tools available. All of them, in one way or another, are designed to identify preferred patterns of behaviour in order to study the impact that behaviour has on individual and team performance.  

This is an admirable pursuit. The result is the promotion of an intentional mindfulness and self awareness that is the mark of healthy and effective leadership. The application and benefits of these profiling tools is felt not just in the workplace but in all aspects of life - both in personal as well as professional relationships. 

Essentially all profiling tools are all based on human behaviours that are both complex but also predictable. Much of what neuroscience is revealing about the workings of the human brain validate these patterns of learned behaviour. It is this very predictability that gives tools like the MBTI® their power. Behavioural patterns were first identified and studied in the ancient Greek world and have been an object of study for centuries. This fundamental aspect of human behaviour is physiologically and neurologically unchanged.  

For many organisations the real issue in introducing these tools into their workplace is which tools is best suited for what is trying to be achieved. The issues are many. It needs to be relevant and applicable in the workplace as well as cost effective, measurable, deliverable and most importantly - simple. If the learning does not produce a re-examination and adaptation of behaviours then it produces little or no lasting value.  

The huge value of the MBTI® is its consistency. Once understood its applications are endless and span issues such as conflict, change, communication, innovation, teamwork, leadership development, career development and many others. It offers a unique foundation for further development and learning. The MBTI® is now forging ahead in new areas such as commercial branding and identifying the dynamics of creativity and  innovation in organisations. 

Why not consider harnessing the power of the MBTI® as a formidable foundational tool for your organisation?  



We all speak the same language - or do we?

Posted by Jan Craft - Monday, March 18, 2013

Mar 18

One of the most useful things I learnt in my first Myers Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) workshop is that even though the people we live and work with may technically speak English, we do not all speak the same language. It was one of those 'ah-ha' moments for me when I suddenly understood why I have often been, in my view anyway, misunderstood.

As an ENTP, I have a preference, in type terms, for Thinking. I like to use technical language and I like to make decisions based on logic and reason. I also like the world to make sense and, consequently, can be thrown off balance when people and situations appear be be illogical. This behavioural characteristic has meant that I take care to be articulate, framing words deliberately, often with the aim of being clear and precise. What I can miss in exchanges, most particularly with people with a preference for Feeling, is nuance.  

Let me explain with a real life example. I wrote a letter to a group of volunteers asking if they would be prepared to help with a particular project. That was it. A 'yes' or 'no' answer if you like. The reply astonished me. I received a reply with great details as to the organisational arrangements. I had merely requested an indication as to whether they might be happy to assist. In reply I thanked them but explained that I needed to liaise with other groups before settling the arrangements. It quickly became clear that my response was perceived to be a slight on what they had proposed. This is, of course, how many misunderstandings begin. 

I subsequently rang the President of the volunteer committee to explain that I had not intended any offense. When I pointed out what I had actually said in my letter the most wonderful reply came back "yes, but that's not what it sounded like..".  This was an 'ah-ha' moment. A classic Thinker/Feeler moment. It was not what I actually said that was crucial in this exchange, but what was heard...and they were quite different. 

It is not what you say but how you say it. 

MBTI® Case Study

Posted by Jan Craft - Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mar 12


I have been reading a recent case study introduced by Reema Singh of the National Australia Bank describing their company's significant commitment to achieving high performance outcomes for their teams. The core focus of the process was introducing the MBTI® framework which initially involved teams in five full day MBTI® workshop sessions. Over the course of a year more there were more than 500 MBTI® debriefs with staff. The interest and buzz generated in these sessions produced much positive feedback and improved outcomes for NAB managers and their teams.What is remarkable about this initiative was the resolve of the NAB to commit the time and resources to a programme of staff development over time. The outcomes are worth noting.

  • Learning a common language so that people could understand each other. 
  • Feedback came from people in teams committed to exploring new behaviours and putting them into practice. 
  • The MBTI® sessions created a forum for participants to challenge, question, share and support each other.
  • Team sharing provided "such relevant and specific feedback" that many areas of behaviour have been identified and are being actively addressed and improved on by the team.

The foundational learning the MBTI® has provided now allows for the further development of teams and leaders in related areas such as change leadership, conflict, communication and other development programs.The NAB has gone on to developing team programs based around Patrick Lencioni's The Five Dysfunctions of a Team model. Behavioural profiling is a first and integral step in overcoming the first dysfunction 'absence of trust'. Pat recommends the MBTI® as the best profiling tool available. It is non-judgmental, by far the best researched and validated instrument and the participant actively chooses his or her 'best fit' type. 

Deena concludes "The flexibility of the MBTI® instrument tool illustrates to me the power it has of connecting to so many different topics and people. Those that have connected to the tool come from diverse backgrounds, ages and experiences."                                                                                         - from NAB Case Study published by CPP Asia. 

Applications of the MBTI® with other models

Posted by Jan Craft - Monday, March 11, 2013

Mar 11

One of the great benefits of using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® assessment is the consistency with which it can predict human behaviours. This predictability is extremely useful in understanding and managing a wide range of  issues in the workplace such as change, conflict, stress and many others. The power of the MBTI® is particularly evident when used as a complimentary tool with other instruments. Type Theory is further validated when used to help interpret behavioural outcomes in other indicator models.  

Type Theory is predicated on an understanding that an individuals type in innate and does not change in one's lifetime. This is a characteristic it shares with other personality models such as Temperament Type Theory and the Enneagramme. There are many useful models however that are dynamic in nature in that they allow for behavioural shifts based on the response choice an individual makes in a given situation. These personality indicator models include the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument ™, Fundamental Inter-Personal Relations Orientation™(FIRO®), David Kolb's Learning Styles and David Kelsey's work on Temperament Theory among many others. CPP Asia Pacific, the licensed provider and distributor of the MBTI® in Australia, has recently produced an informative guide on how an understanding of Type can deliver powerful insights to the facilitation of  The Five Dysfunctions of a Team model. The advantage of this collaboration is a greater richness of personal data that in turn delivers deeper insight into an individuals behaviour. 

The facilitation of a MBTI® workshop is a powerful platform on which to build learning about deep self in terms of function and motivation. It provides a rich body of personal data and enhanced self awareness.  

To develop an awareness of our behavioural style and choices is highly valuable but when used alongside the MBTI® the benefit is increased many fold. To be honest I can think of few learning situations where a case for incorporating the MBTI® is not compelling in terms of added value.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Posted by Jan Craft - Monday, February 11, 2013

Feb 11

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The Table Group are quite extraordinary for a number of reasons. They have created business formats for team building based not on theoretical models but on a simple common sense approach, backed up with case studies from life experience. What this has produced is a straightforward learning approach that is accessible to all and does not require great sophistication to deliver success.

Written by Patrick Lencioni in 2002, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is a business fable with fictional characters and a story-line based on Pat’s life experience working as a corporate executive at Sybase, Oracle and Bain & Co in the U.S. It is simple and engaging to read but for the corporate businessperson the setting and characters will be spine chillingly familiar. All of the dysfunctions of a team are there. For some it is ego, self interest, self promotion, fear of failure, frustration, anger, aggression and disillusionment. The way this fictional situation is resolved becomes the basis of the Five Dysfunctions of a Team model which is powerful primarily in its relative simplicity. This is explained in more detail at the end of the book.

What is inspirational about Pat’s company The Table Group is their incredible belief in their product and its power to be transformational. Having operated in the business world I can see the strength of its propositions for change. Let’s look at just one facet and explore how this one simple change in behaviour could potentially eliminate politics from a team.

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team model recommends creating team meeting norms, a set of behaviours to which a team must adhere. The purpose of these norms is to eliminate politics, yes you heard right, eliminate. How is this achieved? Just one rule states that there should be no out of meeting meetings. For some individuals their entire corporate patterns of behaviour revolve around lobbying and manipulating issues behind the scenes.  All business matters and topics are discussed only when the team meets together. It requires a strong leader to enforce this rule but once established the team itself will be self governing. No individual in the team should have an opportunity to express themselves other than to all of the team members.  The leader needs to make it clear...”you cannot meet with me, email me, phone me, walk into my office, stop me in the corridor or communicate anything except with all of the team at the table”. This also applies to the rest of the team.  It takes very few instances of a conspiratorial comment being rebuffed for this behaviour to change.

This is a very simple strategy but its power is undeniable. 

Change and The Life of Pi

Posted by Jan Craft - Thursday, February 07, 2013

Feb 07

I have been thinking a lot about Change Management and reading many texts on change theory by experts in this field. So much complexity and so many factors impact on how highly functioning adults react to change. One thing is certain - Change Happens, and it happens all the time. Sometimes it is an option, often not, but how we respond to change is always a choice. 

In his wonderful book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ©1989 Stephen Covey writes about the power of the paradigm shift. A paradigm, he explains, is the way we "see" the world in terms of perceiving, understanding and interpreting. He gives great examples of powerful paradigm shifts. My favourite is the captain of a battleship signalling to a light observed at night to change course. The message comes back that the battleship should change its course. After a number of heated exchanges the furious captain demands acquiescence declaring "I am a battleship". The signal comes back immediately "I am a lighthouse". The captain changed course. All of us reading this account experience a paradigm shift, what we had thought and understood about the world has changed. 

I have just finished reading The Life of Pi, winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2005, by Yann Martel. It is the story of a young boy, named Pi, travelling with his parents and brother on a ship transporting animals from his family's zoo in India to Canada. There is a storm at sea, the ships sinks and Pi is the only survivor. He finds himself stranded in a lifeboat with four of the zoo animals, a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a Bengal tiger curiously named Richard Parker. As the food chain would dictate before long only Pi and the tiger remain. Pi is terrified of being devoured by the tiger. He tries to think of ways to kill Richard Parker before he himself is killed. He knows that as the tiger becomes hungrier so the likelihood of an attack increases. He thinks of wild plans and schemes to rid himself of the tiger but each one seems more impossible than the rest. Finally a paradigm shift occurs. "It was at that moment that I was not a question of him or me, but of him and me. We would live or die together". Pi realised that his survival depended on Richard Parker's survival. So Pi adopted Plan Number Seven: Keep Him Alive. Pi fished and provided food for them both. Solar stills from the life boat provided water. They stayed alive.   

Like Pi, often we focus only on our limitations when change occurs. Listening to our inner voice and the language we use is key. Stephen Covey describes this in his First Habit - Be Proactive. Do we tell ourselves that there is nothing we can do or do we look at all of the alternatives? Do we see our options in terms of I can't or I choose? Knowing we have the power of choice is what will give us hope. Pi choose a different path for both himself and Richard Parker and together they survived.

Organisational Health

Posted by Jan Craft - Friday, December 21, 2012

Dec 21

I have been rereading The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni the best selling author of numerous business books most notably The Five Dysfunctions of Team.

In The Advantage Pat outlines practical, simple and straightforward strategies to create health in organisations. The most powerful aspect of his model is that it is simple, it is straightforward, it does not cost a lot of money, it does not require great intelligence and it is accessible to any organisation. These truths can work against organisations with a culture of valuing complexity. Many well educated executives distrust something that is too simple.

A healthy organisation is about integrity – when management, operations, strategy and culture fit together and operate out of the same goals and values. In order to achieve this they need to be both smart and healthy.

Smart means that they need to know their markets, customers, finance and technology in order to make the best decisions. For most organisations this is where they focus and spend most of their time and money. What frequently is not addressed is the health side of the ledger. This means focusing on minimising politics, reducing confusion by creating clarity and communicating clearly and often. The health aspects of an organisation are often neglected because they are difficult to embrace. It is unfamiliar territory in many ways.

Health does not appear in the curricula of business schools. It involves managing people, where most executives prefer the hard skills of balance sheets and budgets. It is not really measurable or quantifiable though no-one could deny the powerful impact that health has on an organisation. Being healthy is not costly, it is simple and achievable. It does however require discipline, consistency and commitment. The Advantage model is powerful and promises any organisation that embraces it an opportunity to create a real and genuine competitive advantage.

MBTI & Stereotypes

Posted by Jan Craft - Monday, December 17, 2012

Dec 17

MBTI® & Stereotypes

It is my experience that the single biggest difficulty in the facilitation of MBTI® workshops is working against the stereotyping of Jung’s vocabulary by the culture. Nowhere is this more challenging than in the use of the terms extraversion and introversion, the modern meanings of which are far removed from Jung’s original intention.

In the introduction to his seminal work Psychological Types® ©1921 Jung states that in his practical medical work he has "been struck by the fact that besides the many individual differences in human psychology there are also typical (or typological) differences. Two types especially become clear to me; I have termed them the introverted and the extraverted types".

Jung goes on to describe these types in this way “one individual is determined (or attracted) more by the objects of his interest, while another is determined more by his own inner self...we naturally tend to understand everything in terms of our own type.”

The culture has, over time, adapted Jung’s terms and applied them in a very broad sense to indicate that extraverts are often gregarious and fun loving, with lots of friends and living in the moment whilst their introverted counterparts are withdrawn private people with few friends and a tendency to being somewhat shy and preoccupied with deep thoughts. Whilst elements of these behaviours have some basis in Jung’s theory, they generally operate out of a misunderstanding of their intended meaning.

As these terms are now loaded, they increasingly present an impediment for individuals seeking to self select their type. For example a participant in a recent workshop had been typed with a preference for extraversion in the Form M Myers Briggs Type Indicator® assessment and their preference for extraversion was validated by their peer group in the workshop activities. They owned  to feeling "at home" and comfortable in the extravert group, but despite this maintained a view that they were introvert. Interestingly enough they were unable to identify the qualities of introversion with which they felt a connection. It is absolutely valid for any individual to choose not to choose a type preference for themselves, however, I could not help but wonder what was it about the term 'extraversion' that made self selection of this preference so challenging. 

The culture seems to use these terms as either/or propositions and Jung himself was very aware of this difficulty. He states “...everyone possesses both mechanisms, extraversion as well as introversion, and only the relative predominance of one or the other determines the type" Carl G Jung - Psychological Types ©1921

First Blog

Posted by Jan Craft - Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dec 12

The date today is the 12/12/12 and therefore an auspicious date on which to post my first blog.

I was accredited to administer the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI® in September 2008. I was very fortunate because the facilitator was Mary MacGuiness. Mary has been training type professsionals since 1987 and her alumni would number in the thousands.

I was introduced to type theory by my brother (also trained by Mary). I remember he typed me as an ENTP, igniting my curiosity as to what these strange letters meant. He then lent me his copy of a book called Gifts Differing©1980 by Isobel Briggs Myers written with her husband Peter Myers (go to "Resources" to read my review) and my exploration of the world of type began. I learned of its beginings with Carl Gustav Jung and his "discovery" of patterns in human behaviour, the findings of which, were first published in his book Psychological Types© 1921. Translated from the original German in 1923, Jungs work found its way to the United States where it changed the lives of two remarkable women, Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isobel.

Being Typed is not being put into a box

Carl Jung at the end of his life was very clear about his stance on the value of theories in descibing the individual. In The Undiscovered Self written just three years before his death in 1961, he draws on the metaphor of a bed of pebbles in order to explain his position on theoretical knowledge.

"Since self knowledge is getting to know the individual facts, theories help very little in this respect. For the more a theory lays claim to universal validity, the less capable it is of doing justice to the individual facts. ...If, for instance, I determine the weight of each stone in a bed of pebbles and get an average weight of 145grams, this tells me very little about the real nature of the pebbles...The statisical method shows the facts in the light of an ideal average but does not give us a picture of their empirical reality...

There is, and can be no self-knowledge based on theoretical assumptons, for the object of self knowledge is an individual-a relative exception and an irregular phenomenon...He is not to be understood as a recurrent unit but as something unique and singular which in the last analysis can neither be known nor compared with anything else".

Carl G Jung The Undiscovered Self © 1958

Type theory is a wonderful tool for insight into understanding human behaviour but it does not deny the absolute uniqueness of each individual and the formation of self in the innate, the learned, our culture and our environment.