The Only Team I Ever Recommended be Split Up

by Ron

Diversity

The best teams I’ve ever worked with have had a great deal of diversity of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) preferences on the team.  However, diversity alone is not enough to ensure a high performance team.  But, it is a great foundation.

photo-1453474473052-08cd150dfe87 (1)There has only been one time in my twenty-five plus years of Team and Leadership Consulting that I’ve recommended a team be split up and given other assignments.  That team of seven people were all resident in one particular Myers-Briggs Type Preference.  And while MBTI is certainly not the end-all measurement of team diversity, it produced a very discernable pattern.

THE answer to the question

I would find myself asking a question of one member of the team.  That member often would give me a very complete and articulate answer.  But then I would ask each of the other members if they agreed with the answer and the response was:

  • Yup,
  • Yup,
  • Yup,
  • Yup,
  • Yup,
  • Yup!

All of the other six members responding with a pleasant smile and a subtle nod of the head!

OK, let’s ask a different question: “Could we look at this question from a different perspective and maybe come up with a different answer?”

  • Nope,
  • Nope,
  • Nope,
  • Nope,
  • Nope,

All of the other six members responding with a pleasant smile and a subtle twist of the head!

Different Perspectives

Even when I tried some of the more off-the-wall approaches to perspective shifts:

“How would a gorilla solve this problem?

  • He would grab it by the head and beat it to death!
  • Yup,
  • Yup,
  • Yup,
  • Yup,
  • Yup,
  • Yup!

“How would a giraffe solve this problem?

  • He couldn’t. He’s not strong enough to beat it to death!
  • Nope,
  • Nope,
  • Nope,
  • Nope,
  • Nope,

Change of Scenery

After a few more tries at this I was finally convinced that the members of this team needed to be split up and combined with other people with different perspectives.  My assumption is that didn’t go well.  This team had been together for a long time and in the early days had been extremely productive at getting projects completed.  But the environment had changed and they not only needed to be good project managers, they needed to adapt to changing environments.  Most of them probably had a difficult time blending into teams that didn’t all think alike and in particular didn’t think like they did.

Diversity

Knowing your Myers-Briggs type is not about (or should not be about) what type preference you have and if that’s the “right” way to view the world or not.  The point is that there are 16 healthy type preferences that will each view the world slightly differently.  The point is to use the diversity for the betterment of the team.  You accomplish that be showing respect for and learning from each view point and then determining together the best route for the team to pursue.  Together!

2 comments
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2 comments

Byron February 11, 2016 - 7:07 pm

Wonderful article Ron,

Wonderful insight into the Myers-Briggs process. I imagine the type indicators aren’t static but will vary as individuals become exposed to different types and teams over the course of their career?

Likewise, the ground rule for Diversity being “showing respect for and learning from others on the team” is quotable, what a novel concept. I’ll bet they don’t teach that in Law School?

Reply
Ron Potter February 14, 2016 - 11:54 pm

Bryon, the theory behind Myers-Briggs is that your type does not change over time but is fixed. However, the point I’m always trying to make is balance, balance, balance. The best leaders I’ve worked with seem to touch on all of the “indicators” regardless of their personal preference.
Thanks for the comment and in particular the point about showing respect.
Ron

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