Myers-Briggs In-Depth: Decision Making

by Ron Potter

MeyersBriggsIn-DepthDon’t be an Arm Chair Psychologist

One of the things I always caution my clients with is “You don’t need to remember what your Myers-Briggs Type is and you certainly should not try to remember what type everyone else is.”  For one, you’ll be wrong and secondly and more importantly, that’s not what you should be remembering.  What you should be remembering is what type of team or decision making process should I be conducting so that every type is fully engaged?  Full engagement from everyone involved will help the team become the best at decision making.

Decision Making Function

The two “middle” functions of Perceiving (Sensing vs iNtuition) and Deciding (Thinking vs Feeling) are considered the decision making functions.  Each of us cycles through these two functions on a continual basis from the time we get up to the time we go to bed.  When I first looked out the window this morning (in April) I perceived that it was snowing!  Therefore, when I went out the door for my morning walk I did not decide to wear my spring jacket.  This cycling process continues on all day through minor decisions and major decisions.  What do we perceive about the decision we face, how do we then decide?

Balance, Balance, Balance

I hope that phrase, Balance, Balance, Balance, has been seared into your brain through this series on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  This is the key to good decision making both personal and team decisions.

On the personal basis continue to grow in your ability to think outside your personal preference areas.  Often having a partner who has a natural preference set different from yours can be a great way of accomplishing this goal.

On the team side it can often be accomplished by simple discipline of staying focused on one preference at a time.  For instance, if you and your team are faced with a difficult or important decision to make, break down the issue into the four decision making functions:

Sensing: Ask the team to stay totally focused on the Sensing issues for the moment and ask questions like:

  • Do we know all the facts and what are they?
  • Do we have a clear understanding of the situation? Are we looking too narrowly?
  • What has been done already or what has been done in the past?
  • What is each part of the team doing at the moment? Are the efforts coordinated?
  • What if someone from a different industry came in, what would they see?

Intuition: Once you’ve exhausted the Sensing questions, move on to a more iNtuitive view:

  • Are there possibilities that we haven’t explored?
  • What are some other ways of solving these types of problems?
  • We know all the facts but what is the story or the implications?
  • Is this similar to a problem that other industries face?

Thinking: Once we’ve exposed all the facts and our intuitive reactions to them, begin to look at logical questions:

  • What pros and cons do we face with this issue: Shareholders, Customers, Employees?
  • What would be the logical consequences of each possibility?
  • Do we know the cost and/or revenue expected from each possibility?
  • What are the consequences of not acting at all (that is indeed a decision)?

Feeling: Finally but not least (this is often the more powerful of the four functions) begin to ask the feeling questions:

  • How does each of us feel about what we’ll gain or lose with each option?
  • What values do we need to pay attention to with each option?
  • How will people concerned (Shareholders, Customers, Employees, ourselves) react to each outcome?
  • Who is committed and capable of carrying out the solution?

And don’t forget to stop and reflect (Introversion) at each step along the way with our open discussions (Extraverted) about each issue.

And, use your Perception to make sure there’s an openness to all aspects of the problem while at the same time setting reasonable time tables (Judging) for advancing through the process.

Myers-Briggs In-Depth is a blog series in which I dive into each MBTI function with more detail, providing some practical applications for creating better dynamics and better decision making. Click here to read the entire series.
Interested in an overview of each of the four Myers-Briggs functions? Click here to read the Using MBTI to Great Advantage series.

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