Copyright 1996 by Harvey Robbins & Michael Finley; all rights reserved.
Change means five billion things to five billion people. We ask you to think of there being three kinds of change:
The first is global change. It is big change that happens to us no matter what we do. It is everything that is happening all around us: technology, politics, inflation, current events, social change, the environment, stock prices, global competition. It is macro change.
The second is organizational change. This encompasses all the revolutionary, interventive change initiatives organizations undertake to cope with the pressures of climatic change: quality, restructuring, new philosophies and methodologies. The third is personal change. It is the little things, the micro changes that assail us on an individual level, and cause continuous stress: aging, the mix of people we work with (good and bad), our personal circumstances, our health, age, job status, finances, our home lives and relationships, what kind of day we're having, etc. Our personal lives are replete with "little murders" that diminish our flexibility to change in our jobs.
Imagine your house is an organization. Think of global change as a threatening lightning storm (a condition affecting everyone). Organizational change is you, climbing a ladder to attach lightning rods (initiatives like teams, TQM, or reengineering). Personal change is a swarm of bees that assail you as an individual (sleep deprivation, overdrawn checking account, etc.) while you climb the ladder.
Imagine three circles overlapping at the center. The three change spheres are in motion in our lives, sometimes crowding one another out, sometimes wandering away from one another. Human beings partition their lives into "spaces" of things they are willing or unwilling to deal with. We prioritize. We always seem to find space to deal with hunger, crying children, and satisfying the minimum requirements of our jobs, our relationships, and circumstances. This space is our comfort zone.
But as we prioritize some things in, we prioritize others out: unknown people, unfamiliar situations, difficult ideas. Going beyond the required minimum is often too much for us to cope with. We put them in a special space for things we plan to ignore. We call it the kill zone, the overlap space that shrinks or expands as the circles move in our lives. In the kill zone, resistance is our religion. Moving things from the kill zone to the comfort zone means reversing a decision already made. We do not do this lightly.
The odd, bulging triangle you see in the middle of the three circles is the kill zone, where change grinds to a halt. To be good at change you need a big change space and a small kill zone. If too many people in your organization have big kill zones, your organizational changes are going to die. Too much change in the other two spheres, in too many people, will stifle the organization's flexibility, its will to change.
It happens when there is no "change space" left in the lives of too many individuals necessary to the change. Just think of the toll a personal crisis takes on a person's work habits: a painful divorce, a sick child, filing for bankruptcy, living in a high-crime area, hiding a drinking problem. No way will people stressed to the max in their private lives and by the world around them suddenly find a sudden appetite for change where they work.
The importance of creating and maintaining a healthy change space can't be overemphasized. Organizations that have struggled in recent years, like Westinghouse, Sears, and the U.S. Postal Service, have all reported that the difficulty of implementing each new idea becomes greater, as it piles onto the failures preceding it.
Every newspaper brings stories of a hapless CEO like International Multifoods' Anthony Luiso, forced to step down in May, 1996 after seven years of continuous strategic and organizational change. The company was a big player in the merger and acquisition frenzy of the 1980s. In a relatively short time it tried to change everything about itself, from the kinds of relationships it had with its customers, to the markets it sold to, to its very product lines. Early on, there were signs some of the changes would take hold. By the end, the company had fallen out of the Fortune 500, probably forever, and Luiso couldn't even get the company coffee machine to work. The company had a kill zone as big as all outdoors.
Organizations that have had better luck, like Marriott and Charles Schwab, succeeded because they took care not to overload people, but to equip them in advance with the information, motivation, imagination and coping tactics to keep organizational potential from being crowded out by global and personal change. A favorite nostrum of consultants in the last decade is that the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
When the change space fills, that is the end of change. Flexibility flies out the window, and people dig in. No matter how you implore and inspire, people will be dormant, and no change will occur. Like the medieval period separating the glory of Rome from the Renaissance, people will turn their backs on new ideas until they find new space for change. Eventually, science and exploration opened up new change space. What your organization needs is a Columbus or Copernicus pointing the way to a new world, or a new paradigm. What you've probably got is Mr. Dithers.
Making space in others for change goes to the heart of leadership. It reminds us that in order to lead we must first know. It is a way of knowing that goes deeper than mere team feeling. Leaders accustomed to distancing themselves from followers and striking meaningful poses will find they have no luck enlarging their organization's change space because they have no knack for knowing people and their change potential. Good leaders know people as individuals: they know what their differences are, their dreams, their strengths, weaknesses, and character quirks. They're not best friends-- they just know who they are, that they are, and what they need in order to change.
It's not something a CEO can do with all 17,000 employees of a Fortune 500 company. But it is something team leaders can do for team members, and team members can do for one another. You don't have to love everyone, but you must care that they are persons, and have lives apart from clock-in and clock-out. A team is like a family. You get to know people, warts and all, and put up with the bad while coaxing out of them the best that is in them.
Many of the New Age management fads that have come down the pike in recent years -- empowerment, teams, the learning organization -- acknowledge, however hazily, this new level of focus on the individual. But none equip team leaders and managers with the tools to make the breakthrough to people. That's because no bullet-point list of do's and don'ts will turn someone who is not naturally interested in people into someone who is. Up and down the organizational charts of most organizations, the wrong kind of people are in charge -- people adroit at working the machine, but butterfingers when it comes to people.
Worthy organizational change initiatives fail when the people in the organization are overwhelmed and distracted by other changes, and they lose the mindspace to give the change initiative the attention it needs to succeed. A typical manager performs 125 to 150 different activities during a day. New initiatives require that each of those tasks be re-examined for validity and efficiency. How many of us have the mental liberty to do that?
The task of team leaders and managers charged with making a change initiative work is to know and understand the people involved, and to balance each person's change load so that global change, and everyday personal change do not steamroller them, and leave them flat and depleted of change power.
By understanding the people side of the process, a lot of change initiatives have not only a good chance of being effectively implemented, but of achieving the success that was hoped for them.
This is hard. A change initiative is organizational psychotherapy. It is prone to collapsing in the early stages. It is the hardest kind of change to achieve. Change initiatives are short-term revolutionary strikes, and while all evolution succeeds, most revolutions don't. The forces of entropy, the tendency to drift back into chaos, are all working against the most worthwhile efforts. To make your revolution work, you must face all the uphill adversities that every revolution faces -- the challenges of maintaining order, establishing legitimacy, getting people to move who have no reason to move for you. The challenge of change is lodged in the human skull. x
Change and the brain
We begin with the human brain. Believe it or not, we all have one. When an organization hires someone, it is really hiring their brain. Organizations talk about their people being their most valuable resource, but the brain is the real resource. An organization is a barnyard of strutting, pulsing cerebrums, all different, all incredibly subtle and talented, all desperately in need of group coordination at the same time they pursue individual goals of life, liberty and happiness. "Organizations" . is a kind description of the chaotic entities organizatons are.
The brain controls everything the body does, from lifting boxes to coming up with economy-exploding product innovations. The brain is a skein of two to four billion neurons -- pathways connecting different parts of the brain. Some of these are 12-lane super-autobahns with no speed limits, while others are donkey paths over rocky mountain trails.
How and where these paths connect determines our ability to adapt to change, and to initiate our own changes.
The three major control centers of the brain are the amygdala, the neocortex, and the prefrontal cortex. This sounds complicated, but it really isn't:
ƒ The amygdala is part of the brain called the "old brain," because it also exists in creatures with far less evolved nervous systems than ours. The amygdala governs our emotional reactions to the things we see and hear. Think of it as the Jim Carrey of the brain, holding a stick of dynamite in one hand and a lighted match in the other, with a diabolical gleam in his eye.
ƒ The neocortex is part of the "new brain," which exists only in humans, and has evolved like Topsy in the span of recordable history, quadrupling in size in the past 50,000 years. The neocortex allows for higher thinking and intellectualizing about what we see and hear. Think of someone very distanced and thoughtful here, like Sandra Day O'Connor. [Carol -- we wanted a female persona for the rational brain. Can you think of someone current, well-known, cerebral, and female? I'll go with Stephen Hawking if you can't. Ayn Rand? Madam Curie? ]
(As you might imagine, the amygdala and neocortex are not especially compatible. In fact they are always at one another's throats. The new brain is forever trying to keep the old brain from beating someone to death with a stick, or committing an emotionally satisfying social gaffe, like calling your boss a stinking maggot. The old brain , for its part, feels contempt for the new brain's inability to get off the dime and do something -- anything.)
ƒ Finally, the prefrontal cortex is the zebra-shirted referee between the two, blowing whistles and handing out penalty cards (usually in the form of guilt feelings). The prefrontal cortex is the front part of the cortex, right behind the forehead. It acts as a regulator that determines how much time one spends in an emotional reactive state or thoughtful contemplative one.
The old brain served prehistoric man well. In those days you benefited from quick, instinctual response: kill or be killed, react or die, us versus the world. There was neither time nor need for subtler reflection.
As the world evolved and became less sudden, pure survival was less of an issue. Building stable communities became the human norm. While people adapted to this changing environment, their brains grew new appendages, the neo- and prefrontal cortexes. The neocortex, a giant, ornately curling mantle wrapped around the old brain, allowed for more pre-planned experience -- picnics, planned parenthood, monogamy, war. It allows us to understand and produce language, to conceptualize and abstract, to judge, to contemplate and to plot changes in the way we behave. It is where we think, plan, and commence action. It is where we visualize the future.
Now, here's the kicker. Scientists used to be think that there was a one-way road that led from the eyes and ears directly to the neocortex, then on to the amygdala. Thus we would see or hear something, think about it, then add our emotion on top of that thought. All very civilized.
But it just isn't true. Anyone who's had a three-year-old break something precious, or whose boss has dropped a little bomb on their work priorities, knows that the emotions aren't tacked on to reactions as an afterthought. They are right there, nearly instantaneous. One's "better sense" is still taking shape while your "gut reaction" goes ballistic on you.
Some recent research into brain pathways seems to bear this out. New studies show a separate set of roads leading from the eyes and ears directly to the old brain. We thought they disappeared when the new brain showed up, but, as luck would have it, they didn't. This helps explain how we can react to something without thinking. While this can save our lives, it can also get us in tons of trouble. Ever hear, "Gee, I shouldn't have said that"? Or, "Shoot first, ask questions later?"
Despite Spandex, and talking cars, and bigger neocortexes, people have not really evolved much in the last 40,000 years. Our brains are still wired the way they were the day Thag first stepped on sharp pebbles and howled. The central observation our brains seem equipped to provide us with is this: something is familiar (good), or unfamiliar (bad).
The bottom line of our brains and change is that we react to change first, and think about our reactions later. How long we remain reactionary and emotional is determined to a very large degree by how large and how well paved the roadways are between our prefrontal and neocortexes. If the roadways are donkey trails, we react and resist change for a longer time. If they are main highways, we snap out of our instinctual emotional reaction and get on with adapting. If the roadways are damaged by illness or injury, adapting to change may be difficult if not impossible.
The moral of this information is: If you're going to use a 2x4 to get someone to change, don't hit them in the forehead.
The brain is a formidable piece of flesh, and we understand it only a little. When you consider that the task of conventional management is to get these disparate, brilliant biocomputers to do what we want, when we want, the way we want it, you have some idea of what organizational change initiatives are up against.
Your organization may not benefit in time from the next great leap forward in human evolution, as the neocortex asserts for once and for all its dominance in the way people cope with the challenges life throws at us.
But we may learn a few tricks to circumvent the tyranny of fear that our old brains impose on us. Push addresses the brain's passionate fear center, the amygdala, the Jim Carrey in us. Pull makes contact with the brain's more thoughtful reasoning center, the neocortex, the Sandra Day O'Connor in us.
Right Brains and Left Brains
You probably know something about brain hemispheres. Scientists determined back in the 1960s that the two halves of the cerebral cortex were not twin hunks of pewter-colored tissue. The left side of the cerebrum is where our logical, analytical, quantitative and fact-based thinking -- our reactive talents -- happen. It is the part of us that most instructions are written for, including change initiatives. The right brain, by contrast, is the center for the intuitive, creative, synthesizing and integrating parts of our thinking -- our proactive talents.
So we are born half poet, half actuary, and we find out early enough that we are better on one side of the equation than on the other. Some of us are hot to change, proactives, while others of us, reactives by nature, balk at it. Those who are strong on one side, who are asked to be strong on the other side, only tie themselves in knots trying to please. It is a rare renaissance-virtuoso type of person who is equally adept on both sides of the melon.
Most organizations in our time have been led not just by left-brain individuals but by left-brain ideas. Scientific management, two-column accounting, the assembly line, and bureaucracy itself are the logical products of logical minds. While people with strong analytical natures have tended to flourish in this era, people drawing on the more associational side of the brain have often felt at sea in the modern organization.
Here is the riddle we must understand: Visualizing the future is the venue of the right brain. But the task of actually constructing roads toward that vision of the future is the purview of the left. One hemisphere is not enough. It takes two to tango. An organization must link their talent together, not break it up -- that is what organizations are for.
The challenge to the team leader is to try to Pull as many people as possible, as strongly as possible, toward a point of view of optimism about a change, while simultaneously pushing those who are stuck.
Did you ever think the job of management was brain adjustment? They didn't teach it in business school, did they? Yet the manager who overlooks this fact of nature has little chance of making good change stick. x
The best evidence of the healthy brain's change capabilities is the behavior of people who have suffered damage to their brains. We all know people who have learning disorders of one sort or another. There are many different kinds of organic brain distress. But a constant among people who have suffered damage, for whatever reason -- Alzheimer's, Down's syndrome, head injury, too many drugs, too much sex -- is a powerful aversion to change.
They strongly prefer to make each day a repetition of the day before. It is the unchangingness of their daily routine that gives them a sense of hope of making it through that day. To go home on a different street, to use a different brand of mayonnaise on the sandwich, to carry money in a different set of denominations, throws them for a loop and greatly heightens their anxiety.x
Since the day after the wheel was invented, change initiatives have been instituted to overcome the negative effects of the change initiative that came just before.
The second great change initiative, quality control, was a direct consequence of the first change initiative, Frederick Winslow Taylor's scientific management. By stressing specialization, Taylor helped make possible the kind of mass manufacturing that was to lift America to the top of the heap. Quality control was the first line of defense against the shoddy production -- products that failed to meet specifications.
From the emerging quality control ethic came the call for the elimination of variation in all its guises. This makes perfect sense when describing parts coming off the factory line. It makes less sense when talking about the efforts of the people working on the line. People are different. Taylor knew this, and that is why he elected to circumscribe as much of the variation as possible: this man was a left-to-right widget turner, that man turned widgets right to left, and so on.
But the work world has moved on. Few organizations today can afford the narrow factory job descriptions Taylor recommended. Widgets have become commoditized, and anyone can turn them. The search today is for employees who can do many things. And most workers today want to do more things; they are sick of the monotony of turning, turning, turning.
So the wisdom of the age decreed that widgets should continue to be widgets, as was their custom, but that people should be allowed to be as diverse as they naturally were. All part of the modern trend toward job enhancement.
Most team leaders and managers, however, are now charged with coordinating the goals, roles, and activities of people who differ from one another in over a score of really significant ways:
It is fine and dandy to empower all these people to be themselves. But this is diversity squared, cubed, and exponentiated every which way. All these brains in the barnyard in need of corralling -- is it plausible to establish any kind of consensus or cooperation among people so different from one another?
What do you do about variation in human beings? You can't eliminate it. You can ignore it and hope it will go away, or subside. But it won't. You can't ask people to check their individuality at the door. The beauty of Taylorism was simplification -- an organization did not have to be all things to suit its workers.
A friend of ours was a disciple of W. Edwards Deming, who did more to bring the era of people-as-cogs to an end than anyone. One evening, at a dinner for Dr. Deming, our friend asked him if he could sum up his entire theory of work, production, statistics, variation, systems, knowledge and control up into a single sentence.
Deming did so in two words: "People matter." x
The brains of males and females are noticeably different in the way the right and left hemispheres of the brain interrelate. The female brains are better at crisscrossing the corpus collossum -- the space between the two brain halves. The result is that the two genders change in different ways.
The implications of crisscrossing are ominous for men. It suggests that women are natural multitaskers -- able to think about more than one objective at a time.
This multitasking ability help explain why women have historically been ghettoized into pink-collar professions -- hospitality, healthcare, teaching, telephone work, homemaking. The conclusion is inescapable: our most change-capable people are not being allowed to play their logical role in leading organizational change.x
Change and Personality
The consultants who sell us change packages never mention an obvious fact: that your workforce is not all made up of the same exact human being, with the same above-average, well-wired brain, and the same set of enthusiastic, change-happy responses.
Comparing this organization or team to your organization or team is like comparing a TV family to your family. Their family follies are all amusing, and endure 26 minutes, when you learn a life lesson that changes everyone forever. Your family follies are seldom amusing, and they can go one endlessly, with key members never quite getting whatever it is they are supposed to get.
We are different by countless different measures. You can make everyone wear a white shirt and a tie, as Ross Perot did at EDI in the 1960s -- and people would still be as different as snowflakes and fingerprints. The odds of you pronouncing the word X to your team and having everyone form the same perfect, identical X in their minds is, well, not good.
The reason was advanced by G.K. Chesterton in a 1920 story called "Surprise." The story describes a puppeteer who wished his puppets could come to life so that he could know them as individuals. When his wish comes true, he is chagrined to discover he is not fond of the particular individuals they become. They are quarrelsome, boastful, they ad-lib, the hero decides to be a villain and vice versa. They're a mess!
People are not puppets. That's the headache managers and teams must live with. We can write scripts for people, and concoct wonderful plans that by all "rational" measurement they should enlist in enthusiastically. But we are all different, with formidably free wills, and the best intentions in the world and the most intelligent organizational change initiatives can't alter that fact.
It is not even possible to address everyone at once and tell them what you want. People observe selectively, seeing what they care to see, or not seeing at all. Managers wish we were a flock of birds or school of fish, shifting without the need of visible "leadership," moving intuitively in unison with one another. But we're not. In any organization, any individual can cast a veto over any change measure, simply by digging in and opposing it. Or even more simply, by pretending it isn't happening.
Resistance doesn't even have to be a conscious act on people's parts. We can all vote on an idea, achieve a lovely degree of consensus, and still, when it's time to actually get up and go, not budge from ground zero. Some stony part of us, deep inside, has prevented the change. What is that part, and what good is it? To get the change started again, the right way, we will need to go inside ourselves, examine why our human nature balks at the challenge of the new, and figure out how to get ourselves unbalked.
You may say, "OK, scientific management is dead, and teams don't go far enough to get at the real reasons change initiatives fail. So how do I learn about the individuals I work with or supervise? Do I invite them all for sleepovers?"
You can get to know everyone on a personal basis, and you will not be sorry you did. An alternative is assessment. Psychologists have stepped in to fill the vacuum created by the collapse of scientific management, and through their understanding of human behavior have developed ways to measure and understand people's psychological types.
Psychological type is more than a casual phrase. For years psychologists have known something managers need to know much, much more about: that there are many kinds of people, that our type stays with us throughout our lives, that this diversity can be tested and labeled, and that knowing what type we are relates directly to such down-to- earth business problems as leadership development, team building, and effecting organizational change. x
The Importance of Psychological Type
Not long ago we discovered a brand new test that some psychologist in a puckish mood created. It's called the Pig Personality Profile. It's a cute satire on the cult of typology; it's also frighteningly accurate.
The testee is asked to draw a picture of a pig. How you draw it tells volumes about what kind of person you are, and how you interact with the world. How big you drew the ears, how many legs were showing, which direction it was facing -- your picture reveals everything there is to know about you. Our favorite is the relationship between the length of the pig's tail and your sex life.
After the laughter and embarrassment dies down -- the revelations about you are dead-on accurate -- you realize that the test works because people have more things in common than differences; especially when it comes to the way we view and react to change. Like the signs of the horoscope, each is true enough about us, and sympathetic enough about our natures, that we sign on to its truths. We are able, therefore, to categorize and predict how people will react to change and what can be done to make change more appealing to all types of pigs -- er, people.
To psychologists, news of a new test is as exciting as a new galaxy is to astronomers. Tests are capable of providing almost endless illumination about individuals, what makes them tick, and what ticks them off.
Using all the tests at our disposal, it is possible to slice and dice your workforce dozens of different ways, and each type tool has its uses. Here are some of the most common:
Generally, these tools can be divided into two categories: heavy duty clinical instruments and lighter duty counseling types. The heavy duty tests include the The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), and the familiar Rorschach inklot test. The lighter duty tests include the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory and the DiSC profile.
The last two are the most widely used in organizations to determine who potentially will get along great and who might attack each other with machetes. x
Building the Personality Matrix
Using elements of both the Myers-Briggs and DiSC tests, we are going to create a model for understanding personality difference in your organization, and specifically how the mix of personalities there facilitates or obstructs the process of change.
Remember the three circles -- personal change, global change, and organizational change? Our thesis was that people will not go along with any change in organizational direction or momentum unless and until they get their personal needs met in some way. Imagine a meeting room where workers are getting the lowdown about some proposed change initiative. The leader is blabbing about the new order, and people are doing their best to pay attention. Over each head you may paint a thought-balloon, and in each balloon you may write the question "What's in it for me?"
So while all people are different, we all react to change in a circumscribed range of ways.
To find the answer to that question, we must first look at the typical reactions people have to change. We can then use this understanding to develop integrated methods for introducing change with the least destructive impact.
In developing strong teams, understanding and valuing differences is essential. In adapting to change, understanding and valuing commonalties is the key. We grow by focusing on how we are unique; we progress by focusing on how we similar.
Let's take a look at the common ways people approach change based on personalities.
To begin with, set aside religion, race, right- or left-handedness, and favorite color as differentiators. There are two axes of human nature, an X and a Y, that decide our "change personalities." The horizontal X-line is a continuum of action. At the right of the line are people who are naturally proactive. They not only don't shrink from new challenges, they characteristically seek them out and initiate them on their own. They are self-starters, go-getters, proactives, natural lovers of change. They are worth their weight in gold to any enterprise because they do what must be done without being asked.
At the left end of the line are their opposites, people who naturally shy away from new challenges. They are the foot-draggers, excuse-makers, the reactives, or resisters of change. They may be nice people, but they are death to change initiatives.
What this chart means is that organizations have to expend a different amount of energy on individuals occupying different points on the horizontal. People on the proactive end of things don't need to be threatened or bribed -- they are ready for change. These people will respond perfectly to a Pull campaign, one that lets people's own inner motivation drive the change process.
People in the middle are capable of being led to change. They are the many individuals who may have personal reluctance to climb aboard a change bandwagon, but will do so if it is required of them. The strategy that best energizes them is a dose first of Push ("Less competitiveness leads to fewer employees"), then given the tools, skills, information and autonomy to begin the change journey, which gradually segues into Pull, as their own interests become apparent and acquire power.
People on the far reactive side of things are every team's nightmare. Their change space is wiped out by their kill zone. Some of them have experienced all the change they are capable of handling; their condition is like post-traumatic stress syndrome -- like combat veterans or concentration camp victims, they can't handle any more. Some are simply obtuse. These are the people who will end up serving the 80 percent who are willing to move forward. We have labeled them Fry because, if told the platform is burning, they won't be willing or able to jump into the water.
The vertical Y-line is a continuum of focus -- the dimension that people care most about. The top end of the line is a focus on the task at hand. It is where people gravitate who are all business, focused on outcomes, tasks, results, the hard-edged how-to part of work.
The bottom end is where people gravitate who are focused on processes, and people issues -- the softer, absorptive side of work.
Put the two axes together, tilt it a bit (we'll explain in a second) and you have a box into which we all fit. This is the universe of people who may be on your team, or in your charge. If there are a thousand coordinates in this box, you occupy one of them most of the time. That point describes how you likely think and feel about circumstances you find yourself in.
Why the tilt? To show that two types of personality are more extreme on the action scale than the other two. Analyticals at the extreme edge are far more reactive and change resistant than Amiables. Expressives at the extreme edge are far more proactive and willing to change than Drivers.
It is easy to see why the four types line up on opposite ends of the action spectrum. We will describe each type, with a thumbnail sketch of extreme cases of each type:
ƒ Drivers are people who are willing to lead. They do not shrink from commitment -- expressing their own or eliciting others'. Strong drivers are natural metaphiles, cheerful embracers of the new and untested. Remember the change space diagram, with the three circles representing global, organizational and personal change, and the kill zone in the middle? A metaphile's change space would have a very limited kill zone -- there s little they will not give serious consideration to. Drivers are firmly rooted in the present moment, and they are lovers of action. Their great strength: results. If you want a job discussed, talk to one of the other three types; if you want it done, take it to a Driver. They make great leaders because they are natural taskmasters. They aren't the most reflective people in the world, but they make up for that in energy, efficiency, and will power. Pushed to the brink, Drivers become tyrants.
ƒ Expressives are people endowed with a hefty amount of imagination, intuition, and creativity. Their natural mode is exploration. At the extreme, they are metamaniacs, so enamored of change that they have to be changing to function. The metamaniac can be represented by three non-overlapping circles; they are so loose they are able to partition their entire lives into discreet, non-conflicting zones. They look at the world in fresh ways, always wondering what the future has in store for them. For inspiration they look forward. They are not the most reliable people, in terms of straight answers or objective reporting. They are gloriously sloppy. Their minds keep supplying new facts that they like better than the "real" facts. Pushed to the brink, Expressives can react savagely, by attacking.
ƒ Amiables are the people everyone else loves to have around. Every nutty go-go Driver needs an Amiable as a spouse, someone who smiles and shrugs and loves and forgives. Amiables have a tendency to be metaphobes, people disinclined by nature to enjoy change. A metaphobe's change space would have a noticeably larger kill zone than the metaphile. Their change mode is resistance. Amiables feel great pressure from the three quadrants of their life, and it causes them to lock up. Amiables are "people people," expert at relationships, and their orientation is the past, the present and the future -- wherever people have needs, and may be hurt. They are nature's diplomats -- they know how to consult without ruffling feathers. They may have terrific opinions and extraordinary talents -- but they may be more interested to know yours. Pushed to the brink, their response may be to cry or cave in.
ƒ Analyticals are tight, but they are also usually right. These are the perfectionists of the world, dotting every i and crossing every t. They are gatekeepers by nature, barring entry to the unknown until they are proven safe. Their change mode is denial. They may be brilliant doing what they do best, but at the extreme, they are metamorons, people to whom change is anathema, completely unacceptable. A metamoron's change space would be three circles almost overlapping, creating a huge kill zone, annihilating any idea that comes within range. Their change space is their kill zone! When it comes to change, Analyticals are the victims of their own clarity. Their facts must be the right facts, and this need for certainty wreaks havoc with the spirit of experimentation. Analyticals are trustworthy because their sense of order prevents them from taking liberties. They occupy the reactive wing because they are incapable of precipitous action. They lose themselves in the task -- and lose perspective in the process. They look backward for inspiration. As the saying goes, accountants make poor generals, even in today's JIT army. Pushed to the brink, Analyticals usually duck under the table.
That's what we have to work with. Team leaders and managers need to address individuals on the basis of both their horizontal (Reactive/Proactive) and vertical (Task/People) predilections. You don't send a metamaniac to remedial quality class, and you don't give a metamoron a pilot program to run.
On the horizontal, the Proactives are constantly pushing for change. They are metaphiles searching for a better way, a different way, continuous improvement. They are the Drivers and Expressives in the DiSC Profiles and the high S's and N's (Sensors and Intuitives) of the Myers-Briggs test. Since these folks are already in continuous flight, they need to be guided by a Pull strategy of compelling vision and purpose.
The Reactives (Analyticals, Amiables, or high T's and F's (Thinkers and Feelers), on the other hand, are constantly resisting change. They are metaphobes searching for ways to cling to the past and not having to generate the energy necessary to tolerate any change. Since they are looking for ways to remain the same, a Push strategy of fear will get them going. Once on their way bouncing down the hallways, however, a Pull strategy will keep them from hitting too many walls on their trip.
On the vertical, you have your Task (outcome oriented) People, who see change as a set of outcomes, goals, or steps to be followed to achieve specific results. And you have your People (process oriented) People, who see change as a process of gaining comfort (moving operating comfort zones) while reducing the negative stress on people. x
If all this sounds complicated, it is. Think of it as living with a house with four pets, each requiring a different level and kind of attention. The Driver is the dog that you let out at night, and he roams through the countryside on his own. Your task is to make sure he's not out there knocking over garbage cans; apart from that, leave him alone. What he needs more than anything is food and fresh water.
The Expressive is a canary, singing away for all she's worth. That song is a day-brightener for all who hear her; but she may need a drape over her cage at night, or her expressive energy will drain everyone's ability to work. Hold her on your finger and tell her how special she is.
The Analytical is the pet rat, intelligent, purposeful, and thorough in all things. She needs to stack those pellets on the north wall of her tank, and keep the area policed. She needs privacy and respect.
The Amiable is the cat who derives meaning just from brushing up against your leg, and purring in your lap. He believes he is providing a valuable service just by being there and emitting positive vibes. He needs to be petted, and to know how valuable he is. x
1 Alvin Toffler, Future Shock, Random House, 1970
2 Ira Chaleff, "Overload can be overcome," Industry Week. June 7, 1993, p. 44
3 Heraclitus was a 1st century blah blah blah
4 Robert Ornstein, the Evolution of Consciousness, Prentice Hall, 1991
5 Mike Bourcier, "The Right-Brain Way to Manage Change," CMA, June 1995
6 We came upon this story in a book by historian Garry Wills, Certain Trumpets. Wills uses the story to describe the challenge of leadership. It illustrates the dilemma of group change equally well.
7 For another fascinating spoof on personality tests, visit "Kingdomality" on the World Wide Web. It is a questionnaire that asks you about your likes and dislikes, and then tells you what job you would be most qualified for in the task-intensive Medieval Period. http://www.cmi-lmi.com/kingdom.html
8 This model is drawn from the behavioral typology ideas of David Merrill at Tracom, in Denver, Colo.
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