MBTI Typology and the Disruption Economy (part I)


Didier Marlier

June 18, 2022

From Disruption to Engagement

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M.B.T.I. (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) is one of the World’s most used and researched psychometrics. Invented by Mrs Briggs and her daughter, Mrs Myers, it refers to the typology of one of psychology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis “geniuses”, the Swiss Medical Doctor and researcher, Carl Jung. It is not and never, ever should be taken for, nor used as an assessment tool. All of us, duly certified to use it, have signed on our honour, a promise in that sense. Head hunters, consultants and other assessment centres using M.B.T.I. with any idea of a judgment or capability behind it are either ignorant, crooks or dishonest (or the three together). This tool is just a preference indicator, helping the person taking the test to understand the sort of conditions they prefer, in order to do and be their best. One of my clients had been awarded “Best CFO of the Year” title in the country he operated in. His preference was the same as an artist working for an ad-agency, very far from the expected profile of “the ideal” CFO. The site to take the official M.B.T.I. test is the one of the Foundation, in France , there is another excellent and well researched site (Osiris) about a similar tool, the poorly designed but amazingly rich, Socionics site (Socionics is the result of Jung’s works developed in the defunct USSR) and a multitude of other free site, the most popular and respectable being 16personalities.com, offering a wide range of languages, that doesn’t need a certified coach to take it and offers results comparable with the official sites. They just add here and there a few, not necessarily Jung related “innovations” that are more confusing than clarifying (5 preferences vs 4, nicknames, not always meaningful etc.)

My partners and I tend to use it regularly (along with others such as Belbin, FIRO-B, Neurocolours, etc.) in our individual/team coaching practices, not because we think it is the sole best but because it is widely researched and used and allows to go deeper and deeper (see the incredible research led by our friends of Action Types, applying M.B.T.I. to sports) into the understanding of one’s preferences.

M.B.T.I. implying 16 different types (that is a lot), I prefer to use the four temperaments, invented by an ex-M.B.T.I. director, David Keirsey, who has clustered the 16 types in four distinct and well recognisable families:

  • SJ’s: nicknamed “the Guardians”, their personal values evolve around themes such as Loyalty, Responsibility, Collectivism before Individualism and Truth. They bring depth, stability, perfection(ism) and reliability to an organisation. They require to understand the What and How, in order to engage. Rules, roles, procedures and hierarchy are necessary evils that they respect, if not promote. The national culture of countries such as China, Germany, Japan or Switzerland are stereotypes of the SJ mindset. Germany’s iconic sports car is the Porsche 911. No bells and whistles but 85% of them are still driven!
  • SP’s: nicknamed “the Trouble shooters” and, when there aren’t troubles to shoot, they might be seen as “troublemakers”. Two “values” truly matter to them: Freedom and Fun. They are usually very popular amongst the environment they operate in. Their troubleshooting preference has them recognised as generous helpers. They constantly need to renovate or improve things. And their biggest joy is to come back with a far better, cheaper and higher quality solution, if that one does it by ignoring procedures. They are born entrepreneurs. They learn by doing far more than on school or college benches. They need to experiment. They have an incomparable talent in creating a dynamic, fast changing, continuously improving and fun working environment around them. The “Yellow Jacket” part of the French culture (those amongst our French friends instantaneously wondering how to go around a newly edicted law) or my Belgian compatriots living one of the best economic phases of the country’s life when they had no government for 18months, are stereotypes of the SP preference. Fire brigade, emergencies, doctors operating on the battlefield, extreme sports addicts, but also sales recovery, after sales and all those geniuses working for antivirus companies may have an SP preference (but, remember the “artist CFO”: Anyone can be what they decide to be, regardless of their preference).
  • NT’s: nicknamed “The Architects” or “The Visionaries”. The France of the Hautes Ecoles”, Presidents Macron or Giscard d’Estaing, Silicon Valley, an amazing proportion of CEO’s and Board members, respond to that preference. Their intuition (N) pushes them towards challenging the status quo and coming with breakthrough strategies but they reassure shareholders and financial analysts through their rationality (T). They value intellectual integrity and Trust (which has to be earned for them as it is so critical to the relationship), are “intellectual elitists” (which by no way means “arrogant”) and worship competence (they prefer “constructive”, tough feedback but they only negative reaction they may have to it is when it suggests they, themselves, were “vaguely competent”). They create cultures of progress, ambition, intellectual vision. The other side of the coin is that the bar they place at a very high level through elitism, might rapidly destroy Psychological Safety. Their reliance on “convincing through their exceptional Logos” exposes them to the sad surprise that… no one follows them. In order to move from intention to action, people need that Pathos comes to support Logos.
  • NF’s: nicknamed “The Idealists” or “Catalysts”. They move people. They are naturally charismatic, since blending Logos, Ethos and Pathos is what they are naturally gifted for. They are passionate people for… the worse (Adolf Hitler and many other divisive leaders catering and manipulating the lowest instinct of their citizens) to the best (Gandhi, Jacinda Ardern etc…) They engage (more than convince), they superimpose a higher cause upon the strategy. The downside of this preference is that, whereas NT’s may rely too much on their superior Logos, NF’s seem to believe that their passion and emotions will positively contaminate their interlocutor who will stand-up and follow them wholeheartedly… Wrong (and being one of them, I speak out of experience)! The passion of NF’s may create a deep discomfort into others who feel it irrational and intruding. NF’s also draw on the passion inspired by the cause they chose to fight for. As soon as their colleagues, hierarchy or organisation seems to betray those values, they instantaneously lose interest.

But, this long summary (aimed at those of you who may have forgotten about MBTI or discover it here) isn’t the main purpose of this article. In two successive articles, I will offer to explore and reflect on how each one of these preferences may strive and contribute to success in the Disruption Economy and which “Coping Mechanisms” it could rely on, in order to minimise the downside of the “VUCA World”.




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