Tag Archives: MBTI

Insights vs MBTI: Am I an Extrovert?

Last week I went through our corporate Discovery Insights training. My MBTI preference is ISTP so I was curious what the difference would be after my Insights assessment given both instruments are based on Jungian Theory.


My type is ISTP = Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving. In a nutshell, my preference is introverted thinking which means I take data in though my senses and internalize before responding. I’m open to change and have little need for details and closed-ended outcomes. Again, this is a preference, not a stereotype or rule. There are 16 types.

My temperament, according to David Keirsey’s temperaments is SP or Artisan. Artisan’s are fun loving, creative and unconventional according to Keirsey. I suppose that’s why I did the moonwalk at the enterprise standup today to wake up the monday morning zombies. Seriously, it was awesome. There are 4 temperaments.

I’ve done the MBTI assessment 3 times over the last 5 years and it’s been the same every time.


Much like DISC, Insights is another interpretation of Jungian Theory. It’s based on separating the introvert/extrovert preference and the thinking/feeling preference into colours. My Insights preference is Yellow (extroverted feeling), Red (extroverted thinking), Green (introverted feeling), Blue (introverted thinking). That makes me “sunshine yellow”! On a side note, my dad’s nickname at work was Grumps. “Grumps” was written on the front of his hard hat. He worked as a boilermaker from the day he graduated high school to the day he retried and yes, he can be one grumpy sumbitch. I have inherited some of that grumpiness so needless to say, I was surprised to see “sunshine yellow” as my preference.

The “yellow-red” combination shows an extroverted preference and very much aligns with the SP temperament. The “blue”, being my fourth colour, aligns with the J/P of MBTI. I’m not big on details, like open-ended scenarios and generally tune out when there is too much detail.

That said, I like having fun at work, sometimes too much fun and I do wear my heart on my sleeve. It was a riot when we broke into type-like groups which magnified the differences.

The difference between MBTI and Insights, for me, was that my MBTI preference and dominant function was introverted thinking whereas “yellow” from Insights is extroverted feeling. Quite different. Again, this is preference, not stereotyping or a rule. Both instruments use core Jungian Theory as far as Attitude ( extrovert/introvert), Functions (sensing/intuition for information processing, thinking/feeling for response) and Lifestyle (perceiving/judging).

Both my MBTI profile and my Insights profile were bang on except that my insights profile mentioned I have a large circle of friends and acquaintances which isn’t the case. I prefer alone time to big group time unless I know everyone in the group!

I’m not anti-social, I simply like ‘me’ time and I think extroversion is something I’ve actively developed given the type of work I do. Put me in a party and I b-line for people I know, unless it’s my wife’s Zumba party in which case I get jiggy wit it.

Now that I’ve been assessed with both instruments, I find that Insights is easier to grok. Colours are easier to remember, although I’ve been studying MBTI as a hobby for a few years so I have a pretty good understanding of it.

I liked Insights because we went into details about how each colour reacts under stress. We talked about good days, bad days and how to figure out which “colour preference” others have so you can understand them better. Again, the same as MBTI, it’s not an instrument to label people. The delivery of the Insights material is easier to understand, especially for people like me with less than stellar attention to detail. Colour good. Details bad.

The same things that stress out an Artisan also stress out a “sunshine yellow” preference. Forced structure, rules, severe constraints and incompetence. My biggest confusion was the drastic difference in introverted vs extroverted preference. I’m sure that since my MBTI preference resulted in a preference for introversion, I developed a bias towards it, after all, many people are surprised when I tell them I’m an introvert. Maybe I’m not?

Ok, I’m rambling now, which is a trait of “sunshine yellow”. We tend to think by talking (an extroverted trait) and we tend to be noisy listeners which is why I often don’t shut up sometimes. We also tend to write smiley faces on stuff and cross out the word “resources” with “people” on sticky notes.

I firmly believe understanding whichever Jungian Theory you like best is a key to managing responses to change. All this ‘doing vs being Agile’ crap is just that. Crap. Culture is a collection of the behaviours of the people in the organization and people have natural preferences. Telling people to adopt a mindset that is at odds with their core preference is not likely to work. After all, I am a control freak and its taken years to tone that down. I still have lots of work to do on that front.

I doubt I’ll find an organization that will optimize their work to the level I want to, but as an Inspirer (sunshine yellow) success for me is when I inspire people see that there is a better way to work and they find a way to change their crappy organization or change their crappy organization.

Do I inspire you?

Complexities of Culture

There were a few great discussions about culture and the impact organizational culture has on how you can approach Agile transformation or adoption at this weekend’s Toronto Agile Open Space.  During one session we dove deeper into the people behind the culture and talked about why labelling an organization with a certain culture and thereby aligning practices to that culture isn’t as simple as it appears to be.

Take the example we used of a control culture.  Control cultures, as defined by William Schneider, succeeds by getting and maintaining control.  At it’s best, control cultures can be extremely efficient when  they optimize their rules and processes and at their worst can spin without progress while trying to strictly define and optimize those rules.   The Re-Engineering Alternative goes into greater depth about the strengths and weaknesses of each of the 4 culture types (control, collaboration, cultivation, competence).

What I disagreed with in our discussion is the assumption that Kanban aligns well with control culture.  It’s not that simple.  An organization may have a dominant culture of control, and depending on the size of the organization, teams and departments will establish their own identity and sub-culture.   From a management or executive perspective, Kanban, and more specifically Lean, *can* align well with control cultures because of the explicit tools and practices, the visibility of the work, cycle-time, lead-time and a whole host of deliberate practices that give managers and leaders data they need to find problems and make improvements.  More plainly stated, it’s not the fluffy Agile stuff that means absolutely nothing to a new CEO who has 2 years to get profitable.

What about the team level?  Teams within control cultures can use whatever method works best for them like Scrum, XP or Kanban….or anything else for that matter.  Taking this a step further, at an enterprise or portfolio level in an enterprise organization, Kanban can be quite effective for visualizing projects, programs, products and more.  Enterprise organizations have much more complex systems where work flows through and have, dare I say it, handoffs to downstream teams or departments.  Purists obviously will challenge that with the typical “build cross-functional teams, hug everybody, break down those silos!” and while I agree on a principles level, reality in some enterprise organizations is that their structure isn’t able to support that.    Yet.  As an example, while working in a large enterprise organization, it took us 5 months to get approval to get a cross-functional team together and we had to plug-in our output to downstream “traditional” groups.

Another example, I’m working in an enterprise transition now and we’re using Kanban across the portfolio, plugging functional groups into each other by making the work visible and eventually we will (or might) have some dedicated project teams that make use iterative approaches, including Scrum.  We can roll up project and program status from any team or functional group area into a larger Kanban system that speaks  to management by showing them flow, which is what they are concerned about.    That will help us define capacity, set expectations, find bottlenecks and determine our next transformation steps.  Kanban is much less disruptive and sometimes it’s a better choice to start with, again, read the system and decide what’s best.  Scrum will expose dysfunction quickly and painfully and I find novice coaches preach the Scrum gospel without ever actually having worked in an enterprise where there are strong functional silos, finger pointing and sometimes anger towards other groups.  I’ve been there.  A few times.  I’m actually a bit miffed at myself for being a “beat you with the Agile stick” guy earlier in my career.

Semi-rant over.

Then we got into the people aspect of culture.  Again in this session the topic of “how can we manage resistance” came out.    Read my last post about that. Resistance is a surface response.  Imagine you are a developer and someone comes up to you and says “I have this great book on TDD I think you should read.  It’ll really help you.”  How would that make you feel?  Bringing in Kanban, Scrum, XP, Zomblatt or any other change is a change.  People transition through change no matter what their organizational culture is and it’s pretty ridiculous, IMO, to say one method is going to work better in a certain culture without considering the people being affected by the change.  If people were fungable, meat-based, programming units, or robots, maybe it would be that simple.

Take me for example.  I love change because I love solving problems and change brings problems for me to solve.  That’s who I am, it took me years to understand that and learn patience.  Someone who loves detailed plans and doesn’t like un-certainty may naturally fight against change because that’s who they are.  Someone who loves people will feel they need to make sure everyone going through the change is ok.  Some people find change exciting because it’s new and shiny.  All these people will be affected by change in different ways.  You know that guy in the meeting who doesn’t agree with everybody else about  the newest change to that process?  There’s a reason why.  Maybe he doesn’t understand what the change is.  Maybe be doesn’t see the need for the change.  Maybe he’s in the wrong meeting room. Maybe he is just being an asshole.   Listen to his opinion, show him you understand and move on.

Here’s a diagram of how the 4 MBTI temperaments can be affected by change.  Again, people aren’t robots, there are extremes to temperaments as well, I am strongly introverted.  So introverted in fact after the open space I had to run home to a dark corner to get my energy back even though everybody else went out for drinks.  I’m working with a strongly extroverted fellow and sometimes I have to tell him I need time to internalize when he’s flying at million miles and hour!

This is the Satir change model.  A change (foreign element) is introduced and you spiral into chaos until you hit the transforming idea.  Then you integrate the transforming idea into your identity and arrive at the new status quo.  I’m the blue guy (SP).  “Yay, problems to solve!!!”  This is great for me, maybe no so great for the SJ (Orange).  I can bring in change for the sake of change leaving the SJ to thrash in chaos which will inevitably frustrate them and then they could be labelled as “resistant” or “not a team player” because they won’t go along with that change.  The NF (green) simply may want to hug everybody and try to satisfy everyone affected by the change.  By the time you read this, the NT (red) has already gotten bored and moved on.

Again, these are based on natural preferences of temperaments and they will hold some truths for some people, people are too complex to say “because I’m an SP I can’t learn empathy to help people transition”  Types and temperaments aren’t to be used to pigeon-hole people, I use them to be aware of myself and my natural tendencies so I can adjust to others around me.

Understanding organizational culture is important, understanding the people within that culture is much more important.

If you’re interested more in this topic, Don Gray and I are doing a half-day workshop on people and culture at Agile 2012.


People Create Your Culture

Last week I ran a trial run of a session Don Gray and I are working on at XP Toronto.  This session was a result of a session we did at AYE this year about MBTI and corporate culture.

Hypothesis: Is there a way to increase the odds of a successful change by understanding your organization culture from Schneider’s culture model and how the MBTI (temperament and function pairs) of the people involved in the change fit into each of the four culture types.

Here’s how I ran the session:

  1. Brief introduction to MBTI so people can become familiar with the model.  I use my type (ISTP/INTP) to describe the model.  For this session we feel function pairs (how people process data and make decisions) are better suited than temperament.  The four function pairs are ST, SF, NT, NF.
  2. Exercise to help people figure out their MBTI function pairing.  I assumed most people wouldn’t know their type so 4 statements were given and people decided what statement most closely defined their stance.
  3. People split into 4 groups based on their function pairing and created a mission statement and described what a successful ‘agile adoption or transformation’ would look like.
  4. Each group de-briefed
  5. Each person wrote their function pairing on a sticky note and posted them on the Schneider culture quadrant where they felt most reflected the type of organization they would want to work in.  The culture types were not given, only descriptions of them.
  6. Group discussion

Overall the goal of this exercise was to see how MBTI function pairings and temperament related to organizational culture.  The exercises were planned to not introduce bias by giving participants the labels of the function pairs and organizational cultures.

Here’s a picture of the Schneider culture quadrants and each participants function pairing sticky (click to enlarge):


  1. Crowd bias: given this was an XP Toronto meetup, the group agreed crowd-bias came into effect where most skewed towards Cultivation and the ‘possibility’ axis.
  2. During the exercises, each function pairing group seemed to come up with a mission statement that aligned with the values of their function pairing.  For example, the NF group’s statement was “am someone who is guided by my passions and beliefs, has a sixth sense about people, and works to ensure harmony in the workplace”  Their mission statement was “In our organization we work to common goals, make the best possible work environment to maximize our people’s potential
  3. The “NT” group didn’t finish composing their mission statement.  The NT pairing is all about ideas and it’s common for lots of idea generation without a firm decision compared to other groups.
  4. The “ST” group had the least number of ideas and they were more firm and concrete.   The ST group also finished all the exercises much quicker.
  5. The “ST” group debated about having highly specialized people vs more general specialists.

Virginia Satir Change Model:

We also mapped temperaments to the Virginia Satir change model and discussed how different temperaments are affected differently by change.  SJ (sensing/judging) want to remain in the status quo to protect the group.  NT’s (Intuitive/Thinking) tend to want to progress through the change as fast as possible and react with more ideas to changes that have yielded no results yet.  SP’s (Sensing/Perceiving) want to move through the change as fast as possible to find the next problem to solve.  NF’s (Intuitive/Feeling) want to make sure everybody is ok while the change is happening.

Combining the Schneider Culture model, MBTI and Virginia Satir change model can be an effective way to create awareness around an organization and it’s people to increase the odds of a successful change.  I’ve often heard the Agile community say things like “change is hard”, “culture is important” and “one-size-agile doesn’t fit all”.  I think the intersection of the these models is the “why” behind those statements.

I want to offer this workshop again to collect more data, if you are interested, please contact me!