Home » B822:Creativity, Innovation and Change » Is labelling people with results from inventories such as ‘Kirton Adaptor Innovator’ or ‘Myers Briggs Type Indicator’ (KAI/MBTI) such an excellent way to ‘reduce the range of their possible behaviours’?

Is labelling people with results from inventories such as ‘Kirton Adaptor Innovator’ or ‘Myers Briggs Type Indicator’ (KAI/MBTI) such an excellent way to ‘reduce the range of their possible behaviours’?

Discuss, asks an exam question from B822 ‘Creativity, Innovation & Change’

This one got my goat, which may be a good thing as I’d probably execute the thing in a state of quiet anger, adrenalin pumping and doing a brain extraction at speed and with passion.

I have an issue with ‘labelling’ anyone as restrictive. In any case, Kirton himself talks of people ‘reverting to type’ under stress as if being stressed is the modus operandi. Kirton puts me well into the innovator camp, however under stress I become an autocratic, process focused adaptor. (I like to find others to take the stress, which in advertising/agency work is the account handler, and when I had one as a writer/director, an agent or publisher to handle the opportunities and the c/r/a/p)

Whilst KAI mostly and MBTI in part, with a nod to Belbin Team roles (however much decried) it is vital to balance the benefits and problems with inventories, so mention:

  • fallibility
  • reliability
  • acceptance
  • interpretation
  • cost
  • universal/updated
  • as well as the context, time and their use.

I would query the use of the word ‘excellent’ in the question too, as dependant on context and application; it is a subjective, value judgment.

I question ‘reducing’ range of favours as wrong-headed, that it is better to manage like a sports coach, to identify, enhance and develop traits that are beneficial rather than in any way draw attention to behaviours that are ‘undesirable’ or at most ‘not required’. (I’m a professional swim coach so may draw on some theory and experience in the largest Swimming Club in the South of England).

Using one’s own Myers Briggs indicator seems inevitable here. I came out as:

  • ‘ENFP’. How does this inform my response to the question?
  • ‘does things differently’ so in theory am useful at times of change.
  • ‘challenges and reframe’ so add value through innovation
  • ‘offers many solutions’ and am ‘inclined to indiscipline’ both which may therefore relate to the question and a need to ‘reduce the range of behaviours’ ?
  • takes risks which in the right context may be either highly desirable or undesirable.
  • something of an idealist, again context matters as I respond to visionary leadership and wilt where it is lacking.

My NEO-FIVE was revealing too, and once again, may help me answer this question (if of course I have understood the question) as taming or ameliorating behaviours.

I’d need to list:

  1. Openness
  2. Conscientiousness
  3. Extrovert
  4. Agreeableness
  5. Sensitivity

and whether I can recall the score or not at least recall that in relation to the mean I am significantly diverged from the mean in relation to ‘Openness’ (I am open to the degree of exposure and making myself vulnerable and may do the same for a project or organisation); I am hugely diverged from ‘conscientiousness’ (I am very much so) and ‘Sensitivity’ (ditto).

See, I’m prone to excessive ‘openness’.

‘Reduce the range or behaviours’ in this case if I reduce myself to an ‘example’ or ‘case study’ requires compensatory actions.

Specifically in the creative industries there are stories of highly creative types whose ‘sensitivity’ is legend, in my experience (not me!) a v. successful creative now the Creative Head of one of the largest agencies on the planet, back in the late 1980s threw a video recorder out of the agency window when he disagreed with the producer of his TV commercial. Did this person need what Goleman (1998) calls ’emotional maturity’? Letting a ‘creative’ be so is the way to get the best from them, and in less extreme or pressured circumstances those who come up with ideas and innovate, whether products, processes or services require careful handling. The opera sometimes needs a prima donna? Are athletes and sports people ‘creative’ some would say so?

So, pluralism and acceptance, not reducing behaviours favourable to creativity, indeed nurturing creative ‘types’ and playing to their strengths is going to be the best approach. Respect difference and deal with the reality.

Is that Goleman too?

Motivation (and nurturing) is key: climate, customer, mentality, procedure, communication (Brown, 1988)

Once again, a twisting though ultimately conclusive response? Or have I gone off on a tangent.


1 Comment

  1. Luke Firth says:

    Aside from the creative director, have you ever seen somebody actively revert to type? In some of my early management learning we would cover “types” as part of the getting to know you section of the course/seminar. Sadly it resulted in people uses their types as excuses, e.g. “I’m not going to do the detailed specification, as Belbin says i’m a plant and i’m an E on my MBTI”
    I think the apprentice might be livened up if that was the first thing they did!

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