The Integration And Use Of Myers Briggs Profiles With A TRIZ Problem Solving Session
When TRIZ is brought into an organization, it is almost always tied to an existing improvement process or innovation structure. This has been readily done in many organizations that are already using broader enterprise tools such as QFD or Six Sigma.
What we fail to recognize is that the organization into which TRIZ is introduced also has a psychological profile and that profile is not only measurable, but is usually known. In the March 2001 issue of the TRIZ Journal, the relationship between the Kirton KAI profile of an individual and their approach to TRIZ and its software tools was explored. This instrument measures very accurately an individual’s problem-solving style and the organizational style that person uses in problem solving, and can be used to proactively structure a TRIZ session to take advantage of these differences.
In this article I want to review an even more widely used assessment tool-the Myers Briggs assessment, and its use in a TRIZ session. The Myers Briggs assessment is probably the most widely used and known assessment tool in the industrial world. Many individuals are aware of their “MBTI” profile (i.e. ESTJ or INTP), but few proactively use it to improve their working relationships.
Myers Briggs Type Indicator
The MBTI gives people insights into their natural behavior and attitudes, identifying sixteen different patterns possible through the four pairs of preferences that follow the theory of Carl Jung. The perceiving processes are the drivers of Jung’s model.
The first personality dimension that is measured is extroversion and introversion (“E” and “I” on the MBTI grid. These dimensions measure the degree to which a person focuses outward from self for stimulation and direction or inward to the world of concepts, ideas, and thoughts. “I”s tend to be more thoughtful, contemplative, and reflective. They enjoy privacy and quiet time and tend to filter half-baked ideas. “E”s are action oriented, impulsive, like to think out loud, throwing out half-baked ideas. They are more outgoing and sociable.
The second personality dimension is sensing vs. intuition. “Sensing” (“S” on the MBTI grid) is the term used for perceiving concrete things by using the senses-sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Sensing (“S”) types want to start with what is known and real-solid ground-relying on actual experience and proven results, not theory. They approach change slowly, carefully, incrementally, and critically. Sensing types are the most resistant to change. “Intuition” (N on the MBTI grid) is the term used for perceiving abstract things such as meanings, relationships, and possibilities through insight. Intuitive (“N”) types like complexity and theoretical relationships and connections between things. They have the ability to see future possibilities, often unusual and abstract ones, using imagination and theory. They rely on inspiration rather than past experiences. They approach change openly and optimistically. Intuitive types are the most receptive to change.
The next dimension is thinking vs. feeling. Thinking (“T” on the MBTI grid) is the term used for the process of logical and impersonal decision making. Thinking (“T”) types apply logical analysis to allow them to weigh facts and examine consequences objectively. They develop attitudes of impartiality, a sense of fairness and justice, and tough-minded objectivity. Feeling (“F”) on the MBTI grid is the term used for arriving at conclusions through a process of appreciation employing a system of subjective personal values. Feeling (“F”) types develop personal values and standards and typically develop a warm understanding of people, compassion, empathy, and a need for harmony.
The last parameter is a measure of how people run their lives. It is a measure of how individuals apply the sensing/intuition and thinking/feeling functions in their lives. This is evaluated as judging (“J”) and perceiving (“P”). Judging is convergent, driving toward closure and results. Organization, schedules, plans, and priorities are important. A perceiving attitude is divergent, open, flexible, and unconstrained. This person is always trying to keep things open for new possibilities as long as possible and does not want to miss anything.
These preferences can be summarized as follows:
These preferences, in turn create sixteen possible combinations, traditionally arranged in a matrix as seen in this table. These are the four letter descriptors that will be referred to in this study.
If the MBTI profiles of the TRIZ problem-solving group can be obtained ahead of time, then this information can be used in a TRIZ session in the following ways:
E vs. I: The session facilitator, aware of these differences, can assure active participation by specifically calling on “I” individuals, asking them to lead team efforts within the session, and to report on various activities during the session. The point here is to use the profile information to ensure all members of the group participate and contribute.
S vs. N: Participants with “S” profiles can be used to clearly identify facts, information, and data that are required to evaluate an idea or concept. Participants with “N” profiles can be asked to suggest and evaluate less concrete aspects of ideas generated. They can also feel freer to propose less concrete uses of an idea
T vs. F: Participants with “T” profiles can best be used to plan “next steps”, create action lists, critical path diagrams, “do lists”, etc. while “F” profile individuals can more appropriately assess the people aspects of a new idea or the impact on particular people and various organizational practices.
J vs. P: “J” profile individuals drive toward closure. They can be matched with the short-term aspects of the output of a TRIZ session and assigned responsibilities for these activities. “P” profile individuals can be assigned the task of looking at the longer-range possibilities of some of the less focused TRIZ ideas. They can also be assigned the responsibility of looking at how other industries handle similar problems, looking for wider, less focused connections.
The use of the skill set within the group in this way can greatly improve both the output of a TRIZ session and the long-term implementation of its results.