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  • How to Communicate More Empathetically with TIPS?

    “When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.” 

    - Stephen Covey

    Let’s face it: In business, we regularly need to convince people to embrace a new idea, to share our vision of a better future, to buy a new product, or take any other meaningful course of action. To convince people of a new idea, better communicate with empathy. Relate to their ways and show sympathy to their desires, wants, and needs. But how can you do this? How can you find out what makes them tick? Today, let’s discuss how you can communicate with greater empathy with the help of TIPS, Thinkergy’s cognitive profiling test for business and innovation.

    What does it mean to communicate and convince empathetically?

    Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. On the other hand, communication means the imparting or exchange of information or news; the term can also be defined as the successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings. Finally, to convince means to persuade someone to do something .

    Taken all together, we can say that when we communicate empathetically, we successfully convey information and share ideas and feelings with another person while being able to relate to and understand their feelings, wants, and needs. We want to communicate with greater empathy to persuade people to do something we believe is good for them.

    Why should you communicate more empathetically?

    “Empathy is one of our greatest tools of business that is most underused.”

    - Mexican-American billionaire businessmen Daniel Lubetzky

    When we empathize while communicating with other people, we pay respect to their world views and their preferred styles to think, work, interact, and live. We sympathize with their points of view. We talk the same language as them. We relate to their wants, desires and needs. We feel their challenges and pains. We put ourselves in their shoes and walk a mile in these to experience the world as they do. Showing empathy makes us aware that for most situations in business and life, there is more than just one truth. In short, sympathizing with others and communicating with greater empathy makes it easier to create win-win solutions. 

    How to plan and structure a more empathetic communication

    Widely popular in marketing, advertising, and sales, the AIDA model (attention, interest, desire, action) can help us to think about the different phases of empathetic communication:

    • Approach and attention: How to best approach people with a particular personality? How to best reach out and connect with them? How to get their attention?
    • Interest: How to open them up? How to engage them and get them interested in a topic?
    • Desire: How to make them gain a favorable disposition towards an idea? How to find a shared point of view that aligns both interests? What triggers can alleviate their pain or inspire their desire? 
    • Action: How to convince them and make them agree to a mutually beneficial course of action?

    It is important to point out that communicating with empathy and respect isn’t the same as manipulating people. When we interact empathetically, we look for ways to convince others to take a beneficial course of action that is good for them and us (win-win). In contrast, when someone communicates with the intent to manipulate, that person typically wants to influence others to take a particular action that solely or predominantly benefits themselves (win-lose).

    How to communicate more empathetically with people from different TIPS bases

    While you may not be able to guess someone’s TIPS profile right away, you probably have a rough idea about which TIPS base orientation a particular colleague or client of yours is attracted to. Your intuition about a person’s likely TIPS base may serve as a gauge to direct your communication approach. You may gain further hints if you listen for certain keywords that people of the different TIPS base tend to use frequently. (I discussed this in an earlier article  titled What “keywords” reveal about people’s personality). 

    So how can we communicate with greater empathy with the people from each TIPS base? 

    How to communicate more empathetically with “T-People” at the Theories-base?

    Approach & attention: Most people you find at the Theories-base (“T-People”) tend to be more private. If you want to initially make contact with them, then best do it in writing via email or more sophisticated social media such as LinkedIn. Before you compose your message, find out more about what’s their expertise. Then, ask a few precise questions to get them talking (such as “What research project do you currently work on?” or “What book are you reading at the moment?”). If you want to meet them in person, be respectful and courteous, and avoid “invading their space”. Ask for permission first before entering their office (e.g., “Excuse me, may I have a moment of your time?”).

    Interest: Prepare and research data and information in advance before talking with T-People. Let them take their time to get interested in talking to you. Tell them that you’re interested in their expertise, and give them a plausible reason why. Invite them to share their knowledge with you. Be a good listener, and ask precise questions to let them share their opinions. 

    Desire: To make T-People gain a favorable disposition towards an idea, get them to talk about the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of it. Then, ask them for their ideas on how to mitigate or resolve the cons that every idea has. Finally, line up a logical chain of arguments that leads to a definite conclusion supporting your line of thought that the idea is truly worthy.

    Action: Prepare and show hard logical evidence that highlights the value potential and feasibility of your idea. Alternatively, convince T-People with ‘demonstration’ (e.g., by showing a prototype). Convince T-People to agree to a suggested, beneficial course of action by showing that the evidence-supported idea both supports their favored theoretical perspectives and will work in practice.

     “Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives,” 

    - Oprah Winfrey. 

    How to communicate more empathetically with “I-People” at the Ideas-base?

    Approach and attention:  I-People are pretty informal and casual, so it’s comparatively easy to approach them provided you do this at the right time. Connect with them in the mid to late afternoon or early evening when they have completed their main creative work for the day and are open for fresh inspiration. The ideal way to grab the attention of an I-person is to take notice of what’s “individual” about them. I-People tend to be highly individualized and like to stand out from the crowd, so compliment them on an extravagant fashion accessory or a colorful piece of clothing that they use to flag their originality.

    Interest: At first, engage I-People in small talk about the latest trends in technologies, inventions, fashions, lifestyles, and traveling. Ask them about these trends and the ‘future’, then listen to their viewpoints and ideas and expand on them by sharing our opinion. Also, share information about new toys, gadgets, apps, tools or games with them, and ask them about their hobbies. 

    Desire: After you’ve gained an I-Person’s recognition as a worthy fellow-avant-gardist, it’s time to get down to business. Briefly explain what’s your challenge and related goal, and share the essential information. Then, continue by sharing your ideas or your vision of a better future. Make your pitch lively and energetic, and communicate using lots of visuals and fewer words. Finally, invite the I-people to contribute additional ideas to expand on your idea or vision. Open the door for them to showcase their creativity. Show them how much you appreciate their ideas, and treat them like a creativity ‘guru’ to keep them energized.

    Action: Convince I-People of your vision and persuade them to agree to support you or buy into your idea. Sell them the inspiration and the “product of the product”, the higher-order value of your idea. (For example, making humanity multi-planetary is the higher-order value behind Elon Musk’s vision of humans settling down on Mars. Musk believes pursuing this goal is essential to ensure humanity’s continuance as a species.) Emphasize the idea of “doing it together,” ask how to get started quickly, and support their ideas. Then, let them take action to take the first step and give them the freedom to do as they think is appropriate.

    How to communicate more empathetically with “P-People” at the People-base?

    Approach and attention: P-people are super-social, so they’re easy to approach almost anytime. If you don’t yet know them well, then first contact and befriend them on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, or approach them on a networking event. Then, invite them for an informal face-to-face meeting over coffee or lunch, and build a good relationship with them first and become familiar with other people in their work team or key social groups. Later on, regularly hangout together and buy and bring snacks and sweets when you meet. 

    Interest: Be talkative and casual when you meet with P-people. Talk about current affairs, fashion and lifestyle topics, and ask them about their hobbies, family and friends, and other colleagues in their team. If possible, include humor and jokes to your communication. 

    Desire: Share your view of a challenge that society, their community, or their business faces right now. Describe the situation, the challenge, and what we ideally want to achieve in a simple way. Speak with sincerity and honesty to them. Then, ask them to share their opinion on the issue. Suggest to brainstorm more ideas on how to address the issue together, and suggest your main idea alongside others while complimenting their ideas. Later on, come back to your main idea that you want them to embrace, then ask them for advice. Highlight the benefits of your idea to society, a community, or their business, and how you’d like to make this idea happen together. 

    Action: Show them that the idea and the related activities are not challenging to do. Suggest to implement the idea together and to jointly make it successfully. Then, take joint action and thank them for their help. After finishing the work, take them for drinks and hang-out together to celebrate the successful completion of the joint project.

    How to communicate more empathetically with “S-People” at the Systems-base?

    Approach and attention: Systems-people are formal and proper in their business conduct, so make an official appointment and create an agenda for an important meeting with them that you share in advance. If you call them by phone, arrange a time to talk or ask them if it’s convenient for them to talk now. Be organized and timely in your communications with S-people, and talk with clear purpose. 

    Interest: Get them talking first. Ask them: “What concerns you?” to learn more about their current issues and concerns. Then, share with them your idea on how you may help them alleviate their pains. Prepare specific information and a clear requirement for them that support your view. Be aware that S-people love to say “no” to ideas and find many reasons as to why not to do new things, and deal with any critical remarks from them in a positive, assertive way and not change anything

    Desire: Explain what is the situation that you want to help them to address proactively. Be direct and to the point. To counter their tendency to wait until the last minute before making a change, ask them the question: “What happens if you continue to do nothing?” Appeal to their sense for security and mitigating risks. 

    Action:  When you make a case to S-people, don’t leave room for imagination (they’re not into this). Prepare the pertinent facts, names, and evidence that supports your idea. Then, take the time to explain step-by-step what you want to do with them, thereby being as detailed and explicative as possible. Provide all missing & complete information like timeline, objective, etc., so they can see what’s it like and like and reasonable for them. Set a timeline and specify expected the results. Then, let them plan how to proceed best and take action by themselves. Most importantly, show them how your idea positively affects the bottom line, how it improves ROI, or how it increases efficiency. By providing detailed information, you can convince them that following your suggested course of action is a reasonable, feasible, and safe thing that they should do.

    Conclusion: Tune into the right frequency to empathetically broadcast your call to action

    How did I collect the information on how we may communicate with greater empathy with people from each TIPS base? This is based on the collective feedback of those people who populate each base on how they wish to be talked to and convinced of following a suggestion of taking a certain meaningful course of action. Let me explain.

    One of the many games and exercises we play with delegates attending one of our TIPS Innovation Profiling workshops is “The TIPS Empathy Game”. Thereby, we split the delegates into four “base teams” based on their dominant TIPS base. Then, using the AIDA questions as a guiding reference, each TIPS ‘base team” outlines how they intend to empathetically relate to the people from the other bases. Moreover, they also specify how to best approach, communicate with, and convince them. Finally, we go through each TIPS base and see how close the other teams meet the preferred communication needs that each base team outlined for themselves. For each presentation round, the “real base team” decides which of the other teams is closest to their preferred communication patterns and thus becomes its “Base Babe” (and earns points).

    • Would you like to find out more about our highly edutaining TIPS training for your team?
    • Do you want to learn more about TIPS? Take a look at our TIPS website and our brand new TIPS brochure.
    • Are you curious about what’s your TIPS profile? Buy your TIPS online profiling test coupon for USD 89 now.
    • Contact us to tell us more about yourself and how we may help you. 

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2019

  • Post Featured Image

    Using TIPS for the People-Side of Innovation

    Suppose you’re a corporate innovation manager who arranged to get all of your fellow executives and coworkers from the major business units of your company profiled in TIPS, Thinkergy’s cognitive profiling test for business and innovation. Today, let me suggest eight actions that you can take as an innovation manager after your company has been TIPS-ed.

    1. Start with yourself and review your own TIPS result and profiling report

    As an innovation manager, first, deepen your self-awareness before beginning to gain greater innovation awareness. Study your personal TIPS profile and test results and take the actions suggested in a related earlier article (titled So you’ve been TIPS-ed, now what? (Part 1 | Part 2).

    2. Familiarize yourself with matching innovation contributions of the different profiles

    An earlier article in this blog titled How to make everyone contribute to innovation discusses how each TIPS profile can add value to corporate innovation initiatives. Read this article to gain a general overview before deep-diving into the TIPS results of your company.

    3. Overview the results of your innovators in a matrix

    If you’ve profiled a larger number of employees in TIPS, Thinkergy or your TIPS coach can send you a TIPS Profiling Results Spreadsheet featuring the test results and related personal data of all your profiled colleagues:

    • The spreadsheet contains each person’s TIPS innovator profile, test scores, and cognitive styles, among others.
    • Consider adding other relevant information to each profiled colleague to make it easier to subsequently compose diverse innovation teams (such as perhaps business unit or business function, age or social generation, gender, or educational background).
    • Use the sort functions to quickly regroup the results based on certain desired parameters.

    4. Identify your internal innovation champions

    Certain TIPS profiles tend to thrive in —and often love to drive— (digital) innovation projects. (Please see also a related article titled How to find the people to drive digital innovation). How can you find those creative and digital types? Go through the results list and check for Ideators, Conceptualizers, Promoters, and Imaginative Experimenters with high scores for the Ideas base. 

    In line with Everett Roger’s innovation diffusion theory, these profiles also tend to constitute those innovators and early adopters who create, test, endorse, and promote innovations. I detail this out in a related article titled Who really makes innovation happen?

    5. Use TIPS to optimize the people-side of innovation projects

    As an innovation manager, you will regularly organize innovation projects that target specific challenges. Moreover, business unit managers may approach you occasionally to ask for your support for a particular innovation project. Whatever the case may be, TIPS can help you in better planning successful innovation projects in three ways:

    1. Each innovation project typically targets one particular innovation type (such as product or service innovation, or customer experience design). Interestingly, different TIPS profiles tend to enjoy and do well in certain innovation types. Please check out the article titled What innovation projects fit your cognitive style for more information.
    2. TIPS also allows you to optimize the people utilization in an innovation project. You can do this by inviting people only to those process stages that they tend to enjoy based on their TIPS profile. I discuss the details in an earlier article titled Who shines when in the creative process?
    3. TIPS also spells out what is the preferred style to innovate of each profile. As an innovation facilitator, check what TIPS profiles you have in an innovation team before you guide it through the stages of a structured thinking process.(such as our award-winning innovation method X-IDEA). When applying specific thinking tools, adjust your facilitation style to fit the preferred styles of innovating of the team members. I explain these differences in an earlier article titled What’s your and everyone else’s style to innovate?

    6. Identify opportunities for work realignments in the innovation management function

    Depending on your TIPS profile and your specific job responsibilities, you may or may not be highly satisfied with your role as an innovation manager. It is quite likely that you love certain aspects of your position, but regard taking care of other tasks as a drudgery. This ambivalence is because most innovation managers either enjoy administering organizational innovation from behind or leading innovation initiatives at the front, but not having to do both.

    For this reason, I made a case to separate the function into two roles in an earlier article titled Creative leaders and innovation managers: same same but different. Read this article and decide if my arguments make sense to you. If yes, consider bringing in another person who complements your preferred work focus. Then, drive and lead innovation at the front, while leaving all the administrative tasks to your colleague — or vice versa, depending on your TIPS profile.

    7. Clarify who is going to respond how to creative change

    TIPS can give you hints on who is going to respond how to major creative change initiatives that your organization may introduce to make your corporate culture more innovation-friendly. Thereby, we distinguish all profiled people into three groups based on their TIPS profiles and highest score:

    • Psycho-dynamic profiles (such as the Conceptualizer, Ideator, Imaginative Experimenter, and Promoter) tend to be change drivers or change agents.
    • Psycho-neutral profiles (like the Theorist, Coach, All-Rounder, and Partner) tend to skeptics whom you need to convince that the change is sensible and worth the extra efforts.
    • Psycho-static profiles tend to be laggards and preservers who are likely to resist change passively, or who may even actively try to sabotage it.  They include the TIPS profiles of the Organizer, Systematizer, Systematic Experimenter, and Technocrat. 

    As such, TIPS can help you to identify possible change drivers and change agents in your organization. Moreover,  TIPS can also point you to those psycho-static colleagues who are likely to oppose and resist the change initiative. This knowledge allows you to actively approach these colleagues early on to address their concerns and try to win them over.

    8. Identify possible candidates for a creative leadership development program

    You can regard all the psycho-dynamic colleagues that we’ve identified in steps 4 and 7 as a potential talent pool to be developed into creative leaders by your organization. A sophisticated creative leadership development program such as Genius Journey by Thinkergy can teach these creative talents the advanced creative mindsets and action routines of outstanding creative leaders in business, science, sports, and the arts. (Depending on your TIPS profiles, you as innovation manager and other psycho-dynamic top executives may want to join such a program, too).

    Do you want to learn more about TIPS

    Are you curious about what’s your TIPS profile? Buy your TIPS online profiling test coupon for USD 89 now.

    Would you like to find out more about our TIPS training for your team? Contact us to tell us more. 

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2019

  • 9 Ways to Manage People Better with TIPS

    Have you ever heard about the “war for talent”? The term appeared first in a 1997 research study by McKinsey and was popularized in the 2001 book of the same title. In The War for Talent, Michaels et al. argue that companies have to navigate an increasingly competitive landscape for recruiting and retaining talented employees. Demographic shifts (primarily in the United States and Europe, but also in Asia) and increasing demand for highly skilled knowledge workers are responsible for the predicted talent shortage. In response to the call to win in The War for Talent, the talent management industry gained momentum and grew in popularity.

    Twenty years later, we may ask in hindsight: Have many organizations suffered from a shortage of talented people during the past two decades? Indeed, companies face difficulties to find enough talents for specific roles in certain industries (e.g., IT developers). However, the “war for talent” has proved to be a myth. In most areas and countries, talents abound. So, if we’re not short of talent, what’s the real challenge? Most organizations are unable to recognize the real “personal assets” of their human capital   — and how to best use them. Here we’ll explore how human resources manager can better manage human capital along the talent management cycle with the help of TIPS, Thinkergy’s cognitive profiling tool for business and innovation.

    Introduction: The talent management lifecycle

    Talent management aims to anticipate an organization’s requirements for human capital. Then, strategic plans plot how to meet those talent needs effectively. Talent management includes all activities to plan, recruit, onboard, manage, develop, reward, and set free talented managers and employees.

    The literature on human capital management presents these key activities along with a lifecycle model: the talent management lifecycle. While various concepts differ in detail, there is a widespread consensus on certain stages that talents pass through while working for an organization.  In the following, I outline how TIPS can support the talent management efforts of the human capital function. Thereby, I move along the various stages of the talent lifecycle and its three main objectives (recruit—retain—release talent).

    Talent management aims to anticipate an organization’s requirements for human capital. Then, strategic plans plot how to meet those talent needs effectively. Talent management includes all activities to plan, recruit, onboard, manage, develop, reward, and set free talented managers and employees.

    The literature on human capital management presents these key activities along with a lifecycle model: the talent management lifecycle. While various concepts differ in detail, there is a widespread consensus on certain stages that talents pass through while working for an organization.  In the following, I outline how TIPS can support the talent management efforts of the human capital function. Thereby, I move along the various stages of the talent lifecycle and its three main objectives (recruit—retain—release talent).

    Stage 1: Talent planning

    Talent planning is a strategic approach that involves identifying key positions and roles, understanding critical skills requirements and gaps, and creating transition and succession plans to keep critical roles filled with top players today and in the future. The practice encompasses the assessment of an organization’s current level of talent, predicting the future talent needs necessary to achieve its strategic objectives, and then creating corresponding action strategies for recruiting, retaining and releasing talents.

    TIPS can be a valuable conceptual tool to help talent planners gauge an appropriate cognitive mix in an organization’s talent pool. Depending on the industry and the evolutionary phase in the business cycle, a company or strategic business unit needs more talents with specific personality profiles and related cognitive styles. For example, banks or accounting firms have a greater need for quantitative, analytical thinkers, while agencies in the creative industries need a high proportion of qualitative creative thinkers. With regards to the business cycle phase, a fast-growing company needs to focus on bringing in more operational knowledge workers to solidify its backend, while a company threatened by digital transformation needs to look for agile, creative talents who drive change as the organization begins a new business cycle to avoid disruption and creative destruction.

    Stage 2: Talent acquisition

    Talent acquisition is all about hiring the right person for an open position. How can TIPS help organizations to acquire the right talents who cognitively fit the requirements of a particular job (and prevent them from hiring the wrong people)? In a TIPS talent acquisition project, we use a gamified approach to help a human resources team translate the job description for each open position into compatible TIPS profiles. Typically, every role has a primary TIPS profile representing an ideal cognitive fit and 1-3 secondary profiles that are possibles.

    Then, human resources invite all shortlisted candidates to take the TIPS online test to determine their TIPS profile. Next, we check for the cognitive job fit of each candidate. When the recruitment committee members conduct the final job interviews with the shortlisted top candidates, they can ask specific questions to validate the cognitive suitability of each candidate further. Finally, they decide on the best candidate considering all position-specific competencies (knowledge, skills, expertise, and cognitive profile).

    Would you like to get more details on a TIPS-empowered talent recruitment process? Check out an earlier article titled How to hire the right talents with TIPS.

    Stage 3: Talent onboarding

    When a new talent joins an organization, they often first go through an orientation program that helps to familiarize them with their new organization. After the initial “honeymoon period”, however, many talents are left alone in living up to the expectation of their new boss and colleagues.

    One onboarding approach to help new talents to integrate into their new organization successfully, and avoid disillusionment, is to assign them a mentor. Here, TIPS can help to ensure that the mentor has a similar, or ideally, the same TIPS profile as a new talent. Why is this useful?

    People with the same or similar profiles and cognitive preferences tend to like each other. They share similar viewpoints and cognitive styles. Hence, a TIPS-compatible mentor can share with her mentee how to effectively navigate the company culture (the real one, not its public relations version) while staying true to one’s natural talents and personality.

    Stage 4: Talent (re-)alignment

    One of the best ways for an organization to retain their top talents is by putting them in a role that they love and can do well. One sentence captures the essence of talent (re-)alignment: Put the right person into the right job. 

    Organizations that ensure hiring the right new talents for a vacant position tend to comply with this maxim (in stage 2: talent acquisition). Yet, many organizations have put a significant number of those “right people” who are already on board in a “wrong job”. Either they work in a (slightly) wrong role within the right work team, or in a wrong business function. How can TIPS help here? 

    TIPS suggests what “ecosystems”  (business functions, industries, and organizational types) fit the natural talents of each profile type. So, invite all your incumbent talents to take the TIPS online personality test. Then, check how closely the role that each person works in fits their TIPS profile and preferred cognitive styles. Next, discuss the results with each talent and their manager. If desired, realign the roles and responsibilities of all those “right people” who are  “in the wrong job” to set free their full talents. Do you want more details on how this works?  Take a look at an earlier blog post article titled How to put the right people into the right job.

    Stage 5: Talent management

    Different talents vary in the way they prefer to be managed by their superior (team manager or senior executive). These differences go back to different personal preferences in cognitive styles that relate to the four TIPS styles (to think, work, interact and live). If you’re a manager, some members of your team may prefer:

    • taking on more quantitative, analytical duties, while others prefer more qualitative, creative work assignments (thinking style). 
    • working on longer, conceptual projects, while others enjoy ticking off operational tasks on a To Do-list (work style). 
    • you to make your case, and decisions, based on evidence and hard facts, while others want you to communicate and make decisions in a more considerate, consensual ways (interaction style).
    • a work climate and management style that is more formal, disciplined and on schedule, while others are more casual, free-flowing and flexible on time (lifestyle).

    The article Manage people better by relating to their personal styles discusses these differences in how people like to be managed in greater detail.

    Stage 6: Talent development

    Talent development aims to provide appropriate Learning & Development (L&D) programs that empower your talents to grow, perform better, and prepare them for their next career step. Thereby, it’s essential to move away from one-size-fits-all L&D programs to more individualized upskilling approaches. Such a personalized approach aligns with a fundamental principle of TIPS: “Make everyone play on the natural strengths of their TIPS profiles. Use the other profiles to compensate for one’s weaknesses.” 

    Do you see the value in this credo? Then focus the upskill training initiatives for your talents on developing their strengths further, and not on eradicating their weaknesses. Read the article Who should be trained in what?, which explains the underlying rationale in greater detail, and also suggests sample training courses that most talents of a particular TIPS profile type find appealing. 

    Stage 7: Talent performance

    Different types of talents tend to excel at producing certain kind of outputs. For example, a person who is good at closing deals typically is poor at writing code. 

    TIPS can help you understand who has a talent for producing what kinds of outputs. The target outputs that come naturally easy to a person reside in their talent sweet spot. So, if you’ve already put the right person into the right job (talent acquisition and/or realignment)), then that talent can produce the target outputs related to this position easily, effortlessly and enjoyably. 

    An earlier blog article titled How to boost work productivity and performance with TIPS outlines examples of primary and secondary target outputs for each of the 11 TIPS profiles, as well as the process steps of effective performance management for your talents.

    Stage 8: Talent leadership

    Who is the best talent to lead a business unit — or even the entire organization as CEO? It depends on where in the business cycle a particular business unit, or the whole corporation, locates right now, and whether it’s ready to move to the next development stage. 

    As a company grows, it’s leadership focus shifts: from creating and launching products, to marketing and sales growth, to solidifying operations, and finally systematizing the entire business. As explained in an earlier article, specific TIPS profiles come to the fore at different development stages as a company gradually evolves from a start-up venture to a large or even multinational corporation. 

    For example, nowadays, many corporations are threatened by digital transformation and new technologies (especially in some industries such as banking or automotive). They need to start a new creative cycle to avoid the fate of creative destruction. The corresponding TIPS profile to best drive such agile, innovative and disruptive change —either as leader of a new business unit or even as the organization’s CEO— is an Ideator (and not a Systematizer who tends to occupy executive chairs in established organizations). 

    Stage 9: Talent transition

    At some point, talents depart from an organization. In the past, most people stayed with one organization from recruitment until retirement. Nowadays, the end of one talent lifecycle is the beginning of a new one. 

    In some cases, talents transition into a new organization by their own volition to hike up their compensation or career prospects. In other cases, however, organizational restructuring and automation of business processes force organizations to make some of their talents redundant.

    Here, TIPS can become an invaluable tool to ensure that departing talents can smoothly transition into a new role or career. Companies may offer their “outplaced” talents to take a TIPS online test. TIPS allows them to learn more about their personality profile and preferred cognitive styles. (For some, it may be the first time in their career that they’ve got the opportunity to take a cognitive profiling test). By gaining greater self-awareness of their TIPS profile, departing talents can align their next career move to a proper role, industry, organizational type, and business cycle stage, regardless of whether they sign on at a new company or consider starting their own business.

    Conclusion: TIPS empowers talent management along the entire lifecycle

    TIPS can provide organizations with greater talent awareness. Our cognitve profiling tool can support human resources managers to more effectively manage human capital along all stages of the talent management lifecycle. Knowledge of a person’s TIPS profile allows you to:

    a) first, recruit the right talents;

    b) then, retain them longer by aligning their job placements, L&D initiatives and performance contributions to their TIPS profile, and by managing them in harmony with their preferred cognitive styles; and

    c) finally, release them in style into a successful next career.  

    • Are you a leader who would like to learn more about how TIPS can help you manage your human capital? 
    • Are you curious about what’s your TIPS profile? Buy your TIPS online profiling test coupon for $89 now.
    • Would you like to find out more about our TIPS training? Contact us to tell us more. 

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2019

  • The War on Talent is a Myth - So What's the Real Challenge?

     Have you ever heard about the “war for talent”? The term appeared first in a 1997 research study by McKinsey and was popularized in the 2001 book of the same title. In The War for Talent, Michaels et al. argue that companies have to navigate an increasingly competitive landscape for recruiting and retaining talented employees. Demographic shifts and increasing demand for highly skilled knowledge workers are responsible for the predicted talent shortage. In response to the call to win in The War for Talent, the talent management industry gained momentum and grew in popularity.

    Twenty years later, we may ask in hindsight: Have many organizations suffered from a shortage of talented people during the past two decades? Indeed, companies face difficulties to find enough talents for specific roles in certain industries (e.g., IT developers). However, the “war for talent” has proved to be a myth. In most areas and countries, talents abound. So, if we’re not short of talent, what’s the real challenge? Most organizations are unable to recognize the real “personal assets” of their human capital and how to best use them. Today and in two weeks, we’ll explore in a two-articles episode how human resource managers can better manage human capital along the talent management cycle with the help of TIPS Innovation Profiles, Thinkergy’s cognitive profiling assessment for business and innovation.

    Introduction: The talent management lifecycle

    Talent management aims to anticipate an organization’s requirements for human capital. Then, strategic plans plot how to meet those talent needs effectively. Talent management includes all activities to plan, recruit, onboard, manage, develop, reward, and set free talented managers and employees.

    The literature on human capital management presents these key activities along with a lifecycle model: the talent management lifecycle. While various concepts differ in detail, there is a widespread consensus on certain stages that talents pass through while working for an organization.  In the following, I outline how TIPS can support the talent management efforts of the human capital function. Thereby, I move along the various stages of the talent lifecycle and its three main objectives (recruit—retain—release talent).

    Talent management aims to anticipate an organization’s requirements for human capital. Then, strategic plans plot how to meet those talent needs effectively. Talent management includes all activities to plan, recruit, onboard, manage, develop, reward, and set free talented managers and employees.

    The literature on human capital management presents these key activities along with a lifecycle model: the talent management lifecycle. While various concepts differ in detail, there is a widespread consensus on certain stages that talents pass through while working for an organization.  In the following, I outline how TIPS can support the talent management efforts of the human capital function. Thereby, I move along the various stages of the talent lifecycle and its three main objectives (recruit—retain—release talent).

    Stage 1: Talent planning

    Talent planning is a strategic approach that involves identifying key positions and roles, understanding critical skills requirements and gaps, and creating transition and succession plans to keep critical roles filled with top players today and in the future. The practice encompasses the assessment of an organization’s current level of talent, predicting the future talent needs necessary to achieve its strategic objectives, and then creating corresponding action strategies for recruiting, retaining and releasing talents.

    TIPS can be a valuable conceptual tool to help talent planners gauge an appropriate cognitive mix in an organization’s talent pool. Depending on the industry and the evolutionary phase in the business cycle, a company or strategic business unit needs more talents with specific personality profiles and related cognitive styles. For example, banks or accounting firms have a greater need for quantitative, analytical thinkers, while agencies in the creative industries need a high proportion of qualitative creative thinkers. With regards to the business cycle phase, a fast-growing company needs to focus on bringing in more operational knowledge workers to solidify its backend, while a company threatened by digital transformation needs to look for agile, creative talents who drive change as the organization begins a new business cycle to avoid disruption and creative destruction.

    Stage 2: Talent acquisition

    Talent acquisition is all about hiring the right person for an open position. How can TIPS help organizations to acquire the right talents who cognitively fit the requirements of a particular job (and prevent them from hiring the wrong people)? In a TIPS talent acquisition project, we use a gamified approach to help a human resources team translate the job description for each open position into compatible TIPS profiles. Typically, every role has a primary TIPS profile representing an ideal cognitive fit and 1-3 secondary profiles that are possibles.

    Then, human resources invite all shortlisted candidates to take the TIPS online test to determine their TIPS profile. Next, we check for the cognitive job fit of each candidate. When the recruitment committee members conduct the final job interviews with the shortlisted top candidates, they can ask specific questions to validate the cognitive suitability of each candidate further. Finally, they decide on the best candidate considering all position-specific competencies (knowledge, skills, expertise, and cognitive profile).

    Would you like to get more details on a TIPS-empowered talent recruitment process? Check out an earlier article titled How to hire the right talents with TIPS.

    Stage 3: Talent onboarding

    When a new talent joins an organization, they often first go through an orientation program that helps to familiarize them with their new organization. After the initial “honeymoon period”, however, many talents are left alone in living up to the expectation of their new boss and colleagues.

    One onboarding approach to help new talents to integrate into their new organization successfully, and avoid disillusionment, is to assign them a mentor. Here, TIPS can help to ensure that the mentor has a similar, or ideally, the same TIPS profile as a new talent. Why is this useful?

    People with the same or similar profiles and cognitive preferences tend to like each other. They share similar viewpoints and cognitive styles. Hence, a TIPS-compatible mentor can share with her mentee how to effectively navigate the company culture (the real one, not its public relations version) while staying true to one’s natural talents and personality.

    Interim conclusion and outlook:

    Today, I have explained how TIPS can support the initial recruitment phase of the talent management lifecycle with its three stages of talent planning, talent acquisition, and talent onboarding. In two weeks, part 2 of this article will explore how companies can better manage the remaining two phases of the talent management lifecycle: talent retainment (with the five stages talent (re-)alignment, management, development, performance, and leadership) and talent release (with the final lifecycle stage talent transition).

    • Are you a Human Resources Manager and would like to learn more about how Find A Certified Trainer can help you better manage your human capital?
    • Are you curious about what’s your TIPS profile? Click to take your test now and receive your in-depth 36-page profile report for just $89.
    • Would you like to find out more about our TIPS training? Contact to tell us more.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2019

  • Which of the 11 TIPS Profiles are You?

    TIPS has 11 distinct innovator profiles that play on one or more of the four TIPS bases (theories, ideas, people, systems). How do you profile in TIPS?

    TIPS is Thinkergy's new cognitive people profiling tool for business and innovation. When would you like to get TIPS-ed and take our TIPS online test to reveal your innovator profile?


  • Who Should Be Trained In What?

    In times of exponential change, what keeps us employable and our knowledge and skills base relevant and up-to-date? Continuous learning. Of course, life-long learning is first and foremost and individual responsibility. But to continuously develop their human capital to meet the requirements of the workplace of the future, companies need to invest in up-skilling training, too. Here, a couple of exciting questions arise: Who should undergo what kind of training programs? Why? And how can you get more out of your time and monetary investments in training? 

    I give you a simple answer to all these questions: By aligning your human capital development efforts with the cognitive preferences of your human talents with the help of TIPS - Thinkergy’s cognitive profiling method for business and innovation.

    How TIPS supports human talent management

    TIPS profiles people with the help of the four TIPS Bases (Theories, Ideas, People, Systems) and the four TIPS Styles (to think, work, interact, and live) into 11 innovator profiles, each of which occupies a dedicated space on the TIPS Profiling Map.

    Talent development is the fourth and last element of how to manage your human capital with the help of TIPS. So what are the other factors (that we already discussed separately in earlier TIPS articles):

    • Talent acquisition: Hire the right people for open positions. Ensure a cognitive fit between the responsibilities and requirements of particular vacant jobs and a candidate.
    • Talent awareness: Make everyone become aware of their personal “assets”, and play on their strengths, while using complementary profiles to compensate for one’s weaknesses. 
    • Talent (re-)alignment: Put the right person into the right job. Make everyone work in those functional areas, and do those things, that come naturally easy to them. If necessary, realign some team members to allow them to work in a position and role that better fits their natural talents.
    • Finally, talent development: Up-skill all of your talents with specific training programs that align with everyone’s individual capabilities and interests. In other words, expand and deepen the knowledge and skills repertoire in those areas that further their natural strengths, rather than improve on their weaknesses. So, who should be trained in what?

    Talent Development: What training contents fit what kind of cognitive profile?

    Naturally, the scope and topic range of learning and development programs vary by industry and organizational type. As such, the training topics I suggest below are more general and apply to a wide range of industries. Moreover, I believe in providing training in critical business thinking skills for the 21st century to all of your human talents (such as Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking, Visual Thinking, Problem Solving, Decision Making).

    With this in mind, what training courses and directions cater to the natural talents of each of the 11 TIPS profiles? Starting on the top left corner of the TIPS Profiling Map, and then moving around clockwise, let me introduce the different TIPS profiles and suggest sample training courses that these people tend to find appealing:

    • Theorists enjoy academic training courses such as Business Research Methodologies & Skills, Science Theory, as well as Quantitative Analysis & Statistics. They are also good at learning computer programming languages (such as Python, SQL, R). Finally, Theorists will be thrilled to take training courses in areas that will drive the Sixth Wave, such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, among others.
    • The geeky, strategic Conceptualizers are quick learners and natural big picture thinkers. So, they enjoy strategy-related courses (e.g., Strategic Management, Strategy Innovation) as well as in trend- and future-related courses topics (such as Technology Road-Mapping,  Future Thinking & Foresight Methods). As they link the Theories- to the Ideas-base, they also enjoy learning about newly emerging technologies, such as Big Data Analysis or  Blockchain. 
    • The Ideas-base at the top right of the TIPS Profiling Map is home to Ideators. These people delight in progressive training courses that equip them with knowledge and skills to help them in pushing boundaries. They love training in Business Creativity & (Disruptive) Innovation, and, if more senior, are ideal candidates for undergoing in Creative Leadership development program. Being the most dynamic profile in TIPS, they also relish learning about Entrepreneurial Thinking & Business Start-up Skills.
    • Connecting the Ideas- to the People-base in TIPS, Promoters love to learn about Marketing, Brand Management, and Public Relation Management. Nowadays, they eagerly sign-up for courses in Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing, too. Promoters also take pleasure in upskilling training courses such as Presentation Skills, Persuasion Skills, and Copywriting. 
    • Sitting on the bottom right corner of the TIPS Profiling Map at the People-base, Partners are ideal candidates for training in Negotiation Skills and Sales Management. They also appreciate undergoing training in Customer Services and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Other training courses that cater to their natural talents include Team Management, Product Management, Change Management, Diversity Management, and Emotional Intelligence.

    • Bridging the Theories- and Ideas-bases, Organizers are the ideal candidates for Project Management training programs. They also enjoy learning about Operations Management and Production Management, as well as Time Management.
    • Squarely rooted at the Systems-base at the bottom left of the TIPS map, Systematizers restructure, monitor and control the backend of business. As such, they believe it’s time and money well invested if you send them to training courses such as Performance Management (including specific methods such as the Balanced Score Card System), Corporate Risk Management & Compliance, and Quality Management.
    • Technocrats reconcile the Theories- with the Systems-base. They appreciate training courses that develop their quantitative-analytical and administrative business skills, such as Accounting, Financial Analysis,  Business Intelligence Analysis, Knowledge Management, as well as Business Law.
    • Coaches bridge the divide between the Theories- and People-base. They love learning more about humanistic topics, such as  Talent Management and Conflict Resolution. Theoretical Coaches are intrigued by courses in Philosophy or Business Ethics, while people-oriented Coaches enjoy taking classes in Leadership and (Life) Coaching.
    • Experimenters link the Systems- and the Ideas-bases. They may get a kick out of IT-related training courses (including Cyber Security). They also tend to enjoy practical “How To”-courses in areas such as Franchising, Lean Processes, Lean Start-Ups, as well as Industrial Design, Product Design & Prototyping.
    • Located in the center of the TIPS Profiling Map, All-Rounders exhibit multi-faceted talents because they are interested in and good at many things. Moreover, some young professionals at the beginning of their careers may also come out of a TIPS profiling exercise as All-Rounders, which is often because they still lack a broader repertoire of work experiences. So, how to best train these multitalented colleagues? Let them choose topics that interest and intrigue them, thus strengthening their knowledge and skills repertoire while at the same time giving them a chance to discover a direction into which they would like to specialize in going forward.

    Conclusion: Align training contents with learners’ natural interests

    Human capital development is more important than ever for companies to turn the digital innovation economy’s challenges into opportunities for further growth. Maximize your return on training investment by aligning the course contents with the cognitive preferences and natural interests of each of your talents. How can you start the process?

    • As an individual, buy an online test coupon for just $89 and get TIPS-ed now.
    • If you’re a business leader or corporate human capital manager, then contact us to profile all your talents with TIPS — and ideally also consider investing in a TIPS training to make the different styles come alive for everyone to see. 

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2019


  • How TIPS Helps You Boost Your ROI

    Have you ever had a sales meeting where you were pitching a great product that really addressed your client’s need, only to be cast aside by your counterpart with the killer phrase: “Can you demonstrate to me how this improves our ROI (return on investment)?” Today, let me share with you how to deal with the “ROI request” in a productive way using the example of TIPS, Thinkergy’s innovation people profiling method. So, how can TIPS help you improve the ROI of your company?

    Background: A frustrating sales meeting

    A few weeks ago, I had a meeting with an executive in charge of human capital development at a well-known corporation in the Food & Beverage industry. Once leading its category, the company nowadays largely milks its last few cash cow products to get by. “You need to start a new creative growth cycle to stop your decline in revenues and products”, I suggested to my counterpart, and added: “And I have the perfect tool to help you find those creative types in your organization to drive your creative renaissance. It’s called TIPS, our new people profiling tool for innovation.”

    I explained to him how TIPS can help him identify who responds how to creative change, and who are those few people in the organization who can actually lead and drive innovative change. In short, TIPS is the right tool at the right time to solve an important problem of the company. 

    Observing the closed body language of this prospect client, however, I realized that he was not open for a new, innovative method, and clearly is not one of those early adopters whom we target in the global roll-out of TIPS. So, it was not too surprising when he suddenly came up with the all-purpose kill-any-initiative statement: “I am willing to consider your product if you can make a very strong case how it helps us improve our ROI.” I nodded, thanked him for his time, and left.

    A few days later, I talked this situation over with a befriended consultant, who as my senior is blessed with 15 more years of professional experience and wisdom. I shared with him my point of view on the “ROI request”: I regard investing hours of time to establish a numeric ROI calculation to prove the bottomline implications of TIPS as a waste of time; this is because such a calculations needs to be based on a set of assumptions that may or not be true, and/or require the company to disclose to me a set of financial and business related data that may be too “confidential” (or in some cases too embarrassing) for them to share. “You’re right,” said my friend, “you cannot win with this approach, as it opens the door for much debate.” Then, he shared with me a better strategy to demonstrate how a product or new project initiative, can help boosting ROI: 

    • First, identify a major problem that the organization faces.
    • Then, demonstrate how your product is able to address and resolve the problem.
    • Finally, establish a logical causal chain that outlines how the benefits of using the product outweigh its costs, and how it improves ROI.

    How does this work in practice? In the following, I will make a case on how TIPS can help organizations boost their ROI by helping them to retain their top talents (through better recruitment, better alignment and better management of their talents), and by improving the innovativeness of the firm.

    How TIPS improves ROI by recruiting the right people

    My last article cited various studies reporting that the majority of companies perform poorly in recruiting the right person for an open position, leading to replacement costs of at least 20% of the salary. Moreover, two in three companies even admitted hiring the wrong person for the right job (i.e., people who cognitively fit the requirements of the position, but are sociopath, bullies or tyrants), leading to declining revenues, client relationships and employee motivation.

    The article also outlined how TIPS can ensure that companies hire the right person for the right job (and don’t hire the wrong person), thus effectively helping them to resolve the problem of a poor recruitment success ratio. How does this impact ROI?

    TIPS helps organizations to hire the right person for an open position. TIPS does this by making sure that the preferred cognitive styles and natural talents of a person fit the requirements of the job. If companies recruit the right people and use them in the right job, then the new recruits tend to perform easily and effortlessly in their role, and their outstanding job performance increases the ROI of the organization. 

    TIPS also prevents organizations from hiring the wrong person for the right job. This helps avoid direct employee replacement costs, and spares organizations from the negative impacts on their bottomline (as described above) and from higher employee turnover (which in four out of five cases is rooted in bad hiring decisions, as we discussed two weeks ago). TIPS makes it likely to identify such “wrong people” ahead of time, helping you to avoid the related decreases in ROI (due to lower sales and higher employee replacement costs).

    How TIPS boosts ROI by retaining more of your top talents

    High employee turnover is another major problem that many companies face. What causes this problem (apart from poor hiring practices as just discussed above)?

    1. High employee turnover may partially be attributed to the generational shifts in the modern workplace. Unlike previous generations, many Gen Y knowledge workers don’t want to labour in a job only for the money; they also want to do meaningful work. If they notice that in their present job they cannot make a positive contribution to the world, they may look for another one that promises them a better chance to make meaning. 
    2. Another reason for high employee turnover may be because companies use too many of their employees in roles that do not perfectly align to their natural strengths. Put in other words, too many companies haven’t put the right person in the right job. This is a waste of talent, because each mismatch prevents a person from performing at their natural best.
    3. Evidence from many studies suggests that employees don’t leave companies, they leave bad bosses. For example, a recent Gallup study found that one in two employees left a job and company they otherwise liked because of a bad manager or immediate supervisor who doesn’t care for their needs and cannot relate to their preferred cognitive styles. (Funny enough, my move away from Deutsche Bank (whom I had loyally served for 16 years and owed a lot as they supported my studies) was triggered by a few managers who weren’t able to relate to my personality and cognitive styles).

    Corporate Chief Human Resource Officers, it’s time to face an inconvenient truth: Those people who volunteer to leave your company because of a hollow, misaligned job or a poor manager are typically the strong, dynamic, self-confident types; and among those who stay is a lot of deadwood.

    How can TIPS boost your ROI by helping you retain your top talents?  

    • TIPS enables you to realign your talents to make sure that everyone works in a role that fits their natural talents and strengths, while having other profiles fill in for each other’s weaknesses. As Albert Einstein noted: “If you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Fish perform easily and effortlessly in the water, as do monkeys on trees. So, TIPS allows you to align everyone in a business unit to do those things that naturally come easy to them, and to outperform effortlessly in their role. And if individual and team performance increase, so does ROI.

    • TIPS also allows you to manage each talent in harmony with their preferred cognitive styles. For example, as an Ideator, I hate being micro-managed, working on dull routine tasks and being checked upon on a daily or weekly basis. You manage Ideators like me by agreeing with them at the beginning of the year on a few ambitious growth targets and an intellectually stimulating, creative project initiative. Then, provide them the few resources that they ask for, and finally let them do the job while keeping an open door in case they seek your feedback.

    Putting the right person into the right job, and managing them in line with their preferred cognitive styles, both improves employee satisfaction and empowerment, and reduces the likelihood that your talents listen to other job offers or even openly look around for new opportunities. Hence, employee turnover goes down, employee replacement costs decrease, and your ROI goes up.

    How TIPS boosts ROI by improving your innovation performance

    The modern innovation economy mandates companies to either come up with more meaningful innovations or quickly fall behind in their industry. According to studies cited in an earlier article titled “How innovation affects financial performance”, innovative firms grow faster and enjoy significantly higher profit margins than their non-innovative peers. So if TIPS can help companies to become more innovative, it is likely to boost their ROI. 

    So how does TIPS raise the innovativeness of an organization?

    Combined, all these TPS-powered innovation contributions will boost the innovation performance and outputs of your firm, which according to various studies, raises your ROI by 3-5% each year.

    Conclusion: TIPS — a small investment in human talent, a giant leap in ROI

    At a cost of USD 88.88 per test, TIPS can significantly improve your company’s ROI by helping you to: a) improve your success ratio of recruiting the right talents for open positions, b) increase individual and team performance at work through better talent alignment, c) increase talent retention by managing people in line with their preferred cognitive styles, and d) raising your firm’s innovativeness and innovation performance. 

    And you? When would you like to get TIPS-ed and take our new TIPS online test? Contact us to learn more about TIPS and our related training courses

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2018

  • How to Scrutinize Popular Cognitive Profiling Methods (Part 1)

    What if you were hired by a mature corporation as their new innovation manager. One of your first tasks is to find all the creative talents within the organization. What will you do? Will you walk around and observe how people dress and behave at work to pinpoint the creative types? Or interview everyone? Whatever you do, chances are that while you surely can expect having some hits, you’re likely to also have a lot of misses — and a lot of “false positives”. So what else can you do? Here cognitive profiling tools can come to your aid and rescue — provided you pick the right one. 

    What are cognitive profiling methods?

    Cognitive profiling methods and —in a wider sense— personality-profiling instruments use well-structured questionnaires to determine the preferred cognitive styles of people. Ideally, the questions asked in the survey relate to certain psychological dimensions or cognitive styles that form the theoretical underpinning of a particular method. As such, these tests aim to capture differences in people’s personal preferences in areas such as cognition, behavior at work, communication and creative problem-solving, and innovation, among others.

    Typically, respondents self-assess their preferred ways with regards to the set of questions (known as personal assessment). In behavioral personality tests, however, other people report on the observed behavior of an evaluatee; in professional settings, this is often done as a “360 degree evaluation” involving a mix of superiors, subordinates, and professional peers.

    Based on the chosen answers, the evaluatee is then assigned a profiling score and/or a personality profile that describes their psychological preferences or preferred cognitive styles.

    Why are personality test and cognitive profiling methods useful?

    Critics belittle personal assessment tools by saying that they are pseudoscientific and no better than reading horoscopes. In contrast, proponents (and I am one of them) see value in using these methods to ensure a better alignment of people to environments that allow them to play on their natural talents.

    Personality tests and cognitive profiling tools give the respondents greater self-awareness on their preferred ways and cognitive styles, and on their natural talent as well as likely strengths and weaknesses related to a particular profile or profiling result. 

    These tests also give people- and team-awareness to managers and colleagues who work together in a team, so that they not only know what makes themselves tick, but also what makes everyone else in a work team tick.

    To harness such higher self- and people-awareness, some methods propose specific applications for improving business performance, such as a more focused career planning, talent development, effective team-building, and the like.

    An overview of existing cognitive style profiling concepts

    Nowadays, you can easily google the keywords “personality test” or “cognitive profiling” to find a myriad of different personality or cognitive profiling tools, each of which has its merit in one way or another. So, which cognitive profiling method may work for you? Well, it all depends on what you want to find out and want to use the method for. So, to get started, let me introduce a few profiling concepts to you that are either highly popular or which caught my interest while I was investigating different methods for their suitability to explain and support the people-side of creativity and innovation: 

    • Arguably the most widely used psychometric instrument is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). MBTI goes back on the work of the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung, who introduced three dimensions to capture differences in personal style: Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I); iNutuition (N) vs Sensing (S); and Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F). Later on, Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers augmented the Jungian preferences by a fourth dimension (Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)) and developed the MBTI typology of sixteen personality types. After taking a questionnaire, test subjects are assigned their profile type based on the letter combination of the highest score for each preferences (e.g. I come out as an ENTP). 
    • In his Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS), David Keirsey expanded the MBTI concept by introducing a new hierarchy of the MBTI dimensions and by grouping the types according to Plato’s four classic temperaments (e.g., guardian, artisan, idealist, rational). In addition, Keirsey suggested useful descriptive names for each of the MBTI types (e.g., the inventor in the case of the ENTP). 
    • Developed by the psychologist Ned Herrmann, the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) is yet another well-liked concept to measure and describe thinking preferences in people. HBDI is based on a two-dimensional model grounded in theories on the development of the human brain. It distinguishes four brain modes (a cerebral vs. limbic mode and a left vs. right mode), and measures four related cognitive styles (A. analytical; B. practical; C. emotional; and D. experimental). The scores of an individual’s test result are presented within the context of a profiling map that shows which of the four styles is predominantly used by a test subject.
    • A related concept that leans on Herrmann’s model is the M.I.N.D. Design concept (M.I.N.D.) by Robert Alan Black. Like HBDI, Black distinguishes four styles that also christen the concept (M – Meditative; I – Intuitive; N – Negotiative; D – Directive), and uses the test results to indicate the extent to which a test subject draws upon each of the four styles. However, unlike the 120 profiling questions of HBDI, Black uses only nine questions to arrive at a largely accurate test result and descriptive report. 
    • An important profiling tool to captures style differences in creative problem-solving and innovation is Michael Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Inventory (KAI). KAI captures on a one-dimensional scale the degree to which someone prefers to think and work as an adapter (who likes improving on existing concepts) or an innovator (who enjoys coming up with new solutions). 
    • Roger Hamilton’s Wealth Dynamics (WD) concept also draws upon some constructs from Carl Jung’s work on personality style, but merges them with elements of the classic Chinese I Ching concept. WD uses four variables (dynamo, blaze, tempo, steel) to assign test subjects one of eight profiles (e.g., creator, star, supporter, deal-maker, among others). What is special about the WD concept is that Hamilton describes how certain profile types are better suited to lead a company at different points of time as the venture evolves and moves through the company life cycle. 
    • One more profiling concept that works with only two Jungian dimensions (extraversion vs. introversion and thinking vs. feeling) is Insights Discovery. Created by a father and son team (Andi and Andy Lothian), the concept turns a 2×2-matrix into four color types (fiery red, sunshine yellow, earth green, cool blue) and then arrives at eight colored profile types with business-related names (e.g. director, motivator, inspirer). 
    • Another well-known profiling instrument is the DISC behaviour assessment tool. Grounded in Marston’s DISC theory, this tool measures the prevalence of four different behavioural traits (dominance, influence, steadiness, and compliance) in a person. In its original version, it assigns a person one of 15 profile patterns (named achiever, investigator, developer, among others) based on the test results. 
    • Other cognitive profiling tools that you may come across include Miller’s Innovation Styles concept, Lafferty’s Life Styles Inventory (LSI), the Big Five personality traits (also known as the Five Factor Model), or the Enneagram.

    Yet other popular profiling tests don’t target personality or cognitive style, but emphasize other aspects that may also give useful hints. For example, Don Clifton’s Strengthfinder test determines the top 5 strengths of a person (from an overall set of 34 talent themes). For example, my top 5 talents when I did the test in 2008 were “intellection, ideation, input, learner, competition’.

    So which cognitive profiling tool should you use?

    My advice is to test every new profiling tool you come across and find appealing to possibly learn new nuances about yourself. You will notice that some tools really “click” with you and offer valuable new insights, while others may be well-reputed but don’t resonate with you. Never mind, that’s part of learning more about yourself.

    In any case, the more tools you use, the more you notice that certain personality traits and cognitive styles seem to overlap across various tests, thus pointing to a particular direction where your unique personality and related cognitive styles and talents reside. And the more tests you do, the more you also come across some surprising new factors that make you one-of-a-kind. It’s just like collecting more and more jigsaw pieces of nuances of your personality, and once you find the right missing piece, you suddenly see a wonderful wholesome picture of who you really are. 

    But coming back to our introductory scenario: What cognitive profiling tool can help you as a supposedly newly appointed Innovation Manager to reliably identify those creative types in your organization who genuinely are drivers and agents of innovation and organization change? And what tool can give you hints on how you can make everyone contribute to innovation in line with their preferred styles and natural talents? 

    For almost a decade, I hunted for such a cognitive profiling tool to lighten up the people-side of innovation, testing method after method with always the same result: Most methods had certain aspects that I really liked and found valuable and accurate, but also had some “bugs” or delivery gaps that I perceived to be sub-optimal, missing or plain “wrong”. And while thinking about how to improve on these perceived shortcomings, I suddenly had created my own profiling concept: TIPS, Thinkergy’s innovation people profiling system.

    I created TIPS with the intent to give individuals and organizations clear insights on how everyone can contribute to corporate innovation by using the preferred styles of each profile type. The TIPS innovation people-profiling method draws inspirations from theoretical constructs of a range of earlier cognitive profiling concepts listed above, but also includes new concepts adapted from other disciplines (e.g. evolutionary economics and social science).

    Interim conclusion and outlook

    While testing a great variety of different cognitive profiling tools and online personality tests, I’ve learned how to scrutinize the underlying conceptual constructs and design architecture of such methods. What conceptual features do almost all of these methods have in common? What shortcomings did I notice in many of the tools that I tested? And how does TIPS aim to cure these perceived ills? In two weeks, you’ll get the answers to these questions in a sequel to this article. 

    Do you want to learn more about TIPS? Would you like find out more about our TIPS training for your organization? Or would you like to take the TIPS profiling test yourself? Contact us and let us know more how we may help you. 

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2018

  • How to improve teamwork with TIPS

    In less than three months, the FIFA World Cup in Russia will kick off. Chances are that after the final, not the national squad with the most glamorous star, but the one with the best team will lift World Cup. What’s true in football is true in business, too: great teamwork matters. Today, let’s look at the art of composing and developing an effective team in business with the help of TIPS, Thinkergy’s innovation people profiling method.

    Introducing TIPS

    TIPS is a new cognitive profiling method that I’ve created for Thinkergy. The acronym TIPS stands for four base orientations (theories, ideas, people, systems) that drive people’s behavior in life and at work. With the help of a questionnaire that probes for these four bases and for four related cognitive styles, we profile people into one of 11 innovator profiles (Theorist, Ideator, Partner, Systematizer, Conceptualizer, Promoter, Organizer, Technocrat, Coach, Experimenter and All-Rounder).


    Each TIPS profile has certain natural talents and preferred styles that allow them to perform easily, effortlessly and enjoyably in certain ecosystems (industries, business functions, and organizational types). It’s similar to a position on the pitch in a football game, where certain players are born strikers, or central defenders, or goalkeepers. As in football, the challenge is to use everyone in a team to their best abilities and in ways that make the team effective — and once you know everyone’s TIPS profile, you can follow certain rules on how to best use each player and compose effective work teams.

    How to strengthen teamwork in an organization with TIPS?

    Teamwork is the combined action of a group of people, especially when effective or efficient. But how can we select the right players to make a business team effective and successful? And how can we develop the team as the business evolves? Here are eight recommendations on how to make everyone contribute to business success and align the players for effective and successful teamwork:

    1. Make everyone play in their natural position. Imagine you were a football coach and are lucky enough to have a world-class striker in your team. Where on the pitch would you position your star player? Would you play him in central defense so that he may work on his weaknesses? Or would you rather play him in offense where he has lots of opportunities to let his talent and natural strengths shine?

    Many companies and managers ask their staff to work on improving their weaknesses. I believe in the opposite strategy: Make everyone do those things that are naturally easy, effortless, enjoyable (remember the three Es) for them.

    For example, Ideators like myself like to drive change and create something new out of nothing. Promoters enjoy spreading the word and creating a buzz for a new idea, brand, or trend. Partners know all about their customers’ wants and needs because they deeply care for people.


    2. Use other profiles to fill in for your weaknesses.

    If everyone plays on their strengths, who takes care of those weaknesses that each of us has? The profile at the opposite end of your profile on the TIPS profiling map. 
For example, when working on an innovation case, Theorists enjoy rationally scrutinizing the evidence in a case, but tend to overlook taking into account the human factor. Positioned on the diagonal opposite end of the profile map, Partners have the most intimate customer knowledge and ensure that an innovation team considers the human factor is considered, too.

    3. Make the team composition fit its function. Depending on the main function that a business team performs, certain profiles tend to dominate and are more commonly found than others.

    For example, in an accounting department, most team members are likely to be Technocrats. In contrast, Partners and Promoters tend to prominently feature in a sales team. 
Similarly, certain profiles also tend to predominate certain industries. For example, when we look at different industries, the profile that is most common in a strategy consulting company is the Conceptualizers, while managers in retail companies are often Organizers.


    4. Balance a team with complementary profiles. Because certain profiles tend to dominate in a particular business function or industry, it is important to counterbalance the team with other profiles that support the majority and cover their weaknesses.

    For example, every sales team should have at least one Technocrat or Systematizer who makes sure that call reports are written, entries are accurately entered into an order system, and sales numbers are tracked and regularly discussed in a weekly sales pipeline meeting. Or to a consultant team full of big picture Conceptualizers on the road from client to client, add an Organizer to make sure that schedules are coordinated and kept, travel arrangements are booked and changed, and time sheets and expenditure sheets are filed in a timely way.

    5. Bridge gaps between opposites. In football, the midfielders act as connectors between defenders and strikers. In business, you may likewise use neighboring profiles to bridge a divide between teams that are operating on opposite frequencies.

    For example, many new innovation projects or marketing initiatives (driven by Ideators or Promoters) in banking nowadays get vetoed by officers in the compliance team (who are often Systematizers). Here, a Partner may act as ambassador to moderate the conflict between the sides by finding the lowest common denominator between the interest of the business side (bring in new revenues through innovation and new client acquisition) and compliance (mitigate legal risks, ensure compliance to regulatory requirements such as KYC (know your customer)).

    6. Balance complementing energies in a start-up venture. Most successful start-ups have a leadership team that balances three or even four different energies.

    For example, an ideal team for a tech start-up may comprise an inspiring Promoter as a CEO, a hands-on Organizer as a COO, a number-crunching Technocrat as a CFO, and a geeky Conceptualizer as a CTO. If the venture consists of a leadership triangle, a good combination may be an Ideator as CEO, a partner as Head of Sales, and a Systematizer as COO/CFO.


    7. Change the captain as your business moves into a new cycle phase. A venture moves through different corporate life cycle stages: first, creating a new product; launching and promoting the product; growing sales and customer relations; organizing the back-office to accommodate strong growth; creating stable systems and processes to consolidate the business; leveraging a business through modifications to product niches and adaptations to local markets; and finally, starting a new cycle through a new major product creation initiative.

    If you want to move to the next cycle phases, strengthen the profile that naturally drives this phase: Ideators in product creation, Promoters in launch, Partners for sales activities, Organizers to solidify the back-office, Systematizers to set-up efficient processes and systems, and Experimenters to twist and modify products.

    An alternative approach related to the quadrangular leadership team mentioned in the previous point, first have the CTO drive product development, then let the CEO lead the market introduction phase, then put the COO in charge to set-up the back office organization, and finally let the CFO drive the IPO and set-up of formal systems.


    8. Use All-Rounders to flexibly close gaps in the team. In almost every sports team, you find a few players that can play multiple positions in both offense and defense. While they might not be as good as the specialists, they do reliably well wherever you put them on the pitch.

    In TIPS, we call such players with a balanced set of skills and cognitive styles All-Rounders. Every business, and here in particular start-ups, do well of having one or a few All-Rounders in their team, as they feel home in any type of role and can easily fill gaps if your business grows rapidly or you face a period of staff turnover.

    Conclusion: “No individual can win a game by himself,” noted Pelé, the legendary Brazilian football star, three-time World Cup winner and world record holding scorer with 1,281 career goals. Often, the national team with the best teamwork wins the tournament, not the ones with one super star who everyone else follows. The famed US basketball player Michael Jordan put it this way: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” Composing an effective team in business is like forming a tournament-winning team in sport — and thanks to TIPS, it’s easy to create effective, focused and balanced teams for every function, industry and project in business.


    Have you become curious to find out more about your TIPS innovator profile? Or would you like to learn how to improve teamwork in your business in a TIPS Innovation Profiling Workshop?  Contact us to learn more about our innovation training courses and find out how you may purchase a coupon for our TIPS online personality test.

  • How to put the right people into the right job

    Wouldn’t it be great if all your new recruits fit perfectly  into the vacant positions you wanted them to fill? And if everyone on a team worked in a role that allowed them to let their talents shine and played on their strengths, while others compensated for any weakness?

    Some of the hardest things to get right in business are staffing open positions and aligning the members of a team so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. But what if there were a tool that allowed you to put the right people into the right job — and to turn your organization into a true “human capital bank”?

    Background:

    Thinkergy’s innovation people profiling method TIPS (theories, ideas, people, systems) profiles people based on their preferred styles of thinking, working, interacting, living, and innovating. Every candidate who answers the TIPS profiling questionnaire is classified in line with their cognitive preferences as one of 11 innovator profiles (theorist, ideator, partner, systematizer, conceptualizer, promoter, organizer, technocrat, coach, experimenter and all-rounder).

    While I created TIPS originally to improve the people side of innovation, it has many other applications, and can give organizations more talent and people awareness. So, how do we help organizations optimize their mix of human talents and put the right people into the right job?

    Step 1. Profile your staff:

    Start by making a small investment in your human capital by allowing us to profile all your staff to unveil their innovator profiles and personal styles. Ideally, send them also through a TIPS Innovation Profiling Workshop to animate their different styles and profiles.

    Step 2. Create a group profiling map:

    Next, we position each one of your employees on a TIPS group profiling map based on their test scores and innovator profiles; a group can be a work team, a department, a business unit, the entire organization, or all of the aforementioned. When looking at a group profiling map, we ask you a number of questions:

    • Is there any concentration of profiles in this group? Typically, a map reflects a dominant base and style in line with either your business function, industry, or corporate life cycle stage. 
For example, Thinkergy is an innovation company, and we’ve just began moving from the initial development to our growth phase. Thus we have a heavy profile concentration around the TIPS base “Ideas” and the TIPS style “Flow”.
    • Are there any profile gaps? When you notice a profile concentration, consider adding a few members to the team who are strong in those tasks that don’t come naturally easy to the others

     

    Step 3. Define each job profile:

    A good job profile describes in detail what each position is all about:

    • What responsibilities and regular tasks are associated with the role?
    • What outputs is the job owner expected to produce?
    • What decisions need to be made, and how important are these?

    Step 4. Link each job profile to specifics:

    How would you sum-up each job profile in just three words? We’ve created a deck with 33 cards (featuring descriptive attribute labels such as “entrepreneurial”, “conceptual” or “quantitative”) to translate a comprehensive job profile into the simple language of TIPS.

    We ask a client to pick those three attributes that best describe the essential success factors of each job profile. For example, attributes that fittingly describe a project manager responsible for implementing concrete projects could be “practical”, “operational” and “down-to-earth”.

    Step 5. Define suitable TIPS profiles for the role:

    Each of the 11 TIPS profiles links to three primary attributes. We use the descriptive labels that a client chooses for each role to recommend a primary, best-fitting as well as one to two secondary profiles. For example, profiles that fit to a project manager (based on the previously listed attributes) are the organizer (primary) and either partner or systematizer (secondary options).

    Step 6. Align the job to candidates with a fitting profile:

    If the position is already staffed, we check if the incumbent has one of the suggested TIPS profiles. If yes, all is already well. If not, we investigate if swapping the person with a better fitting colleague may lead to a mutually satisfying realignment that makes everyone happy and more productive.

    If a role isn’t staffed yet, or if no one in the organization has a fitting profile, then you need to recruit a new candidate — and you can use the TIPS personality test to profile each of them for a good fit.

    At the end of this exercise, you should have put every person into the right job —at least in theory. So, with the final step, you take care of linking theory with reality.

    Step 7. Track job satisfaction and teamwork improvement:

    Do a survey with each individual employee involved in the exercise a few weeks and then six months after the exercise to track satisfaction. Use the feedback to make further alignments if needed. If all is well, give yourself a pat on the back: You have mastered the science and art of putting the right person into the right job.

    Do you want to learn more about how our new innovation people profiling method TIPS can help you putting the right people into the right job? Contact us to find a certified TIPS trainer who can help maximize your organization's talent.

    © Dr. Detlef Reis 2017.