Friday, October 03, 2008

Knowing Thyself !

It's an art. Knowing yourself is an art and a skill.

I conduct a teaching workshop at Case, and in one of the workshops we discuss different personality types based on the Kolb learning style analysis. Some people hate it, some love it. When we analyzed it further, we realized that people hate it because they don't like being scrutinized and prototyped. Fair enough. But I like one part of that analysis, which focuses on what approach each individual is likely to take to solve a problem. I actually find it very useful. See the figure below to see how it works.

I always approach the problem solving with abstract conceptualization, concrete experience, reflection and action, in THAT order. In other words, I think first and then experience it, before doing it. I like it that way. I like to do my homework before getting into something. I feel I make a significant and thoughtful contribution if I have a concept ready in my mind and also some experience. I think I am a very organized person who likes to have everything thought about and in order. Its like a slow churning process. I am an assimilator. It is not necessarily good or bad, but that's what I am and I have to accept that.

Different people approach the same problem in different ways. I have observed that closely at work and otherwise. In common language, we call it a personality difference. Rarely, I came across some individuals, whom I respect a lot otherwise, but I found them very difficult to work with. Upon thinking about it (again !!) I realized that they had a different approach of approaching a problem, they liked to do things first before thinking about possible results and their short and long term effects. Funny. It seems very simple: So what, you will say. But its not that easy if there is a direct conflict. Sometimes the situation comes to a point where two individuals have totally diametrically opposite views and progress becomes impossible. I guess it is a wiser option to accept the fact and move on.

On the other hand, its so much more pleasing to work with people with similar working styles, and similar attitude in life in general. Its gives you so much more satisfaction. In common term, we call it as wavelength matching. I feel its nothing but having a similar learning and personality styles. Things become so uncomplicated and there is never a conflict.

Of course, there are in between cases and ways to work around conflicts. But if you are trying to tap the ideal case scenarios, if you are trying to find people whom you gel well with, then I think the learning style analysis would definitely work.

So if you think that some people think way too much (which many of you think very often) and they are crazy weirdos (which many of you think sometimes), before you start hating them (which happens very often), try to think about their learning styles (and yours too). May be, there is an answer and an explanation.


kage said...

the danger though with working with people of similar backgrounds and "wavelengths" is that the group will entirely miss something very obvious if looked at from another angle... it is therefore necessary to have people who not only think differently, but those who can rock the boat from different sides.

the challenge becomes finding people who are generally "right" (or successful) but have different styles and can work amiably with other people who have decidedly different and equally strong approaches!

Infinity said...

This reminded me of the Myer Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)personality test based on cognitive styles of individuals.In this test the four main preferences are Extroversion/ Introversion,Sensing/Intuition,Thinking /Feeling, Judging/Perceiving. This test helps in understanding your personality type and helps in identifying the personality types that would best match with you. This helps in team dynamics and balances the entire team productivity.