#74 I Have A Solution!

by Steven Cerri on September 29, 2008

“Updating in real time.”

Hello everyone!

I received a comment from Dorothy McKinney regarding my last blog in which I didn’t say a lot of nice things about Myers-Briggs, DiSC, Enneagram, and other “systems” that purport to tell us who we are and how to manage others. (By the way, I really appreciate it when people make comments… I like the dialog and we all learn from each other.)

Dorothy’s comments centered on the usefulness of these systems to bring to our awareness the understanding that each of us does indeed have some programming that we can be aware of and that these systems can be useful in helping us to understand how others are different from ourselves.

She also indicated that when we are having some challenges with others we can refer back to these systems for guidance in what might work.

I agree completely with everything Dorothy posted in her comment. No disagreement there.

When I manage individuals or teams I always, or close to always, tell them never to bring me an issue, a question, or problem without having at least one, preferably two solutions that they think will work because if I don’t have a better solution, we’re going to use one of their solutions.

So what kind of facilitator would I be if I didn’t walk my talk? It is true that I complained about the short-comings of Myers-Briggs, DiSC, and Enneagram last week. But if I’m to walk my talk I had better have a better solution to present and that is what I’m doing this week. Dorothy’s comments are right on and she and I agree that while the systems I mentioned are useful they don’t provide prescriptive information. So here is the $64,000 question: “Is there a way to get prescriptive information?”

The answer is “yes”, and that is the solution I bring to the table. I want a system that allows me to adjust my management, leadership, influence, and communication processes in “real time”. For example, is there anyone reading this blog who would suspect that they might behave differently if they arrived at a company meeting having just had a flat tire on a freeway while it was pouring rain versus arriving at the meeting knowing they had just won a $20 million lottery? Of course. We all know from personal experience that context changes our processes. We all understand that context does make a difference.

Personality systems have a very difficult time taking into account context. And context changes in real time. One minute it’s this and the next minute it’s that.

These systems are also difficult to administer to your customers and to people who have no interest in taking a personality test.

Therefore, while these systems have benefits about which both Dorothy and I agree, they also have significant drawbacks. In response, I developed my own approach with the help of research that was conducted at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

The system I use and teach allows a person to determine, in real time, the communication and influence processes preferred by the person or people receiving the communication or influence. It allows a person to determine the decision strategies of people being influenced. All this can be done in a conversational mode. No written tests or questionnaires are required and it’s done in real time. And by the way, all this in about 5 to 15 minutes; max!

This approach, this system has been proven out over 20 years. It works. It’s respectful. It’s accurate and effective.

The other approaches I’ve talked about are similar to taking a snapshot of a fast moving event, like a car race or a mountain bike run. The approach I use is like riding along in the race car or being right there on the handle bars as the mountain bike is running the course. Why have a snap shot when you can have the movie, while it’s being recorded.

People and situations are constantly shifting, constantly changing. Any system that forces people to be static will be accurate only part of the time.

An approach that can elegantly keep up with the twists and turns of human communication and influence processes is going to be much more accurate and effective.

On more point. Engineers are notorious for not wanting to hear the psychological jargon of personality tests and emotional processes. The approach I take is all about “processing information”, not personalities. I haven’t had one engineer ever feel uncomfortable learning about their communication processes or about understanding how to better communicate and influence colleagues and customers.

Be well,

Steven Cerri

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