Friday, December 21, 2007

General MBTI Activity

A transition application between awareness and team dynamics exercises....
Time--Between 1-1.5 hours (I've never completed it in an hour).

One exercise I do that seems consistently extremely effective, and is an adaptation from one commonly done during the MBTI qualification process. Once the "awareness" exercises are complete (i.e., "like" groups together, clarifying similar type behavior),

1) Move everyone to an open space in the room (or hallway, or outside). Have everyone physically line up (from E-I), leaving as much space as needed to really represent their strength of preference. I stand in the middle, and represent "0". Careful instructions are needed! They can use their actual scores, if they want, for guidance. ( I sometimes have them already charted.)

2) Ask them to comment on what they observe from the line-up. Light bulbs start popping, and often they start saying--now I know why we/you/I ....___________! Note that a thorough grounding, and the initial exercises, have already built a foundation of understanding!
3) Ask them questions centered around their own group dynamics, their line-up, and the particular type continuum being addressed. Usually, I focus on their team meetings. For example; for E/I--
· "Who speaks up most frequently in meetings? Least?"
· "How does that affect the way information is shared, decisions are made, people feel about the meeting?"
· " Is what you experience in meetings consistent with what you see in this line-up?"
It's fun to point out that even in this (E-I) discussion, the dynamics of the group (level of participation, etc.) are usually consistent. Let it play out for a while, then consciously note the impact.
· Ask the E's, "How much have you learned about the I's?" Ask the I's, "How much have the I's learned about the E's?" "What can you do right now to alter this dynamic?"
· "How do people on (E-side, then I-side) feel about the way this dynamic plays into your meetings and discussions?" "What are some ways you might be misunderstanding the intent of what is happening?" (Usually this is quite an open, fun discussion).
· " What are some positive and potentially negative impacts of these dynamics?"
· "What can you do as a team to ensure higher levels of involvement?" (Help them think about time, e-mail, etc. as a valuable tool to leverage "I" processing, etc.)

(Can also set the stage for future discussion of Argyris' work on Ladder of Influence, etc.).

4) Chart these suggestions for them, and help them to integrate into their future meetings, etc. Have them be very behaviorally specific on their suggestions. "What could you say?" "When in your meeting could you incorporate these techniques to build consistency, good habits, etc.?"

5) Have them switch to the next three types, (S-N, T-F, J-P). I tailor each of the questions and discussions to the particular type and relative team impacts/dynamics. Note that they are standing (or wheeling), and re-aligning each time. I find this keeps the conversation moving and everyone alert. This is a great physical approach that incorporates more visual "kinesthetic" learning and reinforcement of this model. Moving to a different physical space also infuses the learning with focus and energy.

Some Concerns to Note
I find that the differences are not always clear in the outcomes of these exercises, especially in the S/N and T/F exercises. I think that's because the behavior becomes somewhat "contaminated" by the culture of the organization. Especially in more traditional technical industries (engineering-oriented, chemical, manufacturing), the N's and the F's have learned effective behavior that is often counter to their preference.

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