Are MBTI/Insights/Personality Profiles still worth doing?


Quick answer. Yes

3 BIG caveats

1) Use wisely and get someone to help you interpret profiles in line with the latest neuroscience and psychology, rather than relying just on the various commercialised products arising from Jung (MBTI/Insights etc) or Marston (DiSC etc) Brilliant minds and some great subsequent interpretations. But Jung/Marston did published their original works on psychological types on which these tools are based in 1921 and 1928 respectively and things have moved on a bit.

2) Don’t slavishly adhere to one version of “the truth” and treat whichever profile you did as “the answer”. It’s all helpful information to use as a start point, but there is not a silver bullet that will change your life and help you to suddenly make friends, get promoted or be a successful and popular leader who gets everyone to be both excited and productive. Remember that the products arising from the 1920’s psychology have now given rise to extremely lucrative businesses. So of course you will be told that “ours is different” and it will change your business for the better, forever… Mmmm.

3) Don’t use it to make excuses based on “your type” and  evidence/pretend that you can’t do things because you are Red/Blue, Introverted etc” Best to be honest and say “ I just don’t like doing that and I’m looking for an excuse.”

BIG caveats aside, I have had some remarkable results and some stunning ROI for individuals and organisations that were based on insights (with a small “i”) that stemmed from a session understanding and talking about their own personality profile or a team’s collection of “types”.

I can only speak from my own experience. What I have found is that used sensibly, the profiles give you a shared and balanced language that enables you to receive and interpret helpful feedback from other people about what you are doing that drives them to distraction.

Having words other than “I hate you and you are useless” enables you  to have a productive discussion with someone about what they are doing that cramps your own style, rather than rant to your other half about them, wasting your precious leisure time in the process.

We use a good old mixture of the psychologies for our common sense (and quick and pretty cheap) approach to psychological profiling. Our clients tells us it works wonders. But we suspect that is as much about encouraging and giving people the physical tools to have “top right” – high challenge and high trust conversations after reading their profile than the profile itself.

A personality profile is a starter for 10. Reading it and exclaiming how remarkable it is and how well it seems to have captured your brilliance and your “allowable weaknesses” gets you about 1% of it’s potential. It’s super easy to do that bit. Therefore a lot of people do it!

The hard work (and thus the big wins) come when real people use the knowledge in the real world. Use the profiles to have really difficult conversations. Give and receive really tough feedback. Feel vulnerable and have to dig deep resilience-wise to bounce back from uncomfortable truths.

And keep those horribly difficult conversations going and going…

Not many people do that bit because having started, they suddenly become much too busy with the day job or the latest organisational call to arms which needs their immediate and full attention.

We call that avoidance “Look a bear”. But that is an entirely different story!