Work and Personality Types Redux

In my previous post, I dipped in to my highly unqualified opinion that a difference in introvert and extrovert skill sets may be holding back some Lean progress.  This post again is me drifting out of my lane to discuss this topic.  This time, I want to offer some ideas on how to help bridge the gap.

As a point of clarification, I don’t really think there is such a thing as a true introvert or true extrovert.  We all have tendencies to behave at different points on the scale for different behaviors.  There are social introverts and shy extroverts.  I’m mostly focused on the behavior of deeply reflecting and sharing of communications.  I think we all have experience with the Lean “salesman” type who seems to be good at whipping people in to frenzy, but doesn’t really deal with things past the surface or visual level.  On the other end are those that are the Lean “bookworms” who can critically produce and analyze any of the systems and their impact, but don’t seem to get much buy in or engagement.   The “salesman” types tend to get a lot of attention because they best fit in to the culture of American management because they share similar traits.

The “bookworm” types have half a library available to them.  Frankly, they could pick anything up from Dale Carnegie, Tony Robbins, or a dozen other authors.  I think the key here is the mental filter and realization that it is going to take some practice to build those skills.  I don’t think there is any value in trying to take a reflective, pensive introvert and turn them in to a clone of Robbins.  It seems like an inefficient use of talent.  However, it is very necessary for those with the skills to learn how to move the needle with other people.

The “salesman” types could use a very slow re-read of the works of Ohno, Imai, or one of Liker’s fine texts.  This should be done with the purpose of understanding before completion.   If practicality is more the goal, they could create their own Ohno circle type activities and force themselves to practice looking deep.  Again, it shouldn’t be about changing the underlying personality as much as it is about adding to the technical skill set.

In both cases, it may help to partner up with someone who may be seen as being a polar opposite to your style.  They may not even need the exact skill set that you are looking for, as long as they can share some of their tips and help coach and reinforce the behaviors.   If it helps, think about it as small scale mentoring to help spread the Lean message.

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Posted on June 26, 2012, in Culture, Engagment, People and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Robbie B Westmoreland

    It seems odd to suggest that both groups (the bookish and the social) go study books to rectify their deficiencies. Perhaps in recognizing that different people bring different talents to the Lean table, we should also recognize that those different people are going to learn best in different ways. While study might be the best solution for a lot of people, perhaps those who aren’t scholastically inclined would learn best by stepping a few times through the A3/PDCA process with proper emphasis on the required disciplines championed by Ohno and others in the pantheon.

    Your last paragraph is totally on point, but doesn’t go far enough, IMO. One reason the Lean approach of getting everyone involved in problem solving and kaizen works so well is that groups of individuals tend to cover for one another’s weaknesses and make available a variety of strengths.

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