Myers-Briggs and BPM

mbti (thanks to personality tests – how does this apply to business processes?

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is a questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. There are 16 possible combinations of characteristics that are an indicator of what of personality you possess. The goal of knowing about personality type is to understand and appreciate differences between people and all types are equal.

For example, I am an INTJ.  What this means is:

  • I – Introversion preferred to extraversion: INTJs tend to be quiet and reserved.
  • N – Intuition preferred to sensing: INTJs tend to be more abstract than concrete.
  • T – Thinking preferred to feeling: INTJs tend to value objective criteria above personal preference.
  • J – Judgment preferred to perception: INTJs tend to plan their activities and make decisions early.

The main characteristics of the Myers-Briggs indicator include:

So, can the Myers-Briggs test be adapted by a business process? After all, a business process could have predictable or unpredictable outcomes.  It could be outward facing to customers or inward facing to the organization. It could be very rigid or allow for multiple variations.

Take my favorite process, expense automation.  In this process I input my expenses into a system and after resolving the typical requests for missing or inaccurate data, I receive a deposit advice in my checking account. How could you apply Myers-Briggs to this process? Well it is an inward facing process, it is sensing because of the use of a common form, thinking because the next step is anticipated and the types of exceptions are included and well documented in the process, and it is judgmental, I either enter the data correctly or not. So, in this case, is the process an ISTJ?

It would be interesting to apply this to multiple processes and determine the process Myers-Briggs indicator, but I will leave that to the extroverts.

If you have any comments on this blog, I would love to hear them.


pixelstats trackingpixel

By Kevin Feldhus @ Perficient Inc. | May 28, 2012

7 Responses to Myers-Briggs and BPM

  1. This is a good example of a dated assessment designed for HR folks. However, it has little relevance to business people beyond learning about themselves. It’s a fun exercise for individuals but largely irrelevant to the business which needs to know aggregate numbers. If I’m ESTJ – so what? Oldschool and irrelevant.

    Business people communicate with numbers and there is absolutely nothing numerical about Myers-Briggs.

    What’s far more interesting and relevant for process management professionals is to quantitatively score how process-centric an entire team is (not just individuals). This way the business knows how a change will impact team performance – does the sales team embrace change? does engineering hate change? This is important insight for the business to know in advance and should be factored in when modeling processes.

    If understanding team context quantitatively > a meaningless individual qualitative score for your business, you are encouraged to search for analytics-driven alternatives to MB.

  2. So the MBTI is about 50 years dated, old school, and passé.

    There a a raft-load of other assesment tools out there, none much better or worse in my experience, unless you follow them up with a 2-hour minimun session with a good psychometrics/psych/HR person.
    Something only the largest orgs employ, and even then, often only on a consulting/project basis.

    I’d endorse Mike’s views – what i try to do on any project (from a solutions, EA, or BPx view) is try to heatmap all the people. Or teams.
    What capability do they bring, whats in it for them, what will change for them, do they care, can they do anything about it… so forth.

    Allways worked well for me, and one of the standard tools in my armoury…

  3. Thank you for your comments, my intent was to show that based on my experience, processes take on the personalities or the process owner (if there is one) or the business. I think this is something that process professionals need to keep in mind when designing processes, otherwise you may end up not innovating. I appreciate Mike’s perspective from an organizational change perspective, critical for a BPM project to be successful.

  4. Pingback: Myers-Brigg and BPM | Perficient Business Process Management Blog

  5. Wow! Kind of surprised at the “old” comments about MBTI. Just because something is old does not make it irrelevant. And sometimes, as is the case with MBTI, being old means it has stood the test of time. As far as self assessments instruments go, it is the best researched, qualified and validated instrument out there. If used it my entire career in coaching people and building effective teams.

    As for process mapping, I’d be interested in how the four basic “temperaments” of type relate to various processes. Typing the process itself seems to be a bit of a stretch.

  6. It’s interesting to apply a theory of psycho-social types to the world of work and technology, including business process technology.

    But as several of the previous comments have indicated, the selection of MBTI is not without some questions. The history of MBTI itself is interesting. And there are big questions about MBTI’s popularity, specifically as to whether or not it can be classified as “science”, i.e. whether or not it is a body of knowledge with some predictive power and which can withstand falsification tests. My own sense of the question is that MBTI is a species of formalized common sense which is descriptive only, and typically used as a rhetorical form in the context of organizational interactions. One could say then that MBTI is more “symptom” than “solution”.

    So, why would we want to discuss MBTI or any other theory of group behaviour, on the BPM Leader forum?

    Given the challenges around BPM adoption, searching for the business and social context of BPM adoption and usage is a good idea. BPM adoption challenges are not only “technical” (especially “master data management” and “validation”) but also substantially about “corporate and process governance”. I suggest continuing to look for tools of understanding, especially related to questions of governance, that can help smooth the successful adoption of BPM.

    So, thanks for bringing up the question — because the question of the context of BPM technology is important! The fact that I don’t think we should stop with MBTI should not be seen as anything other than an accolade!

  7. I have done a lot of business process engineering. I don’t know that MBTI is useful to designing or evolving a process but it is absolutely useful to communicating about the process, getting buy in and acceptance of it. I have found that understanding the profile of those that I communicate with (if know) helps me to adjust my message accordingly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>