Re: Myers-Briggs LO2041
Tue, 11 Jul 1995 15:32:03 -0400

Replying to LO1985 --

Pete Heineman (in LO1985) made a couple of key points which I don't think
were perceived. These points regard the use of the MBTI vs its intended

A past work organization of mine tried (tries) to use the MBTI as a
teambuilding tool. Since a good understanding of the types and their
preferences can help each of us more quickly and accurately understand
another's frame of reference (paradigm, if you will), the MBTI becomes an
intuitively useful tool in fostering better communications and, ergo, more
of a sense of "teamness" within a so-educated organization. The MAJOR
drawback to this reasoning, though, is that the people in that, or almost
any organization, don't fully understand what the different types mean
after a 1-2 hour explanation. Also, putting this knowledge to use is not
as easy as the "been there, done that" mentality that so pervades most
organizations. It is precisely the inability of most organizations or
consultants to bring about this applicability of the MBTI concepts that,
IMHO, prevents the MBTI from being a useful tool in business.

Example: A high level manager who was trying to get better working
relations within his organization had a serious problem with turf and
empire-building among his direct reports. This was the result of a
complex set of circumstances which included a very distant style of
management and an "open door" policy perceived by most as "the door is
open, so make an appointment through your supervisor." It was pointed out
on numerous occasions that lasting organizational change of the type he
wanted would also require a change in this manager's individual management
style. This was an obviously painful prospect for him.

Part of the change efforts included the aforementioned teambuilding
effort. Once the results were in and "explained," the manager came out as
INTJ - heavy on the introversion scale. The manager's response was that,
since the MBTI showed him to be an introvert ... that was his style, he
had no reason to do anything differently. All other nuances of what that
particular type meant, what the types of the direct reports meant, and how
to apply that knowledge to build better working relations among that group
were forgotten. The office door physically closed and things went further

The instrument was not at fault here. The problem here was that the
organization (manager and all) was unable to understand and apply the
knowledge gained by the MBTI results. The shortcoming on the parts of
both the consultants and the management was thinking that simply informing
the participants of this knowledge would lead to changed behavior. Actual
application was never a part of the effort or, as far as I know, the
overall plan.

It is because of repeated instances of exactly this example that I have
stopped considering the MBTI as a useful tool. An understanding of the
MBTI types and how to apply them helps ME function better as a consultant.
But I have found some of the other, less statistically proven, tools to be
easier to understand and apply by my clients. I use my knowledge of the
MBTI to help me explain and apply the results of these other tools so far
as there is a realistic connection.

J. Clyde Howell
The Howell Group