Re: Myers-Briggs LO2100

Bill Godfrey (
Fri, 14 Jul 1995 18:47:11 +1000

Replying to LO2055

>One question, however: Are you aware
>of any substantive research, even solid personal experience, which in any
>way connects MBTI types or application with effective work team
>development and performance.

Yes, quite a number of the organisations I have worked with make extensive
use of Myers-Briggs and do find that knowledge of its principles help -
provided that it is properly used.

As was pointed out earlier, it is not a psychometric instrument but is
about preferences. We need to remember that it describes preferred ways of
perceiving and acting, that people often spend much if not most of their
time - particularly at work - acting in other ways than their preferred
ways and that the object for an individual is not to 'know their type' as
if it was an excuse for acting in certain ways, but to recognise where
there may be opportunities for growth - to increase their repertoire.

Only too often introduction to Myers-Briggs is by what we in Australia
call the 'sheep dip' method - a quick plunge into the alphabet, a quick
shake and you're 'done'. That is worse than useless and leads to the
'labelling' mentality which brings the concept into disrepute.

The 'disciplines' (Senge) to which Myers-Briggs attaches are Mental Models
and Team Learning. I have found it very useful in introducing the concept
of mental models by being able to demonstrate, very easily, systematic
differences in ways in which people tend to behave according to type. It
is also possible to show that - and why - some people are (for example)
much more comfortable with divergent thinking than others and to
demonstrate protocols which will make it easier for people of different
types to work more effectively together, whether in teams or at meetings.
Where the objective is to use difference to enrich team understanding,
shared understanding of the Jungian 'dimensions' is in practice helpful in
getting there.

I don't think it should ever be used as a selection instrument, but it can
be useful in considering team balance. I have worked in organisations in
which one type is totally dominant and it is easy to predict what they
will do well and easily and what they will find difficult. I spent five
years with such an organisation, in which it was demonstrable that an
infusion of people with other preferences (and giving them a hearing)
contributed to the success of a difficult program of change.

To me the message is simple. If you are going to use it, do it properly
and make sure that people have more than a superficial understanding. Do
not use it for the things for which it is not intended - particularly
selection for jobs. Do work to ensure that people know how to make use of
diversity and recognise that, while Myers-Briggs (or any other instrument)
is not necessary to achieve that, it can be very useful.

Bill Godfrey <>