• Zarmina Penner

Enter “The Thinking Buddy”

How you can easily improve the productivity of your team

Simply put, there are two types of people in the world:

1) Those who enjoy focusing on the big picture.

2) Those who enjoy focusing on details.


Type 1 excels in strategy and conceptual work and enjoys thinking about the future and the next generation of projects, products, and services. Their intuition and inspiration will serve to optimize the future quality of the business.


Type 2 excels in the running of the business, i.e., in operations, and enjoys double-checking plans, documents, data; you name it. And they want to deliberate the past and current status and build secure foundations. Their intuition and inspiration will serve to optimize the current quality of the business.


Both types love what they do; therefore, they excel.


A third type seemingly straddles both worlds well; however, despite that, you will notice there will still be a clear preference. We all know the manager who always talks strategy and the big picture and finds the minutest incorrect sum in the spreadsheet.

Issues arise when you give a type 1 person type 2 pieces of work. That's when things skid to a halt, and problems of unreliability and quality of work arise. So often we focus on non-talents and put pressure on people to change. Not helpful.

I see it happening all the time.


Why is this important?

Well, because it causes trouble in the flow of work when someone is unable to deliver. The reputation of the person gets a hit. Attempts to coach the person into the opposite type will fail. And so on.

Furthermore, we will be dealing with more complexity and information overload in the foreseeable future — best to prepare.


How can you diagnose a situation correctly?

By reflecting on the challenges of your direct reports, it will be apparent where the delays and frustrations lie.

If in doubt, do the MBTI test for free (and here's another one). Look at the four letters of the MBTI Personality Type. If there is an N (N=Intuition) in it, then it is a Type 1 person. If you find an S (S=Sensing), then it's a Type 2. Super easy.


How can you avoid this situation easily?

Ask the person what type of work they enjoy doing and give them precisely that (ideally, when they start working for you). Use their talent and let it develop itself naturally within the scope of their work.


Now here is the inspiration for boosting team productivity:

Pair up Type 1 and Type 2 members of your team (Thinking Buddies). Naturally, chemistry and trust are part of the equation. With suitable instruments, bonding is possible. Let them try it out and report back. It will also promote team spirit and closeness in general.

Before you initiate the Thinking Buddy system in your team, test it by pairing up yourself for a couple of months. You will see what works in your environment and what doesn't.


Typically, teams led by a Type 1 with a Type 2 Thinking Buddy close will excel. Think Orville and Wilbur Wright, who introduced the first powered human flight in 1903. Besides having knowledge and experience, they had the right mix of personalities and skills — Orville was the creative inventor (Type 1), while Wilbur was more grounded and reflective. (Type 2).


By the way: Should the work require empathy for others, then look for an F (feeling) in the MBTI Personality Type.



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Photo by Jopwell from Pexels

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