Why nuances matter in profiling personality and cognitive style
Why nuances matter in profiling personality and cognitive style
August 23, 2023
Some people look at the world in a black-and-white way. They classify people, things, actions, and events as good or bad, valuable or not helpful, exciting or dull, hot or cold, tasty or bland, beautiful or ugly, and other dichotomies. In contrast, the universal genius Leonardo da Vinci recommended, “Look at everything from at least three different perspectives.” True to this notion, creative people notice the plentitude of colors in the world. They know that in life, nuances matter and can make a huge difference. And that’s why TIPS, the talent and innovator profiling system that I’ve created for thinkergy, provides you with much additional information beyond the mere profile of a person so that you can take in the finer nuances of a personality. Let me explain.
A metaphor of why nuances matter
“For me, each nuance of a color is in some way an individual, a being who is not from the same race as a base color, but who definitely possesses a distinct character and a personal soul,” noted the French artist Yves Klein.
I grew up in a small rural town in Germany. Like most Europeans, when I looked at someone from the Far East, I registered this person as “Asian.” Then I was assigned to work in Asia by my employer Deutsche Bank. In the first two weeks, I attended a regional cash management conference in Singapore, allowing me to study and notice the subtle nuances in the facial features of my colleagues from different Asian countries.
Nowadays, I can pinpoint quite successfully if an Asian I meet is likely to originate from Japan, Korea, China, India, or one of the various South-East Asian countries. Moreover, having lived for almost two decades in Bangkok, I sometimes can even guess correctly what part of Thailand a Thai person with distinct facial features originally comes from. My formerly limited worldview of Asians has evolved tremendously, and now I genuinely appreciate the many colors, shades, and shapes of Asian people. Clearly, nuances do matter.
The black-and-white worldview in personality profiling
Likewise, many personality profiling methods provide test subjects with some scores or a profile without explaining the finer nuances of a profiling result. For example, you might learn that you’re an ENFP in 16 Personalities (a popular free version of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, MBTI) or a Visionary in Adobe Creative Types, but that’s about it.
For me, that’s just as gross as simply classifying people as Asians, Caucasians, Africans, etc., and it blends out almost all finer nuances that make people distinct and unique. That’s why in TIPS, we not only distinguish people into 11 different TIPS profiles but also provide valuable additional pointers to the profiled talents and their line managers, human resources managers, and innovation managers. This supplementary information is intended to help each party appreciate more nuances of each profiled person and especially understand how people with the same profile differ in their subtler details.
Appreciating the finer nuances of a TIPS profile
So what is this subtle information beyond the actual TIPS profile? In a TIPS profiling report, we also share and explain a person’s type, the sub-orientation, and the development level of each profile. In the following, I will explain what each of these features means and why knowledge of these finer nuances is valuable. I will also touch upon a piece of additional information that we communicate to borderline cases.
Profiles types: How many bases drive you?
The 11 TIPS profiles fall into 3 type categories, which tell you how many base orientations a profile is attracted to:
The four pure profiles (Theorist, Ideator, Partner, Systematizer) firmly rest on one of the four TIPS bases (Theories, Ideas, People, Systems) at the corners of the TIPS profiling map.
The six dual profiles (Conceptualizer, Promoter, Organizer, Technocrat, Coach, and Experimenter) locate between two bases.
Finally, one multiple profile (All-Rounder) balances the bases and sits in the center of the TIPS profiling map.
So, the profile type reveals if a person is mainly energized by one TIPS base, is attracted to two bases, or harmonizes three or all four bases — and you can see it immediately by the profile’s position on the TIPS Profiling Map.
Subprofiles: Which of the two bases do you favor more as a dual profile?
The six dual profiles can have a sub-profile orientation (theoretical, imaginative, popular, or systematic), which indicates whether a profile sits between two bases or leans more towards one base. For example, a Promoter may be balanced — or tilt more towards the Ideas-base (Imaginative Promoter such as the young Steve Jobs) or the People-base (Popular Promoter such as talk show host Oprah Winfrey).
Development levels: How strongly evolved is your profile?
Your TIPS profiling report also specifies your profile’s relative development level (emerging, developed, pronounced, extreme). Most people are still on an emerging level, meaning they clearly identify with their profile but not in an inescapable way.
Once a profile reaches the level of “developed” or even higher, the person should really follow the “success game plan” of this talent & innovator profile.
For example, I am profiling as an Ideator on an extreme level. What I have done in the past two decades (creating original innovation methods, running an innovation know-how company, and facilitating energetic creativity and innovation workshops) aligns perfectly with my talent sweet spot. And whenever I notice that I feel out of my creative flow, it tells me that I am doing too many things that don’t match what I can do best.
Raising awareness of “borderline cases”
Finally, we inform profiled talents if their profiling result is “borderline.” What does this mean? Every profiling method uses algorithmic rules that link a particular score to one distinct profile. Inevitably, whenever a method thus “cuts profiles,” there are a few results where two profiles border each other (i.e., if one score number changes, you move from the current profile to the bordering profile).
So, if I notice such a borderline case, I flag it up and inform these talents and their HR team accordingly. For example, a person might profile as an All-Rounder but is “borderline a Systematizer,” indicating that while overall she currently exhibits balanced cognitive styles, she’s showing a tendency towards moving to the Systems-base.
Conclusion: Life is more than just black and white
Recently, I noticed a modification on the TIPS results worksheet that we share with the Human Resources team of one of the companies that use TIPS as a central pillar of its talent management. Interestingly, one HR team member had thought it was sufficient to keep the TIPS profile of each of their talents and deleted all the other information I shared with the team (profile type, sub-profile orientation, development level, and any borderline cases). I re-added the deleted data and apologized to the HR counterparts that I hadn’t briefed them in detail about the importance of these additional profile elements. Then, I explained to them what they mean and why they matter to understand better the finer nuances in the personality of each of their profiled talents. After all, just as life isn’t only black and white, so can details help to appreciate the subtle colors of talents better when it comes to profiling personality and preferred cognitive style.