Focus on What They Wear Throw Away Myers-Briggs

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My original title was going to be ”Just Hire Skirts” but I was told in no uncertain terms that some might find that offensive, regardless of my message 🙂 .  There is the famous story of Michael Jordan never winning a championship till the 1991 finals against the Lakers (I watched at the clubhouse in Pebble Beach with a number of clients on a TV we had them drag in during our dinner- the club was not happy 🙁 ) when his coach pointed out to him that he was part of  a team, and Paxson was open while Jordan was being double teamed and missing shots.  Bill Russell (11 championships in 13 years) was asked if the Miami Heat was going to win when they first assembled the Dream Team (LeBron, Dwayne and Chris) and he said – “NO” with his explanation being “One Ball”. 

Much has been written about the importance of teams and how to form them.  Popular thinking has been to mesh personalities (based on tools like Myers-Briggs “MB”) and Cass Sunstein (author of Nudge, White House advisor) has some very strong arguments debunking both the premise of effective teams (because of meshing of personality types) and using MB to determine personality types.  The predictive power of personality tests is very dubious according to most research and an “MB score is going to be totally useless for purposes of prediction or for deigning a team”.  His other argument is that MB intrinsically has low test-retest reliability – meaning you will get different results 50% of the time when you retake the test (I can attest to that personally).

While he concedes that the collective IQ of a team does determine outcomes, Sunstein uses the research by MIT to introduce a new measure of collective IQ of the team called Factor C.  It consists of three different metrics:

  1. The average score on a test of Social Perception (the reading the mind in the eyes test- Invented by Borat’s brother) – higher scores equal higher performance
  2. Uneven Participation – Dominant types have negative impact on performance
  3. Number of XX chromosome members – more women on a team equals higher performance (can we please stop the discussion on this topic already and start adopting this premise)

For those of you who have been through the full blown “Teaming” portion of our curriculum, all this will be very familiar and a number of simulations will come to mind (some humorous and some embarrassing memories for sure).

Having the core competency as an organization to assemble, launch and effectively utilize teams is most critical today and unfortunately sorely lacking in most companies.  We have seen major Transformation efforts fail  because clients continue to “under invest” in this.  In almost every client engagement, we attempt to demonstrate how to utilize teams effectively by launching joint teams but the attention to the art and science of teams is quickly abandoned.

Most Competency Development or training programs often miss the mark on this as well.  By minimizing the focus on “soft skills” or Strategic Competencies, they fail to enhance exactly those competencies that lead to better teams.  By not providing experiential learning, which can get quite uncomfortable for many participants (but is exactly why it’s a powerful learning experience), they don’t provide a safe, constructive learning environment for people to practice new behaviors and discard bad ones.

By the way, my views on women in the workplace are well known.  If you were smart, you should  go to the third metric listed above and just focus on the chromosomes – make sure you have as few Y chromosomes on your teams as possible.  It turns out that women consistently score better than men on the first metric and it would be hard to argue that the second metric is much more of a Y chromosome (male) trait.  Like I was saying – Just Hire More Skirts!! .  Next time, be known as a genius…. look around the room and count the skirts on the team and you can predict their success.  Just don’t tell them you were counting skirts.


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Dalip Raheja is President and CEO of The Mpower Group (TMG). Dalip has over 30 years of experience managing large organizations and change initiatives. He has worked across the spectrums of supply chain management, strategic sourcing, and management consulting.

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