Sunday, March 29, 2015

Clifton Strengthsfinder

So, years ago I took some classes on leadership and part of the program included taking a variety of tests geared toward self-discovery. The goal was to help us determine how to use our skills, personality, and ultimately our strengths to be the best leader possible.

One of the tests we took was the Clifton StrengthsFinder. The themes I got back made a lot of sense to me and I have since then investigated if they work for me. I can definitely see where each of them resonates with me. My wife and a good friend of mine have also taken the test and they too got results that match what I believe their strengths are too.

Here are mine:

  1. Input - People with strong Input talents are inquisitive. They always want to know more. They crave information. They like to collect certain things, such as ideas, books, memorabilia, quotations, or facts.
  2. Activator - People who are especially talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient.
  3. Focus - People who are especially talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.
  4. Learner - People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
  5. Communication - People who are especially talented in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.
Despite the fact that these are my strengths and therefore things I do well naturally. I can also tell that these things are also themes I should focus on to make me happy and to feel productive. I seem to be the most satisfied with my day when I engage a few of these themes and work on their associated skills. For example, looking up a word of the day helps me with Input, Learner, and Communication all at once. Which is why I also think I am enjoying learning languages such as Korean while I am here on business. 

I feel more productive as a Activator by not being forced to wait for things. Some things I must be patient to achieve but I have loads of other projects I can be working on in the mean time. That helps me greatly with the impatience that seems to be inherent to people with this theme. 

Like any test, it is not perfect. I am sure there are things that are not black and white or do not fit perfectly. No more than the Myers-Briggs or Jung tests do. But all these things form pieces to a puzzle that I feel rarely gets examined.

So, the test is not free. It costs $10 to take but it does come with a report that tells you how to engage your themes and learn to use them. So, if you have ever taken this test, what are your themes? If not, it is well worth the investment in yourself.

https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/
 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Intentions and Results

By Nick and Tiffani Guinn

"One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than by their results." - Milton Friedman.

How many times do we begin working on a project or program where the results differ from what we expect? Or a set of policies are designed for our company to help us understand how to handle our hiring practices. However, these outdated and ineffective policies do not work and are only around because they were DESIGNED to do A and consequences B, C, and D are totally ignored as they were not the intention. Could be the person that designed the policy is too far removed from the results to fully understand the results and doesn't think changes need to be made.

This sort of thing happens in our personal and professional lives all too often. But we hold on to our intentions like they are gold and discard the results as unrelated. After all, they do not support the conclusion we wanted or expected. Never mind that those results might tell us a great deal about where we went wrong or how we might aide in improving on our process.

Having a clear goal or intention is critical for success to be possible. Paying close attention to the results and adjusting policy based on those results is equally important.

The quote from Mr. Friedman is an excellent re-focusing tool. Something that should be used to drive the changes needed to improve the outcomes we want. In our personal lives an individual working toward improving their fitness will be much more successful adjusting his plan to fit the results. The same exercise plan based on intentions might work well for someone that is 100 pounds overweight but that food and exercise plan are not likely to get the desired results when the person gets down to only 10 or 20 pounds to lose.

For business or government policy, the intention is important but if they policy does not achieve the desired results, we cannot bury our head in the sand. Examine the results of your efforts with a blank slate. Trying not to seek the expected results only but also how to analyze the unexpected results for their applicability to your future work.

Any intention or goal should drive the work forward and help to maintain focus. In the end, the results should be used to help us understand the effectiveness of our efforts.