Thursday, June 12, 2008

Are they M&Ms, or little circular windows into our inner being?

In a very intersting posting, Kimberly Wiefling discusses how you can use M&Ms as a team exercise to determine which of nine "strategies" people use to get things done. And what are project managers all about? Junk food! No, wait. I meant to say, of course, getting things done.

The theory of nine strategies is from a tool called the Enneagram. At the end of the posting I provide some links to this tool. I think the important thing for PMs - and for that matter, managers of PMs - to understand, is the importance of EQ (Emotional Quotient) for project managers. I have already blogged about Anthony Mersino's excellent book on this topic and again point you in his direction for a wonderful treatment of this topic.
The point of using any of these tools is to understand the propensity your project team members will have for behaving in certain ways. The problem most left-brain thinkers have with these tools is that they dismiss them because they expect them to work like a regular tool, like a level or a hacksaw. These tools are different. Where a level shows whether your picture (or PMP Certificate!) is truly mounted properly, an Enneagram, or DiSC, or MBTI analysis illustrates the propensity for someone to act in a certain way most of the time, under most conditions. Just because it is not perfect indicator, it should not be left out of the toolbox.

Think in terms of a barometer. It does actually measure pressure, but only gives a predictor of upcoming weather. Low pressure usually means precipitation is coming but it does not guarantee it. Similarly, these tools (and I am not endorsing any one in particular) indicate the propensity for someone to - for example - be interested in a "Being Secure" strategy and will likely follow instructions carefully. This happens to be the "SIX" strategy of the Enneagram.

So, I will not (at least in this little posting about snack foods) teach you how to use the Enneagram, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), or the Moldavian Violin Technique (I made that one up). Here, I just implore you to learn about them, and consider their use at the beginning of your project, if for no other reason than to do some teambuilding and the mass consumption of cocoa butter.

Bon appetit!

Oh...the Enneagram links....

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