Identifying the High Performers
by Pat Craig 

From the Winter 1998 issue of the Complexity Management Chronicles 

We recently discovered a theory of personality types, the Enneagram, that we think can help project managers find just the right people to create high performance teams. Don R. Riso with Russ Hudson wrote a terrific book on the subject, Personality Types - Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery.

Our spring 1995 newsletter discussed another personality system, The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator. Although the Myers-Briggs is valuable, we believe the Enneagram offers richer insights. Also, the Enneagram is easier to use.

According to the Enneagram, each personality type is prone to one overriding sin. For example, the type 1's sin is anger. In the list which follows, we list each of the nine personality types with its sign right beside it: 1) Anger; 2) Pride; 3) Deceit; 4) Envy; 5) Avarice; 6) Fear; 7) Gluttony; 8) Lust; and 9) Sloth. 

How can you determine your personality type or those of others? Read the Riso-Hudson book. Theshort titles in the diagram below and knowing someone's "sin" are also excellent ways to rapidly determine someone's personality type

Ennea means nine in Greek, so the Enneagram is nine-point diagram. Note that the diagram has nine onts that touch the edgeof the circle with titles off each point. The very top of the circle starts with the number 9. Then you read down and around just as you would when reading a clock.

Sub-Types and Wings:
Most people "inherit" personality traits from one of the neighboring points on the Enneagram circle. The neighboring numbers, the personality's "wings," are abbreviated as a "w" on the diagram below. For example, someone who is a personality type 4, can take on aspects of either the personality type 3 or the personality type 5. Therefore, they would be a personality type 4 with a 3 wing, called "the Aristocrat," or a personality type 3 with a 5 wing, called "the Bohemian." These finer dinstinctions in personality types lead to the 18 sub-types listed on the diagram.


The Ideal Software Developer:
People possessing a personality type 5, either Iconoclasts or Problem Solvers, make the best developers. Also, extremely good developers are those people who have a 5 wing, the Defender (a type 6) and the Bohemian (a type 4). (This Bohemian group is why many developers seem just a bit wierd)

Good Software Managers:
People possessing a personality type 8, either Mavericks or Bears, make good managers. People possessing a personality type 1 with a 2 wing, an Advocate, can also be good software managers. Finally, people possessing type 3 with a 4 wing, a Professional, can be tremendous at motivating staff. Remember, the Professional's "sin" is deceit.

The Ideal Software Tester:
Someone possessing personality type 2 with a 1 wing, the Servant, makes a tremendous support person. We prefer the short title of "Good Soldier" for this personality type. The two best testers we have ever worked with have this personality type.

Good Team Players:
Every team needs a personality type 6 with a 7 wing, a Buddy. Buddy types do an outstanding job fostering team spirit.

Space does not allow us to provide more than the briefest of introductions to this important theory. Please refer to the Riso-Hudson book for a well-written discussion of the topic. By utilizing the Enneagram to select staff, you should become more successsful at building high performance teams.

©Complexity Management 1998 
Somerville, Massachusetts
Located in Metropolitan Boston


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