Monthly Archives: January 2011

The 4 Types of Thinkers

Taxonomies of types are a dime a dozen, inside and outside the HR/psych world, but this one struck me as especially helpful for organizations, especially a small business, where working together and playing to your strengths is an absolute necessity.

Your organization already has these four types of thinkers, but in most organizations the assignment of roles is hapless and inefficient. This is because a priori assumptions about the perceived value of roles are made by everyone involved with little or no attention to individual strengths and the development of a serious crafted approach to each work style.

The Four Types: (which one are you?)

The Designer
The Builder
The Librarian
The Salesman

The strengths of each of these should be obvious by the name.

The Designer excels at high-thinking design, not just of a physical or visual nature, but the creation of elegant systems to solve everyday human and business problems. The strength of the Designer is his ability to see a solution.

The Builder excels at execution. Designers are great at conception, but Builders are great at the follow-through. The Builder’s mind is happiest when engaged in on-the-ground doing toward a goal.

The Librarian excels at organization. In every field , in every business, there is a wealth of information and material that needs to be organized and stored in an accessible way. There is an art to this all its own, and the librarian intuitively takes in, organizes, and makes the system inviting to all who use it.

Finally there is the Salesman. The Salesman is the point of contact with the outside world, the clients and customers. The Salesman excels at human relations and public relations.

The real point of all this is not to add yet another taxonomy to the way people work and think, but to advocate for a real conscious evaluation of strengths and corresponding division of labor along these lines.

The issue is that most people and organizations aren’t honest about their strengths and division of labor. Most people want to be one thing or another and most organizations worship one kind or another at the expense of developing a well-rounded division of labor and a real team atmosphere.

Many who read this (a high-minded blog if there ever was one) will consider themselves Designers. And we live in a society which in some sense glorifies Designers out of proportion with their influence. So with all the aspiring designers who is left over to build, organize, and sell?

Here’s a question, what are most CEO’s?

While most founders may be Designers at heart, most CEO’s are Builders.

My point with this? Worship of Designers hurts organizations by dis-incentivizing the development of the other strengths required for a well-rounded team.

Next most people want to be the Salesman. This is because in our culture salesman-worship is right up there with designer worship. For a number of psychological/social/cultural reasons related the Salesman archetype is elevated in organizations beyond its fair share. Again, at the expense of developing a well-rounded team atmosphere.

All of this is at the expense of the Builders and the Librarians whose work suffers from a lack of respect. As that lack of respect is perpetuated through the organization’s culture the bright people who may be organizationally inclined or deliberate action oriented steer themselves away from their strengths and toward the roles they perceive as having higher value. As a result in America things are getting less and less organized, and less and less carried out and built to completion. There is a serious need to bring back the respect that these types of thinkers deserve and incentivize properly within the organization for people to move up in any of the 4 tracks, provided the person excels at what they do.

When an organization begins to define roles and respect them as distinct strengths that add to the whole rather than differences that divide the prospects for organizational growth and individual fulfillment increase exponentially.

Everybody is good at one of these ways of thinking. Find them and respect them for what they do and your organization will prosper.

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What Journalism Was

I just finished Tim Wu’s incredible new book “The Master Switch,” go read it if you care about media at all – this is the best nonfiction book I’ve read this year. When you see the structural reality of media through his eyes you will reach media enlightenment.

Which brings me to my idea today about “What Journalism Was”

Is anyone else out there wondering why news sucks and people are getting dumber and dumber about the social and political world going on around them?

Are you toying with the idea that the reporting now seems suspiciously bad and wondering “Hey is it only me that notices this, what the hell is going on? Well nobody seems to be complaining or fighting to stop it… am I just that cranky old guy who complains about the news now?”

Well… yes, but you’ve also got a point.

The reason for this phenomenon is a lack of quality in journalism, which begets a lack of public informedness, which begets more lazy journalism, which in turn lowers the public intellect devoted to the sort of thing like wondering about the quality of our journalism (the first thing to go, actually because it doesn’t appear in the eyes of management-thinkers to add anything to the product)

Quality? So what exactly does that mean?

Quality journalists are part presenter, part poet. Quality journalists are leaders of thought. They attempt to advance broader understanding of complex social issues to the educated populace by translating comprehensive understanding into lucid readable prose.

Quality journalism goes beyond mere statement of fact within the context of popular opinion, it goes to the heart of the journalist’s point of view. An original interpretation of reality is proffered, and readers are invited to take it or leave it.

OK so that last paragraph reads like a Plato’s Cave description of the Form of a Journalist but that’s exactly my point. The Platonic ideal is being forgotten. Sure we’ll fall short, but guys have you turned on TV news lately? No one is even trying. In print you do a little better with The New York Times and a few others carrying on the grand tradition, but the striving for that ideal of what journalism could be is sadly endangered. I blame Television (though credit is due to Jon Stewart for doing the absolute most with the medium).

Speaking of Plato’s Cave, in the allegory the chained man is dragged out of the cave into the sunlight to see things as they really are instead of the shadows he had previously thought them to be. The guy doing the dragging? That’s part of the missing job description for the modern journalist. Real journalists seek to enlighten a broader audience for the betterment of the populace. Lofty, I know, but worthwhile. How much of that do you see on any given night on Fox News? Did I mention I blame Television?

We need to face the facts that our journalism has become inept, not for any fault of the journalists themselves, but because of a structural flaw in our government-media relations.

The title of this article is “What Journalism Lost”

And who knows how broad an author can go with that topic. But in this case I’m going to nail it down to one very specific now-little-known position at every news organization: The Ombudsman.

I’m not all that up on ombudsman law, and I’m not the structural genius Tim Wu is at figuring out how the ombudsman was marginalized in modern news industry (Tim, if you’re out there man maybe that could be your next book, hit me up at CultureWharf@gmail.com we’ll cowrite) but every news outlet is supposed to have one and they’re supposed to be an independent citizen agent for news quality control. Unlike today they are supposed to actually do stuff and matter.

Old newspapers used to subscribe much more to the aforementioned Platonic ideals of public interest, but as news became more corporate and more televised and more about the business of delivering juicy audiences to advertisers those ideals got left behind.

How could the lone ombudsman compete with that?

News, with all its potential conflicts and power to influence, is like its own branch of government. It was once proudly called “The Fourth Estate.”

News without an ombudsman is like a legislative branch without an executive and judicial. A police force without internal affairs. Unchecked powers.

What would happen if we radically empowered the ombudsman?

Only for the web-savvy idealists in the group:

I’ve done a lot of searching on this topic and can find very little information about the role of ombudsman or much related to the marginalization of ombudsmen. I figure that means I can crack into the search results in this area with a few good links, below is a little of what I’ve found but if anyone has any ideas on how to make this article a higher match for searching any combination of the terms Newspaper Ombudsman Marginalized I could really use the tech help. Thanks.

http://www.editorsweblog.org/newsrooms_and_journalism/2008/09/us_newspapers_dropping_ombudsmen_left_an.php
http://thephoenix.com/BLOGS/medialog/archive/2005/07/21/The-Globe-s-New-Ombuddy.aspx
http://scrippsiij.blogspot.com/2010/07/what-is-newspaper-ombudsman.html
http://www.newsombudsmen.org/jacoby.html

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