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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