#189 from R&D
Innovator Volume 4, Number 12
Agor is professor of public management at the University of Texas,
El Paso. Heís the author of Intuition
in Organizations (Sage Publications, Newbury Park, CA, 1989).
To learn more about Dr. Agorís assessment instrument
mentioned in this article, fax him at (915) 747-5400.
frequently challenged to make major changes. Such changes can include downsizing, altering strategies, or
integrating after a merger or acquisition.
These changes must therefore be carefully considered.
decisions are made solely by the chief executive, perhaps after
consulting with other high-level executives.
Will the others merely approve their boss's ideas without
aggressive analysis? In
other cases, consultants are invited to look over the situation
and make recommendations. But, in their cursory analysis, will they really understand
the dynamics and needs of the organization?
organizations to consider using their
own resources to make these difficult changes, and to use a
process called Brain Skill Management.
This program's foremost principle is that the
decision-making process be designed, implemented, and evaluated by
a team selected first and foremost by brain skills. The assignment must be made
without regard to hierarchical status, responsibility for the
change, or seniority level. This
approach will successfully break through such traditional
organizational obstacles as "group-think" or
A Brain Skill
Management program consists of three major components: diagnostic
testing, custom placement, and training in brain-skill
testing should be used at
the very beginning of the process that will lead to change.
Such testing can be used to increase productivity in a
variety of ways. For
example, testing can be used to design management teams that are
more likely to work effectively together.
Testing can also
be used to locate personnel who are most skilled at developing new
and innovative ways of making an organization more effective.
At the same time, testing can be employed to find those who
have the greatest ability to critically evaluate the proposed
ideas of others in detail, as well as the talent to successfully
guide changes at the implementation stage of the process.
rarely make use of diagnostic testing and the information it can
provide. All they
usually know about their employees is their formal job title,
responsibilities, and years of experience.
Seldom do they know which brain skills people possess that
can be used in the process of a major change.
There are several assessment instruments that can be used.
The Myers-Briggs Type indicator is, perhaps, the most
instrument measures a personís brain-skill preferences along
eight dimensions. Another
is the Kiersey Temperament Sorter.
A third is my Agor Intuition Managed Survey.
These are but a few examples of a wide variety of
instruments which have a high level of reliability and validity.
You can learn more about them by checking with a university
department of psychology.
based on brain-skill assessments can enhance the design and
implementation of any proposed change in several ways.
One way is to divide personnel according to the stage of
the change where their brain skills will be most useful (See Table
I). Broadly speaking,
personnel tend to divide into two types:
Intuitive and Cognitive (See Table II).
Is conciliatory and
Those who score
as highly intuitive are the most innovative and creative pool of
talent in the organization. They
would be best grouped at the beginning of the change process and
assigned such tasks as creating new and more productive ways to
achieve the organization's goals.
When grouped together, these executives can make
synergistic breakthroughs--because intuitive managers tend to use
thinking styles that other "like types" are comfortable
working with (See Table III).
Good at generating new ideas
Once a proposed
change has been identified and developed by the intuitive group,
cognitive managers would be best assigned the task of evaluating
it. These people are
most skilled at detailed analysis and evaluation.
They're capable of identifying missing links in a proposed
plan of action and in implementing a program plan once agreed
Once an overall
program to implement the change has been proposed and evaluated,
step three is to bring the intuitive and cognitive groups back
together to discuss and refine the final product.
At this stage, custom placement based on testing can once
again be useful. For
example, it's critical to select a leader who is skilled at
facilitating effective interaction between the different styles
that exist within the two groups. A skilled facilitator can help make each member feel
ownership in the final product, which enhances the probability of
successful implementation. One
test to help select such a leader is The
FIRO Scales by Will Schutz.
component in Brain Skill Management is training in brain-skill
development. A number
of tools and techniques can help the executive become a more
capable decision maker. For
example, mind-mapping and modified-Delphi can be used to free up
the creative side of the brain in order to think up new and
different ways of solving a particular problem.
These methods can help break habitual ways of thinking so
that other possible solutions and relationships will be seen, or
so that emerging trends which might bear on a particular issue
will be accurately perceived.
You can learn more about these techniques by reading
Robbins and DeCenzoís Fundamentals
of Management (Prentice-Hall, 1995).
Employing a Brain
Skill Management program to develop and guide your changes means
you will have to be committed on a day-to-day basis to creating an
atmosphere in which innovation is encouraged.
This means being willing to organize groups and meetings in
a somewhat less traditional manner, and dropping old management
practices when they don't serve any productive purpose.
members have varied experiences, temperaments, interests, and
through Brain Skill Management, you find out what these are, you
will have an important advantage in maximizing the benefits of
Finally, it's important to note that the true leader is one who can combine both intuitive and cognitive styles effectively. He or she does this as an individual and, as a manager , using to best advantage others who are especially intuitive or cognitive. Such a person is truly a rare find--as well as one most likely to make any change succeed.