TIPS Preferences 2

How do you prefer to think, work, interact and live? (Part 2)

Do you know how you — and everyone else on your team — really tick? In our increasingly complex and dynamic business environment, self- and team-awareness are more important than ever to use the talents and strengths of a team. For that reason, I have developed a ‘people’-oriented innovation profiling system called TIPS. TIPS is based on the idea that people have one or two of four basic orientations: theories and knowledge (T); ideas (I); people (P); and systems and processes (S).

Combinations of these orientations define 11 innovator profiles, and there are four other preferences that explain how people prefer to think, work, interact and live. In the last column, we looked at differences in how people prefer to think (Figure vs. Fantasy) and work (Brain vs. Brawn). Today we discuss the two remaining preferences that explain how you and others interact and live.

How do you prefer to interact?

People communicate with others in different ways, and also make decisions differently. The third TIPS preference, called Fact vs. Feeling, illuminates those differences. It explains why some people cannot communicate well. This preference is adapted from some elements of the psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types.

People at the Fact extreme of this preference prefer a more factual, objective, and distant style in their interactions, whereas those at the Feeling extreme listen to their heart and interact in emotional, intuitive, and empathic ways. As with all of these preferences, some people balance these extremes, and draw on, flexibly shift between, and combine the two disparate styles of interaction.

Both fact-based and feeling-based people produce results by relying on their intelligence, albeit in different ways: fact-based people pride themselves on having a well-developed logical intelligence (IQ), while feeling-based people have better-developed emotional intelligence (EQ). When working on projects, “thinkers” rationally look at and argue based on facts and evidence, while “feelers” consider how projects affect stakeholder groups, and make passionate pleas for considering the needs of others. Unsurprisingly, these two very different interaction styles often make very different decisions: “thinkers” logically deduce or compute the “rational choice”, while “feelers” tend to go with their gut.

It’s interesting to note is that “thinkers” tend to be “lone wolves” who prefer to think and work by themselves, while “feelers” tend to be “joiners” who love to be around and work with others. Those people who combine Fact and Feeling are usually flexible loner-joiners who decide when they need space and solitude for thinking and when they need stimulation from, and interactions with, other members of the team.

Questions: How about you? Do you prefer to interact with others and produce results by looking objectively at the facts and relying on your intellect (head over heart)? Or do you thrive on social interactions and produce results by trusting your gut and your high EQ (heart over head)? Or are you a case of head meets heart, i.e., you interact with others with both rationality and empathy, and look at things with both logic and intuition?

How do you prefer to live in the world?

The fourth and final TIPS preference is arguably the most important in both individual and organizational innovation. This construct adapts elements of two earlier psychometric concepts: Michael Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation theory, and Isabel Myers Briggs’ extension of Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types. This fourth TIPS preference, called Form vs. Flow, shows whether you prefer to live in a highly structured, well-organized world  that focuses on preserving the status quo and the established order(Form), or prefer things to be more fluid, flexibly changing and steadily evolving (Flow).

Form vs. Flow explains the differences in people’s innovation styles. If you are a form-person, you generally dislike change and prefer that things remain, in essence, the same. You’re satisfied with making things incrementally better and fixing things and processes that don’t work well. You focus on efficiency. In other words, in the terminology of Kirton’s Adoption-Innovation theory, you are an adaptor. In contrast, if you are a flow-person, you are an innovator who is able to tolerate or even enjoys driving change. You push for evolutionary or even revolutionary ideas that are radical game-changer thanks to your high creative energy and drive.

Form-people prefer to work and live in stable institutions with an established order and control and a clear hierarchy, while flow-people value individual freedom and are highly individualized, even if this means that they have to tolerate more uncertainty and to take higher risks — both of which they feel comfortable with. Form-people are risk avoiders with a very low tolerance for uncertainty. Because they are rooted in the past and value traditions and heritage, form-people are loyal to the institutions that they associate with, and to the established societal order. In contrast, flow-people look forward to the future and stay loyal to their personal beliefs and values and the causes that they choose to pursue. Form vs. Flow also explains the different frequencies that people operate at work: flow-people usually think and talk at a fast pace and work in leaps and bursts, while form-people prefer to think and work at a more moderate, yet steady pace.

Questions: Are you a person who likes stability and essentially likes things to stay the same? Or do you prefer to creatively drive change and enjoy variety and freedom? Or do you enjoy stability when it’s blended with occasional doses of excitement, creativity and change?


© Dr. Detlef Reis 2013
This article was published in parallel in the Bangkok Post under the same title on December 25 2013.