This book represents three very ambitious efforts. One, it argues for a new management paradigm that builds from the psychological make-up of each person in the workplace to create the most effective combination of people and tasks. Two, the book presents a new psychological mapping scheme to capture those areas where a person will display "consistent near perfect performance in an activity." Three, the book connects you to a self-diagnosis tool that you can use on-line to see yourself in the perspective of the new mapping scheme. Most books would settle for pursing just one these goals. My hat is off to the authors for their ambition!
The concept of building companies around "desirable" pyschological profiles has been in application for some time. The Walt Disney organization uses this approach to locate people who will enjoy working in their company, and to match the person to the task they will be most focused on. More and more companies are experimenting with this approach. The evidence is that it works.
So the first argument simply takes that experience one step further by formalizing it a bit. The book has many persuasive examples of how people usually do not have jobs that use their best talents. This provides another perspective on the Peter Principle. So far so good.
Next, 34 patterns of mental habits are described based on millions of interviews over 25 years. These include achiever, activator, adaptability, analytical, arranger, belief, command, communication, competition, connectedness, context, deliberative, developer, discipline, empathy, fairness, focus, futuristic, harmony, ideation, inclusiveness, individualization, input, intellection, learner, maximizer, positivity, relator, responsibility, restorative, self-assurance, significance, strategic, and woo. You need to see the descriptions to understand what these patterns reflect.
The argument is that these labels capture patterns of thinking habits that condition behavior in any situation. I find it difficult to relate to all of the patterns because there are so many. Also, without knowing what patterns work well in a particular job, I wasn't sure how relevant they are. Connection of patterns to success needs to be shown as cause and effect in a given company before this will be totally useful.
Small companies may not be able to use this tool very well because they will never have enough people doing the same task to figure out which profile is best. Everyone working in that role may have a very inappropriate profile. You will just be picking the best of a poorly-fitting lot if you select around one of them.
Then, I took the personality test on-line. There were no surprises there for me in my top 5 patterns. I also suspect that there would be no surprises for you in putting me into these categories. You would probably have pegged me as an achiever, learner, relator, focus, input person from the fact that I read so many nonfiction books, write so many book reviews, and keep books and notes everywhere (just in case I might need them again). On the relator front, if you had noticed who I like to work with and how I work with them, you would have spotted me in a few days.
However, my actual job competence is a lot different from this. Most clients tell me that they find me most helpful to them when exposing them to new perspectives on their work that allow them to make faster progress. So, I was left wondering if the tool is strong enough to do the task of making people most effective in their work without more help. Someone might develop or be born with a great talent that has little to do with the psychological profile of how she or he likes to spend their time.
To state the opposite proposition to the ones in the book, complexity science would suggest that it is a mistake to overly organize the workplace in any way. You should have as much diversity as possible. When we leave lots of room for open space and time, people will self-organize outstanding solutions. Having people focused on tasks they love might make them less aware of what else needs to be done. Behavioral scientists would argue that learning continues throughout life, and that major new habits can be formed at any time. Old dogs can learn new tricks. Why cannot new psychological mindsets be learned as well. I suspect that they can. These kinds of counter-observations were not addressed in the book, and it would have been helpful to me if they had been.
So while I was impressed by the concept that the "great organization must not only accommodate the fact each is different; it must capitalize on these differences," I wasn't sure that the authors have the best method to get there yet.
I do recommend that you read the book and consider its messages. I suspect that its application will work best in focusing people on tasks that require great persistence and consistency in order to be effective. I am less clear on how well it will work to help people accomplish more in creative tasks. Time will tell.
I suggest that you take the test and discuss your results with someone else who has also taken the test. Ask each other what insights you got from your own results and from hearing the other person's results. That discussion should start to help you imagine ways to use these insights more effectively.
May you always "derive intrinsic satisfaction" from the activities you do!