The ‘Impact Measurement Personality Type’ - Results
Last month I posted a blog asking whether or not there is such a thing as an impact measurement personality type. I had started to suspect that some people simply prefer focusing on the measurement of impact, while others are happier focusing on planning it, communicating it, improving it and of course delivering it. I also wondered whether these preferences had any link with people’s deeper personality types, as demonstrated for example by the Myers Briggs Type Index.
To test this idea I invited readers to answer two questions through an online survey. Many hundreds of people read the blog and 90 took a few minutes to answer the survey.
Question 1. Which of these statements best captures your own view about impact measurement?
A. When planning to achieve an impact we should always be able to measure it - and if we can't we should change or get rid of the planned impact
B. When planning to achieve an impact, the most important thing is that it is the right impact, but it's also helpful if we can measure it
C. When planning to achieve an impact, we shouldn't worry at all about whether it could be measured
90% voted for B. 9% voted for A. 1% voted for C. In other words, about 1 in 10 people think that measurement is so important it should lead to us changing our plans. This feels about right – on every training course I run, there are usually 1 or 2 people out of 16 who are stressed by the idea that measurement is not the most important thing that organisational leaders need to do with impact.
While this was only a snap survey, the fact the 90% believed impact measurement should be subservient to impact planning, not the other way around, is something I find heartening.
Question 2. What is your Myers-Briggs preference type?
I showed the respondents how to work this out if they didn’t know. As you may know, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has four elements, each with two alternative types:
• Extravert (E) / Introvert (I) – What gives you more energy
• INtuitive (N) / Sensing (S) – How you tend to gather information about the world
• Feeling (F) / Thinking (T) – How you prefer to make decisions
• Judging (J) / Perceiving (P) – How you like to organise the world
Each person’s type is represented by a combination of four letters. I am an ENFP. There’s nothing good or bad about that or about any other combination. The types are not what you want to be. They are our preferred ways of approaching things, like our default positions. We aren’t limited by these (a ‘J’ can act like a ‘P’ sometimes). But being aware of these defaults – in ourselves and amongst our colleagues – can help us better manage workplace relationships.
What were the results? Well, the first thing to say is that our sample (of 86) was really very balanced on three out of the four elements, but quite unbalanced on the N-S distinction:
• 51% were E and 49% were I
• 78% were N and 22% were S
• 51% were F and 49% were T
• 53% were J and 47% were P
This leads to the interesting suggestion that more people in our sector use Intuition (N) to interpret the world, that is, they make interpretations, look for patterns and meaning; and there are fewer people who rely on Sensing (S) to gather information, that is, the information they gather through their five senses, a focus on facts, and the bottom line. Of course, we’d need to compare this with results from other sectors to test this idea.
So is there an Impact Measurement Personality Type?
I mapped these Myers-Briggs results onto the 1 in 10 who would allow measurement to dominate planning. The huge caveat here must be that this was now a tiny sample (7 people who voted for statement ‘A’ and completed the MBTI question) so drawing any conclusions at all would be quite silly. But if you’re curious, those who would allow the measurement of impact to dominate planning are disproportionately Extroverts and Thinkers.
71% of those who voted for statement A were Extroverts, compared with 49% of those who voted for statement B. Extroverts prefer to focus on the outer world and gain more energy being around other people, as opposed to Introverts who gain more energy from focusing inwards. Perhaps these extraverts care more about external demands for metrics, from funders or government?
71% of those who voted for statement A were Thinkers, compared with 46% of those who voted for statement B. Thinkers prefer to make decisions based on logic and consistency as opposed to Feelers who tend to be more comfortable making decisions based on values and the people involved. Perhaps those with a preference for logic are more comfortable with measurement data?
What can I conclude from this short foray into personality types and impact measurement? First, obviously, more data would help! If you’ve not taken the survey yet, please do. It’ll also help you find out your Myers-Briggs type, if you don’t already know it.
Second, it seems that the vast majority of people, from this snap survey, do not believe the need to measure impact is more important than the need to plan it, deliver it, improve it and communicate it. This is, I think, very positive.
Thirdly, I conclude that we could spend a lot of time trying to research such issues! What really matters, I think, is robust debate about how we want ‘impact’ to be used in our sector, and at the same time sensitivity towards people’s differences around this issue.
To learn more about NCVO’s full approach to impact leadership, beyond measurement, have a look at our website or come along to our next training course.
To get the full results of the survey, you need to take it yourself. Those who’ve taken it will receive the full results by e-mail (if they requested it).
There is a very short article by Amber Smith giving some evidence that people who want to make the world a better place are disproportionately ENFJ’s. However I’ve not yet found any large-scale research on MBTI results across the sectors so would be grateful if anyone can point me in the right direction.
And here’s an interesting blog by Brad Rourke on Ps and Js in the ‘non-profit’ workplace and how leaders can use this to better manage relationships.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Myers-Briggs, and MBTI are trademarks or registered trademarks of the MBTI® Trust, Inc., in the United States and other countries.
Richard Piper, NCVO’s impact expert
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Richard Piper writes about impact, strategy, leadership and change. He's the CEO at Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity.