Human Metrics – How We Differ

(This essay was published originally in April, 2002)

Many of you read this column to learn more about events and people at Finisar, and it is my goal to accommodate your wishes for this information. So today, I report to you on a recent management meeting at Finisar that produced some interesting results for the company, and fascinating personal insights for me individually.

In order to put this into the proper perspective, please click here to read some background material on what we were trying to accomplish when we gathered together about 30 people from Finisar’s leadership for a team building exercise. The tool we used was a personality test based on the work of Swiss psychologist and philosopher Carl Gustav Jung, a colleague of pioneering Austro-Hungarian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.

It may be more illuminating for you if you take this test yourself before reading further. This will enable you to compare yourself to some of the people here at Finisar. If you’d like to do that, please click here, then press the button that says “Do It”. This should take less than ten minutes of your time.

After you get the results, I encourage you to click on the additional links provided below to read more about your predicted personality type.

If you’re intrigued by this analysis, there is an opportunity on the same Web site to take additional tests about your suitability as an entrepreneur as well as your compatibility with a marriage partner. (Note – The first test is free, but the last two tests require a small fee charged by the people who run the site. No portion of the fee goes to Finisar or to me; moreover, I am not certain at all of the overall validity of these tests.)

To visit one additional site that provides even more details more about the Jung/Myers-Briggs personality types and relationships, please click here.

Success Takes All Kinds
The first time I completed the personality test, my score indicated that I was an ENTP. One day later, I took a similar test and it analyzed me as an INFP. So, I went from a thinking extravert to a feeling introvert in just 24 hours. From what I have read, it is not unusual to get a different type rating on successive tests. Answering just one question differently can swing your score the other way. Perhaps you’ll have the same experience if you take the test more than once.

Eighteen people in our management group at Finisar scored as ESTJ. According to the literature, this means they are extroverts, view the world through their senses (realists), like to use data and facts to reach conclusions and are inclined to judge. Eight people in our group were ENTx and one person (our HR manager) was an ENFP. So now you have some insight into some of the leaders here at Finisar.

As it turns out, it is common for successful high-tech companies to have many people with ESTJ personalities. This type of thinking pattern is required to accomplish difficult technical projects, on time and with all of the goals met. So you see, we have a boatload of people at Finisar with the right stuff.

Interestingly enough, technology companies also need some ENTx behavior types because these folks are more likely to be successful entrepreneurs. You have to be careful about having too many ENTx types, however, or chaos can result and nothing will get done. These people are less schedule-oriented and more likely to postpone decisions. They often make leaps of faith based on sparse amounts of information. But sometimes this is what it takes to get a business started.

Every company needs people who understand how things work in social communities: someone who understands people’s feelings and how relationships work. The head of HR at Finisar fits this description perfectly, thank goodness.

Behavior classifications provide a way to look at other people and understand how they are different. At some level, I believe that everyone is egocentric and this leads us to perceive that everyone thinks and behaves like we do. But this is nothing more than a convenient mental illusion. We are different and this is what makes our world so interesting.

If you have the time to get together with a few friends, family members or colleagues and take the tests referenced above, you can prove that people are very different. Unresolved personality differences can cause arguments and misunderstandings, and as you come to understand this, you can better understand the relationships in your private life as well as those within your company. You can also gain important insights into the richness and value of the cultural and behavioral tapestry that makes up our world.

Applying These Theories at Home
In addition to corporate team building, there are deeply personal ways to benefit from these analytical tests. Here are a few books on personality types, relationships and self-awareness that might interest you (once again, none of the proceeds go to Finisar or to me and it is quite possible that they may lull you into a deep sleep!).

Personality tests may be an accurate measure of past behavior, but they certainly are not to be the final word on how we act and interact going forward.

Does your present behavior conform to the way you want to live and present yourself to the world? Are there decisions you make or things you do repeatedly that you would like to change?

I am convinced that one reason my score moved from ENTP on the first day to INFP on the second day was that I spent some time thinking about how I was living my life. Many times it is likely that our current behavior may be less than desirable for those close to us, like our families. Behavior is something we can change. For me this began with some mental adjustments and those were reflected in answers on the second test.

Jung believed that everyone is part extravert and part introvert. However, most people in modern society (roughly 75 percent) are more inclined towards extraversion than introversion.

Extraverts gain energy from spending time with groups of people. In my case, I can be extravert, but there are also times when it is important to be alone to reflect and re-energize. Since 1999, when Finisar went public, there have been increasingly fewer of these moments.

Each time i have moved to a new home. I have looked carefully at the design and features the perspective home includes. One desirable feature that came up repeatedly was a generous quiet space. When the home is designed from scratch, I took extra care in the design of the first floor and especially our study. The result was a quiet room with computers and comfortable reading chairs, good lighting and warmth. We moved the only television to its own place and then insulated that room for sound isolation so that our main living space now has no TV to make noise or dominate the interactions of our family. These space changes have made it easier for us to relax and for us to recharge our mental batteries.

Thinking about the different test scores of the two different test scores, it seems possible that the manner in which we spend our time has a lot to say about our behavior and the way our personality is perceived by others. We hope our new quiet space will effect such a change.

Fair Warning and Disclaimer
I am not trained in psychology, and I’m far from being an expert on the Jung/Myers-Briggs personality tests described above, so please consider the opinions expressed in this column as those of an optical networking scientist, not a psychologist. At the same time, please explore a few of the links provided so that you might be able to learn something new about yourself and perhaps have some fun with your family and co-workers.

Posted in Personal Stories

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