The three sceptics sit, as sceptics tend to do, together. And as Bernard Cooke, a consultant at occupational psychology firm OPP, goes around the room asking each member of the group what they expect to get out of the day, the sceptics cross their arms, lean back in their chairs, and prepare to share their doubts about the value of business psychology and psychometrics.
"I'm very cynical about the idea of identifying personality types and preferences," says the first. "Why do we need to do it? I worry that it might cause us to pigeon-hole people."
His co-conspirators add their concerns. The group of 15 Personnel Today journalists had completed a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) questionnaire a fortnight previously, and Cooke is visiting our office to share the results, both from a personal and team perspective.
Cooke listens patiently to our hopes and fears, before explaining the scope and limitations of MBTI as a management and teambuilding tool. From a team perspective, MBTI should help us:
understand more about preferred working styles and identify how to develop these to be more effective.
increase awareness of the team's working style and thus improve communication, problem-solving and decision-making, encourage appreciation of diversity and resolve conflict.
understand why people react differently to change and how to support them though the process.
help people understand how to communicate effectively with different people and develop influencing and persuading skills.
MBTI is different to many psychometric tools, believes Cooke, in that all differences are described positively - there is no desirable type, and no measurement of individuals against percentiles. "MBTI is never used for selection - just development," he says.
What's your preference?
MBTI is based on people's preferences. "Preferences, like whether we are right- or left-handed, are innate," argues Cooke. "We can adapt if we have to, but we gravitate towards our hard-wired preferences."
The MBTI preferences are: Extraversion/Introversion Sensing/iNtuition Thinking/Feeling and Judgement/Percepti