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How Hard Can It Be? Complex consultant speak or elegant simplicity for workplace profiling?

Elegant simplicity beats complexity every time for lasting insight from profiling tools and reports

When selecting workplace behavioural or personality testing for individuals and teams it can be quite a confusing forest of models, graphs and theories.

Some may actually do more harm than good if they are confusing people with too much complexity and ‘consultant speak’.

We feel that elegant simplicity beats complexity every time when it comes to using a suitable model or tool that will actually stick with people. Making things simpler for busy people should not have to mean ‘simplistic’.

In over 30 years of team and leadership development we have been exposed to most of the popular, and emerging models and tools, and so feel safe to share our experiences and opinions.

If a model requires a ‘Master Yoda’ presenter on a pedestal to explain an overly complex tool in 130 Powerpoint slides, then the chances of people actually taking it up and using it diminishes greatly.

Overly complex tools may create a ‘consultant’s feast’ of follow up that become an unnecessary expense. When a more pragmatic and easily used tool has been selected, people can be ‘taught to fish’ to use that old maxim, and may even run their own follow up sessions.

A good tool should teach people and teams ‘to fish’ not just set up the provider to sell them ‘1000 more fish’.

Albert Einstein also put it well when he said that:

“The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”

In our experience the model and profiling tools of Meredith Belbin put him well and truly into the genius category.

The decades of ongoing research, norming and field testing of Belbin’s behavioural Team Role Model have certainly been sophisticated at depth, but he and his team have then made the profiles and tools themselves approachable and very easy to use.

The elegant simplicity of a Belbin profile to complete, interpret and use conceals the great complexity and thinking that has gone into the tool and software than underpins it. Great depth underpins its accuracy, but the outputs are approachable.

Belbin has put the psychologist into the report, instead of needing to burden individuals and teams with layers of language and complexity not required by people quite likely to be working at capacity already.

A Belbin profile offers immediate and easy to understand insight that transfers rapidly to the context or real teams and real day to day working relationships.

People quickly understand their behavioural impact, and that of their team mates. Importantly they are also in possession of practical advice on how best to manage this at work.

If a tool takes hours to explain, and many follow-up sessions to interpret and offer feedback, then how useful will it actually be for real working people and teams?

This is one of the many reasons our business moved away from the use of so many other complex tools and approaches, that even if they were valid, made it too hard to apply in the real world.

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