Unlocking Team Potential: The Power of Using Meta Programme Analysis In Team Development 

Unlocking Team Potential: The Power of Using Meta Programme Analysis In Team Development 


In the current business landscape, teamwork has emerged as one of the most acute factors in achieving success. Teams with diverse skills and perspectives often outshine individuals who work alone. However, unlocking a team’s full potential requires a deep understanding of the individual thinking styles of individual members. By having this awareness, leaders can leverage the strengths of each member and overcome any weaknesses, leading to better decision-making, higher productivity, and superior results.

Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) has been widely used in business for quite some time now and has proven to be a valuable tool for development. With the rise of technology and innovation, various NLP tools are available to practitioners to help them facilitate individuals or teams to achieve their desired outcomes. One such tool that is underutilized in NLP is ‘Metaprogrammes’ or thinking styles.

Many professionals still prefer using personality assessment tools that tend to categorize individuals into only four descriptors or points and provide an overview. This approach can be too restrictive and usually does not consider the complexity of an individual’s thought process in different contexts. Metaprogramme analysis fills this void. 

In NLP, we learn about the importance of modeling behavior. One key aspect is understanding our values, beliefs, thought processes, and perceptions in different situations. By examining our metaprogrammes, we can analyze and uncover the underlying cognitive diversity that influences how we think and behave in particular contexts. I have met many NLPers who don’t understand the power of metaprogrammes, and to be honest, I was one of them. 

Identifying and applying metaprogrammes unique to each individual requires active listening and observation of verbal and nonverbal cues. There are online tools available to assist in this process. By understanding cognitive styles, practitioners can help individuals achieve peak performance. Unfortunately, many people tend to oversimplify metaprogramme applications and ignore the dynamic nature of their context-specific use.

Understanding Metaprogramme Patterns:

Using metaprogramme analysis helps individuals obtain a deeper understanding of their cognitive preferences, values, and motivations. With insights into problem-solving, decision-making, and interpersonal interactions, thinking patterns empower individuals to unlock their full potential and achieve their goals.

One of the significant advantages of utilizing metaprogrammes for team development is that they enable organizations to gain valuable insights into the collective mindset of their teams. By analyzing the collective metaprogrammes, teams can identify their strengths and weaknesses and devise strategies to enhance team dynamics and communication.

When working with teams, avoiding technical terms like ‘metaprogrammes’ is a good idea, which can be unclear for some people. Instead, using more familiar terms like ‘thinking patterns’ or ‘cognitive styles’ when referring to the same concept is better. This helps to ensure that everyone on the team is on the same page and can understand the discussion without feeling left out particularly when explaining no one pattern is better than another but all are required with teams at different points. 

The Power of Thinking Styles in Team Development is:

1. Enhanced Communication:
People with varying thinking styles may have distinct ways of interpreting information, which could lead to misunderstandings and hinder collaboration. By recognizing and appreciating these differences, teams can develop more effective communication strategies that cater to the unique needs of each individual. 

2. Improved Problem-Solving:
By bringing together individuals with different cognitive approaches, teams can tap into various perspectives to analyse challenges and develop innovative solutions. Thinking patterns help teams leverage diversity to solve problems effectively and better understand strengths and weaknesses in different situations.

3. Increased Adaptability:
By recognizing each team member’s unique preferences and strengths, leaders can allocate tasks and responsibilities within their teams that best match their abilities. This approach also builds trust and respect, fostering a supportive work environment. 

4. Conflict Resolution:
Recognizing that different team members may have unique approaches to handling conflicts and acknowledging these differences allows for strategies that cater to individual preferences to be developed. 

5. Strategic Planning:
By analyzing team members’ cognitive preferences and thinking styles, leaders can gain valuable insights into their team. This information can then align tasks and responsibilities with individuals with the most relevant cognitive strengths, improving the team’s role satisfaction and overall performance. 

6. Team Cohesion and Trust:
Thinking patterns provide insight into how individuals perceive the world, including their values, beliefs, and motivations. When team members trust and respect each other’s thinking styles, they are more likely to work together effectively. 

7. Skill Gap Identification and Strategic Recruitment:
Integrating thinking patterns into the recruitment process enables the creation of targeted job profiles and the assessment of candidates based on the team’s requirements, ensuring new starters are a better fit for the team and addressing skill gaps more effectively. 

8. Communicating with impact
Every word we use has the power to either uplift or harm people. By understanding the communication style of our team, we can leverage language to guide them towards positive change or adaptation. By understanding and working with each team member, the leader speaks and acts for the entire team’s benefit.

How We Do This: 
Enhancing team performance encompasses three elements providing:  

  • Decoding and giving feedback to individuals. 
  • Conducting a Team Day- to enable team members to decode each other.  
  • Devising a coach in the room profile. 

Providing individuals with one-on-one coaching and feedback on their metaprogrammes helps them share their thoughts, opinions, and perceptions. This feedback allows them to understand themselves better so they can understand others. Accurate analysis of metaprogrammes allows individuals to identify their weaknesses and areas for growth, which enables them to form strategies to improve their skills.

Conducting a Team Day

By prioritizing understanding of others, team members develop a better understanding of each other. 

During the Team Day, everyone works through a personalized booklet that contains relevant information and exercises related to their work. Each team member has a quick reference guide to access the various thinking patterns and their definitions easily.

The facilitator, will guide the team through the booklet, providing insights on approaching and communicating with others to motivate and inspire them. 

During the session, individual criteria or values are explained, each metaprogramme  and groups of metaprogrammes are explained and described in body language and verbal language giving the impact of each.  Specific exercises are undertaken as a group to deepen the team’s understanding. 

Cooperation is gently enhanced by understanding team members’ cognitive styles. For example, a manager and a colleague may have different thinking styles. Still, they can find ways to complement each other by acknowledging and appreciating their differences in communication and motivation. They can then discover their combined perspectives are more effective.

Individual team profiles are displayed in the room. These are usually anonymized to help the team focus on the profile rather than the individual. The primary task of each participant is to comment on each poster regarding the profile’s strengths, areas for improvement, how that profile can help them grow, and potential frictions and irritations they may have with these profiles. 

The day also includes activities to understand the department’s behaviors and the customer’s needs. 

Outcomes for the participants for the day:

1. Understand my purpose and why I do what I do: 
This will help participants understand how their work aligns with their values and purpose.

2. Understand the impact of our department and company on our customers and consumers: 
This will help participants understand how to improve processes and deliver better results.

3. Understand what motivates me and how I communicate: 
This will aid participants in gaining a deeper understanding of themselves and how to communicate effectively with colleagues and customers.

4. Identify potential areas of conflict and learn how to prevent them from arising:
This will enhance team collaboration and productivity.

5. Learn how to transform conflicts into opportunities for growth and support: 
This will foster stronger relationships with colleagues and customers, creating a more positive work environment.

6. Network with other individuals: 
This helps participants broaden their understanding of the industry and develop innovative approaches to their work.

Devising Coach in the Room poster 

The team are left with two posters: one showcases the team’s collective thinking patterns, and the other is a coach-in-the-room poster. 

The coach-in-the-room poster highlights the team’s weaknesses( although the better term is blind spot). When they come together, they can refer to the poster to remind themselves to ask the questions they might not usually ask.

The ongoing benefits of the day and the posters are:

1. Enhanced Understanding:

Team members can gain a deeper understanding of their own and their colleagues’ cognitive patterns. This awareness can lead to better communication and collaboration, as team members can adapt their communication styles to align with the preferences of others.

2. Improved Questioning Skills:

Understanding metaprograms enables individuals to ask more insightful and targeted questions. This can be particularly valuable in problem-solving and decision-making processes, as team members learn to approach challenges from different perspectives.

3. Annual Review and Continuous Improvement:

   The practice of metaprogram analysis can be incorporated into annual reviews, fostering continuous improvement within the team. Team members can reflect on their metaprogramme preferences, identify areas for growth, and set goals for personal development.

4. Team Dynamics and Composition:

  The process encourages teams to consider the diversity of metaprogramme profiles within the group. This awareness can be used when forming teams or adding new members, ensuring a balanced mix of cognitive approaches that contribute to a more well-rounded and effective team.

5. Prominent Display and Constant Reminder:

 Displaying team profiles prominently serves as a constant reminder for team members to be mindful of their cognitive preferences and those of their colleagues. This visual reinforcement can help maintain focus on understanding and adapting to different communication styles.

6. Networking Opportunities:

Encouraging team members to network with individuals who have different metaprogramme profiles or complementary strengths can lead to a richer exchange of ideas and perspectives. This diversity can stimulate creativity and innovation within the team.

In summary, metaprogram analysis can be a valuable tool for fostering self-awareness, improving communication, and optimizing team dynamics. The ongoing nature of the process, coupled with its integration into team practices, contributes to a culture of continuous learning and development.

Achieving optimal team performance is a game-changer for any organization. The key lies in understanding the power of thinking patterns (metaprogrammes). It assesses individuals’ thinking styles and helps them understand how they perceive the world and react to different situations.

By leveraging thinking patterns (metaprogrammes), you can help teams communicate, problem-solve, adapt, resolve conflicts, plan strategically, and work towards common goals. This knowledge can enhance team performance, morale, and collaboration.

As businesses evolve, it becomes imperative to understand different thinking styles and utilize them appropriately. Doing so helps teams and organizations stay ahead of the curve, optimize their output, adapt to new challenges, and achieve sustained success.

Recognition needs to go to Dr Jaime Leal’s approach to enhancing team performance through the F5 Team refresh, to Jaap Hollander, who developed MindSonar (online metaprogramme analysis) and Shelle Rose Charvet for LAB profiling.

Recruit, Retain, Retrain

In today’s dynamic work environment, the focus extends beyond mere recruitment logistics. It’s about securing the right talent at the right time, equipped with the requisite skills. 

However, there’s an additional layer: the imperative to streamline costs and embrace diversity. One solution lies in acknowledging what often escapes our notice—our thought processes. Our thinking patterns intricately shape our behavior and responses to specific roles. Understanding how we think, along with our values, forms the linchpin for aligning expectations with the purpose of a role. 

Furthermore, fostering an environment that encourages both autonomy and responsibility propels organizational advancement. How can we embark on this journey? By delving into the realm of measuring thinking styles. MindSonar, a tool that goes beyond surface-level personality assessments, becomes instrumental in identifying distinct thinking styles and values within any given scenario. MindSonar can play a role in various stages of the employee lifecycle—recruitment, retention, and retraining. 

Here’s how:


Identifying Suitable Candidates:

•  Use MindSonar assessments during the recruitment process to identify candidates whose thinking styles align with the requirements of the job. This can help you find individuals who naturally think in ways that are conducive to success in the specific role.

Enhancing the Interview Process:

  • Tailor interview questions based on the MindSonar results. This can provide deeper insights into a candidate’s cognitive preferences and help you assess their fit within the team and organization.
  • Through an articulate understanding of thinking patterns, one can tailor questions to identify strengths and blindspots in the different scenarios a candidate may encounter.

Reducing Turnover:

  • By understanding the thinking styles that thrive in your organization, you can select candidates who are more likely to be satisfied and successful in their roles, reducing the risk of turnover.


Team Dynamics:

  • Use MindSonar® to understand the thinking styles within your existing teams. This knowledge can be leveraged to build well-rounded teams with diverse cognitive approaches, fostering a collaborative and productive work environment.

Personalized Development Plans:

  • Tailor professional development plans based on individual thinking styles. This personalized approach can enhance job satisfaction and motivation, contributing to higher employee retention.

Conflict Resolution:

  • MindSonar® results can provide insights into potential sources of conflict within teams. Use this information to address and resolve interpersonal issues, creating a more harmonious work environment.


Identifying Learning Preferences:

  • Use MindSonar to identify employees’ preferred learning styles. Tailor training programs to match these preferences, making the learning process more effective and engaging.

Career Development:

  • Understand the thinking styles required for advancement in specific roles. Use MindSonar to guide employees toward training and development opportunities that align with their cognitive strengths and the organization’s needs.

Adapting to Change:

  • During times of organizational change, use MindSonar® to understand how different individuals may respond. This information can guide change management strategies and support employees in adapting to new situations.

If you would like to measure how you or the staff think, contact Ian at 01455241204. Please remember, that while MindSonar provides valuable insights, it should be used as part of a holistic approach to recruitment, retention, and retraining. Combining these insights with your existing tools and methods will contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of your employees and potential hires.

Enhancing Team Dynamics with MindSonar®: A Powerful Tool for Understanding Each Other

Effective teamwork is the cornerstone of success in any organisation. Teams that collaborate harmoniously tend to be more productive, innovative, and resilient. However, building and maintaining strong team dynamics can be challenging, especially when team members have diverse backgrounds, communication styles, and mindsets. In fact, you could argue a team is like a collection of different animal styles having a party! To overcome these challenges, many organisations want a more granular measurement that gets to the heart of problems and show the team a new way to communicate and collaborate. Organisations need skilled zoo keepers to do this or they could use a tool called MindSonar. MindSonar helps teams understand each other better and improve their overall performance.

We have been using Mindsonar in the UK for Team development in many organisations because it is adaptive and does what it says. It uncovers what is beneath that we cannot immediately see.

MindSonar is a psychological assessment tool developed by Dutch psychologist Jaap Hollander. It is designed to provide insights into how individuals think and make decisions in various contexts, which is immensely valuable in team settings. MindSonar is built on the principle that every person has a unique thinking profile, shaped by their beliefs, values, and cognitive strategies. By mapping these profiles, MindSonar helps teams understand each member’s perspectives and communication preferences.

Understanding MindSonar’s Approach

At its core, MindSonar assesses an individual’s thinking style based on the Meta Programs theory. Meta Programs are mental filters that influence how we perceive the world and make decisions. They cover areas like motivation, decision-making, social orientation, and communication. MindSonar identifies an individual’s dominant Meta Programs and represents them in a visual profile, allowing teams to gain deep insights into their members’ cognitive preferences.

How MindSonar Enhances Team Understanding

Improved Communication: MindSonar helps teams decode each member’s communication style. For example, it can reveal if someone is more focused on details or prefers a big-picture approach. Understanding these differences enables team members to communicate more effectively and reduces the risk of misunderstandings.

Conflict Resolution: By pinpointing potential areas of conflict, MindSonar allows teams to proactively address and resolve disputes. When team members understand each other’s motivations and triggers, they can navigate disagreements with empathy and find common ground.                     

Enhanced Decision-Making: MindSonar assists teams in making better decisions by considering a broader range of perspectives. Teams can identify which Meta Programs are overrepresented or underrepresented, helping them balance their decision-making processes.

Increased Empathy: Understanding the thinking profiles of team members fosters empathy and respect. Team members are more likely to appreciate each other’s unique strengths and contributions, creating a positive and inclusive team culture.                      

Tailored Leadership: Team leaders can adapt their leadership styles to better suit the needs and preferences of their team members. This leads to more effective leadership and improved team performance.

Implementing MindSonar in Teams

Assessment: Team members complete the MindSonar assessment, which typically consists of a series of questions or scenarios. The results are then analysed to create individual thinking profiles.

Team Workshops: Teams can participate in workshops facilitated by a MindSonar practitioner. These workshops help team members understand their own profiles and those of their colleagues.

Application: Once the team has a clear understanding of their thinking profiles, they can start applying this knowledge to their daily interactions, communication, and decision-making processes.

Ongoing Development: Teams can periodically revisit their MindSonar profiles and reassess their dynamics as they evolve. This ensures that teams remain adaptable and continue to improve their collaboration over time.


In a world where teamwork is essential for success, tools like MindSonar offer a valuable means of enhancing team dynamics. By helping team members understand each other’s thinking styles, communication preferences, and motivations, MindSonar promotes effective collaboration, reduces conflicts, and ultimately leads to improved team performance. As organizations increasingly recognize the importance of psychological insights in team development, MindSonar stands out as a powerful tool for fostering understanding and cohesion among team members. Hire a zoo keeper or use MindSonar

Cognitive Diversity: a Workforce needs a MindSonar® solution

Only a few weeks ago I was reminded about diverse thinking. I coach Colts Rugby and had, for my sins, agreed to help the under 7s team. Being prepared for herding cats, I planned a session to finish with a game. One 7-year-old explained how I could improve the game. I reluctantly entertained his idea and it was a hit. I had fun, the kids had fun and we were more productive in achieving the same outcomes of evasion, pace and teamwork.  

So let me ask you to stop and think. Yes, stop and think.  How many people do your clients have in their workforce that look like them, agree with them and act like them? The other rugby coaches did not question the game I had proposed. They look and sound similar to me.  

A lot has been written about diversity in the past 25 years and much has been concerned with demographic diversity. That is, diversity which is based on colour or race, sexuality, gender, age and culture.  Rightly so.  Demographic diversity is a must. It has been proven many times that an organisation that does not actively engage in diversity can limit ability and productivity. Organisations with a diverse workforce have the ability to be more productive. The Royal Academy of Engineering identified research into culture and inclusion in engineering and found that ‘inclusion benefits the performance of individual engineers, with 80% reporting increased motivation, 68% increased performance and 52% increased commitment.’

Failure to engage with people who are diverse has led to well documented disasters such as the 9/11 bombings in the USA. The CIA at the time was populated with highly intelligent men, ‘the best of the best,’ white, Ivy-League educated men. They overlooked the warning signs of a terrorist attack. Why? Because they could not perceive the threat or signs of build-up in terrorist activity. Despite the high entrance examinations and psychological assessments to become an agent for the CIA they lacked diversity and reference experience beyond their world. They lacked understanding of an impending problem. Their perception in the context of attacks in the USA was: it will never happen, they cannot win.  The CIA agents were all from a similar mould and this had served the CIA well. 

However, while the agents lacked demographic diversity and reference experience to a problem, it has also been argued they lacked understanding and had little cognitive diversity within their group. As MindSonar® professionals we can explain the measurement of others against ourselves as thinking differently or being cognitively diverse.  We know this in simple terms as how you think and what you value, what drives or motivates YOU is different to ME. Neither is good or bad, it’s how that style serves us at that time in a specific context.  Our cognitive style, as we know, is not our personality. Our style is not fixed but it is flexible.   

Let me give an example that might prove helpful for clients.  You know when you have experienced a problem and you have contacted a friend or called a wise parent who has provided new insight to your approach because they experienced the same or a similar problem before?  I suspect you can recall how grateful you were for their input and how much time it saved you. Imagine doing this always in the work environment.   Imagine if the CIA had access to MindSonar® measurement for building a team of diverse thinkers?

So back to our problem: the skills of MindSonar® can help – instead of dialling a friend or colleague, why not advise a client to dial internally and ask some questions about what approach would be more helpful from referenced experience? What options or steps could be useful here? What could go wrong or what do they need to solve this? By using the opposite of your meta programmes you gain access to a range of new answers. Jaime Leal uses this approach with teams by leaving them with a MindSonar® coach in the room poster – a set of questions that a team can ask of themselves to manage their blind spots. 

It would be fair to say fostering demographic diversity gains different views, but it is not targeted at thinking differently.  Yes, we may gain some advantage if we have people from different backgrounds but if they attended the same school, and the same training programmes, they are likely to act like each other.  So demographic diversity only partly meets the world of change we face with artificial intelligence which poses many challenges to our work. 

With complex problems we need a variety of views on how to approach and understand information or to solve problems. Price Waterhouse Cooper identify that we are living through a fundamental transformation in the way we work. Automation and ‘thinking machines’ are replacing human tasks and jobs and changing the skills that organisations are seeking in their people. These momentous changes raise huge organisational, talent and HR challenges – at a time when business leaders are already wrestling with unprecedented risks, disruption and political and societal upheaval. 

Now we know the problems, it is fair to say we have one of the best solutions available: MindSonar®.

If we are going to meet the demands of the future, we need to share how we can develop understanding of  a workforce in others so that workforce can be more productive, solve problems more effectively and challenge each other to gain results. Perhaps we need organisations to develop a change in what they ask when seeking the right people for the roles they have. Instead of asking: who do we need? Perhaps we could encourage organisations to ask: what do we need in terms of thinking style and values against our long-term needs and gaps in the organisation?

Organisations by their nature in these unprecedented times and rapid development want success regardless of their motivators and the quickest way to gain success is by harnessing the right workforce to do the right job at the right time. The workforce that understands and harnesses different styles through understanding will be the workforce that lasts and WE  have the key to unlock their success.  

After over 20 years of coaching rugby, a diverse, uninhibited thinker, aged 7, brought fun and energy to my coaching. Cognitive diversity in the workplace to meet future demands is so important because #thinkingmakesitso when we use MIndSonar®

Career Coaching Powered by MindSonar

Before running an executive coaching business, I followed a career in health, starting nursing in 1986. I have been privileged to work with a variety of professionals and as my career progressed from clinical to strategic management, people would come to me for advice about their career and next steps.

Most of the advice I gave was based on my experience of what worked for me: CV structure, responding to interview questions, preparation, clarifying meaning and how to interview prospective employers.

As a coach, I became more adept at asking those precise unlocking questions that would support a client in looking for their next role. However, having recently started to use a new online psychological tool called MindSonar to support career coaching, I look back at how much more I could have supported people in their decisions, getting to the heart of what they wanted.

What is the benefit of using MindSonar in the context of career coaching?

This month I have completed two career coaching sessions powered by MindSonar. It is based on meta programmes, which means that the tool explicitly identifies a person’s thinking style and their values, that is what is important to them. It is also context specific and assumes thinking styles change depending on the context.

So how do you career coach using MindSonar?

I ask the client to think about when they are at their best in work, or in a flow state at work. The context the client and I usually set is, “at my best in work.” This elicits the client’s best thinking style when at work and their blind spots, along with what is important to them.

Why is this important in career coaching? 

Firstly, by identifying what is important we can establish what a client values in other people and the environment. This provides an objective and accurate picture of their prospective employer and narrows the search. It allows the client to prepare to ask questions pre-interview and at interview to identify if the company is suited to them.   After all, why would you work with a company who does not share your values?

Secondly, we establish a client’s strengths and blind spots but more importantly, we can show how a combination of thinking styles works for them. How does this help? The client gains clarity about their thinking style and can review the job description to establish if they can meet the objectives. They can refine their CV based on the analysis in a short, punchy brand statement, “This is who I am and what I can do.”

The client can also identify how they may come across to an employer. For example, a highly proactive thinker and options client will tend to talk very fast and move from topic to topic. They may need to practice slowing down their speech and keeping to one or two points. Together as coach and client we can identify and challenge the blind spots in their thinking. Knowing thyself and being honest with an employer allows for an open and stable footing, as opposed to getting through the door and ending up on capability report!

How did the sessions go?

Career_Coach_Dream_Job1.gifThe coaching sessions I ran highlighted some great insights and changes for both clients, most notably it opened their eyes to new horizons. One client stated at the beginning of the session that his outcome was to walk away with new ideas of what to do and who to work for, also stating that his ideal role was in policy writing. His thinking style and value base when analysed did not appear to be a match for a policy writing role. What he enjoyed about his current role was shaping policy, working with a team, leading people and creating possibilities. He is now focused on what he wants to do and what type of employer he wants to work with.

Does MindSonar do everything? 

No, MindSonar powers the coaching, it’s not a personality profile you post and leave people to read. MindSonar gives a specific advantage to both you and the client to challenge assumptions and achieve the best outcome.Your skills as a coach are still essential.

You will appreciate I have covered only a few aspects my coaching session, but as coaches, you will know how much work you take a client through. With MindSonar in my coaches toolkit, the coaching and any change work are more precise, getting to the heart of the matter. As a coach, you are able to quickly support a client who is, after all, paying for your expertise.


Ian Clarke

MS professional, LAB Consultant, NLP trainer, ILM Executive Coach

Director of Workforce Solutions Group and Head of MindSonar UK.