MindSonar is a Layered Cake – Theory

MindSonar is a Layered Cake – Theory

When you are coaching someone or selecting a candidate for a job, it is useful to remember that MindSonar is a contextualized, two-level measuring system, rather than a standard test. In that sense, MindSonar is like a two layered cake. Layer one is measuring Meta Programs and values. Layer two is finding out which combination of those works well in a given situation. So remember that MindSonar is contextualized, meaning that it is adapted to the situation it is used in. This is a major difference with other psychological tests. The good thing about this, is that it is calibrated to the situation you are using it in, so it is – or at minimum has the potential to be – much more accurate for that situation than any standard test could be. And – as so often – there is also a price to pay: you will have to determine what the desired Meta Programs and Graves Drives are – for that situation.

To give an example, let’s presume that there is a standard test for ‘Empathy’. I haven’t looked it up, but there probably is such a test somewhere. Empathy: the ability to feel or to experience what goes on with other people. Think ‘rapport’. Think ‘mirror neurons’. Now, if I am hiring someone as a coach for college students, I would probably want them to be reasonably empathic. So I test them with this empathy test. And I might also want to find a coach who is congruent, and persuasive, and dependable, so I also give them tests on all these qualities. I might end up with a whole bunch of tests, depending on how specific I want to get. This presupposes, by the way, that I have a pretty good idea of what qualities a good students coach has. I might even find a test for coaching ability somewhere, although that would probably not be focused on coaching students.

So what I end up with is with multiple tests for several different qualities. Or if I am lucky I find a test that tests specifically for the task I want. Most of these tests, however are ‘general purpose’ or ‘multi-context’; e.g. they refer to stable characteristics. They are assuming that if person X has the quality of ’empathy’, they will display that quality in all contexts. Which is a pretty doubtful assumption, actually.

The advantage of this approach is that I can start right away. Break out the tests and start measuring. The disadvantage is that I usually need to use several different tests, that I have to somehow coordinate the results. And how do these tests relate to the context I am measuring for? In this case: how dependable is a general empathy test in predicting how well someone will do as a students coach?

Enter MindSonar. Now what I do is, I first identify some positive examples. Which students coaches are doing fine and getting good results? I profile them with MindSonar and I find the average profile that defines the thinking style of a happy and effective students coach. This average profile is my calibration, it is my thinking style wish list. Or my norm profile. I check to what extent candidates resemble this profile. And I can be reasonably certain that I am measuring something that is relevant for that context.

There is a lot more to this, for instance how you can determine a norm profile without measuring examples. But I won’t get into that today. What I want to stress here, is that MindSonar is two layer system. Layer one: MindSonar measures Meta Programs and values. Layer two: we determine which Meta Programs and values someone needs for a certain function or a certain task



About the Author

Jaap Hollander

Jaap Hollander

Psychologist, living in the Netherlands. Founded MindSonar in 1995. Working as a trainer, coach and therapist as well as being director of the IEP, the Institute for Eclectic Psychology. Has written 10 books on NLP and Provocative Coaching. Most recent book: "Provocative Coaching" (English), fall 2012 (Crown House) available from Amazon.


  1. As Jaap stated in the article: there is more to the subject of compiling norm profile (the ideal thinking style for a specific context). You may have inside knowledge of a work field and the job requirements inside that field … and still be unable to reason your way to a valid norm profile.
    Mindsonar to the rescue: Once you have profiled a number of good examples it tells you whether the examples are comparable enough for the average of those profiles to have any meaning. You will just need a simple EXCEL spreadsheet to calculate the average profile and standard deviations for all of the separate elements (metaprograms) of the average profile.
    E-mail me (or any of the mindsonar professionals) for such a spreadsheet.

  2. Empathy as a competence is highly relevant to people employed in my area of expertise (law enforcement, inspection), at least if they want to enjoy a safe and agreeable work day and avoid complaints to their superiors!
    Relevant metaprograms include External Referencing to a certain minimal degree (even if Internal Reference should be the higher of the two), Matching (although they obviously need a certain degree of mismatching as well), a focus on People (higher than on Activities and Information) and probably Kinesthetic (3 or 4 out of 10).
    In addition: scoring higher on Global than Specific also helps to avoid being seen as a nit picker, and scoring higher on Options than Procedure has a similar effect.

  3. That’s right … The use context is definitely a great contribution, this allows use of a precise and specific manner. It is a two-layer cake but with various flavors and colors … we can find in this context and in those layers, different ways to enjoy.

  4. I think one of the competitive advantages of mindsonar is the opportunity it gives us to do it in a multitude of contexts, which is useful, since human beings possess characteristics that may work in one context but not in another, which does not involves having certain characteristics or skills that are owned, but to seek activities to flourish me according to my skills and abilities, and work in my areas of opportunity disappear. Therefore this tool is also very useful in the recruitment and selection of personnel.

  5. One of the services of my company in Guatemala is precisely to give advice on the recruitment and selection, however, customers have lost confidence in many commercial tests, become obsolete.

    MindSonar can revolutionize these processes which I find very interesting, especially in a market with great potential such as Latin America.

  6. This is exactly why I love MindSonar so much. And also because it is contextdriven and doesn’t give people a colour like MDI-tests (I am yellow, or green….). That makes it very neutral and useful in teambuilding.

  7. Mindsonar is a very powerful tool to use in all types of Coaching. As it is a very versatile, it allows to any coach to adapt to his needs. In my experience I have met differente colleagues and all of us use it in different contexts and different process of Coaching: Team Building, Life Coaching, Personal Branding ( in my case) and many others. Not all the existing tools can adapt to our needs!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *