As you know only too well, the meta program ‘options’ is defined as a preference for having many different possibilities, while its counterpart ‘procedure’ is characterised by a preference to use step-by-step plans.
These meta programs are related to the ‘Rule/group conformity’ and the ‘Sufficiency/proliferation of originality’ subscales of the ‘Kirton Adaption–Innovation (AI) continuum of cognitive style’ (Kirton, 1987) as well as the distinction between ‘judging’ and ‘perceiving’ in Myer’s addition to Jung's theory of psychological types (Geyer, 1995).
Kirton: Adaption versus innovation
Kirton describes adaptors as “conforming to the established procedures or ways of doing things - these established procedures represent the step-by-step planning which is learned by experience and guidelines and is the opposite of seeing possibilities and aiming for change”. Adaptors also seek collaboration in problem solving and conform to rules and groups (personal or informal structures). Innovators seek new and unique ways (which also means new possibilities) and are not likely to pay attention to tradition and consensus but are more likely to break the rules and make unexpected decisions.
Items in the Kirton Adaption–Innovation inventory that measure rule/group conformity are (Kirton, 1976):
20. Imposes strict order on matters with their control
21. Fits readily into “the system”
23. Readily agrees with the team at work
24. Never seeks to bend or break the rules
25. Never acts without proper authority
26. Is prudent when dealing with authority
27. Likes the protection of precise instructions
28. Is predictable
29. Prefers colleagues who never “rock the boat”
30. Likes bosses and work patterns which are consistent.
31. Works without deviation in a prescribed way
32. Holds back ideas until obviously needed.
Items in the Kirton Adaption–Innovation inventory that measure ‘sufficiency/proliferation of originality’ are (Kirton, 1976):
1. Has original ideas
2. Proliferates ideas
3. Is stimulating
4. Copes with several new ideas at the time
5. Will always think of something when stuck
6. Would sooner create than improve
7. Has fresh perspectives on old problems
8. Often risks doing things differently
9. Likes to vary set routines at a moment’s notice
10. Prefers to work on one problem the time
11. Can stand out in disagreement with the group
12. Need the stimulation of frequent change
13. Prefers changes to occur gradually
Psychological types: judging versus perceiving
Jung distinguished 8 psychological types. He theorised that the dominant function in these types (extraverted/ introverted and sensing/intuition/ thinking/feeling) characterises consciousness, while its opposite is repressed and characterises unconscious behaviour (Jung, 1933). The judging/perceiving distinction, which was added later to Jung’s original types by Myer, reflects whether a person relies primarily on a judging process (thinking or feeling) or a perceiving process (sensing or intuition) in their decision making and other dealings with the outer world. The ‘judging’ type likes to make plans and to-do-lists. The perceiving type likes to stay open to the outer world (to new experiences and information).
“Judging people are decisive, self-starters and self-regimented. They also focus on completing the task, knowing the essentials, and they take action quickly. They plan their work and work their plan. Deadlines are sacred as they see time as a finite resource. They want guides that give quick tips.
Perceptive people are curious, adaptable, and spontaneous. They start many tasks, want to know everything about each task, and often find it difficult to complete a task. Deadlines are meant to be stretched while more information is gathered as they see time as a renewable resource. They like to leave their options open.” (Clark. 2011).
When we compare the options and procedure meta programs with Kirton’s ‘rule/group conformity’ and ‘sufficiency/proliferation of originality’ subscale’ and with the distinction between ‘judging’ and ‘perceiving’, we see the following similarities and differences:
a. When Kirton describes adaptors as liking “established procedures” and “step-by-step planning” he is literally describing what we onderstand the meta program ‘procedure’ to mean. Likewise, his description of innovators as “seeking new and unique ways (which also means new possibilities)” is a direct description op the meta program ‘options’. So here we see a strong similarity.
b. When we look at the items in Kirton’s rule/group conformity subscale, we see that 7 items are a direct reflection of the meta program procedure (items 20, 24, 27,28, 29, 30 and 31). The other 5 items, however, reflect the meta program ‘external reference’ rather than ‘procedure’ (items 21, 22, 23, 26, and 32). From a meta program perspective, this subscale consists of 58% ‘procedure’ and 42% ‘external reference’. It looks like in the 'rule/group conformity' concept, the ‘rule’ element is ‘procedure’, while the ‘group’ element is ‘external reference’.
c. When we look at the items in Kirton’s ‘sufficiency/proliferation of originality’ subscale, we see that 7 items are a direct reflection of the meta program ‘options’ (items 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9). The other 6 items in this subscale, however, mostly reflect other meta programs. Item 11 reflects ‘internal reference’ and item 12 reflects ‘change’, while item 13 reflects ‘development’. From a meta program perspective, this subscale consists of 54% options and 46% other meta programs.
c. As we mentioned before, another difference is that Kirton limits the context for his cognitive styles to working situations, while meta programs may pertain to any context.
Summarising: The rule/group conformity subscale in the Kirton Adaption-Innovation continuum is a direct reflection of the meta program ‘procedure’ for about half the scale. The other half of the scale reflects ‘external reference’. Similarly, the ‘sufficiency/proliferation of originality’ subscale is a direct reflection of the meta program ‘options’ for about half the scale. The other half of the scale reflects other meta programs.
a. When we view the ‘judging’ versus ‘perceiving’ psychological types, we see that the ‘judging’ type
- likes to make plans and to-do-lists
- is self-starting and self-regimented
- focuses on completing the task
- plans their work and works their plan
- adheres to deadlines
- wants guides
These are all expressions of the meta program ‘procedure’
b. The ‘perceiving’ type
- likes to stay open to new experiences and information
- starts many tasks
- often finds it difficult to complete a task
- does not adhere to deadlines
- likes to leave their options open.
These are all expressions of the meta program ‘options’
c. The ‘judging’ versus ‘perceiving’ distinction does not, however, reflect the ‘procedure’ versus ‘options’ meta programs exclusively.
- ‘Knowing the essentials’ (judging) reflects the meta program ‘concept’.
- ‘Taking action quickly’ (judging) reflects the meta program ‘proactive’.
- ‘Wanting to know everything about each task’ (perceiving) reflects the meta programs ‘information’ and ‘ specific’.
Summarising: To a fairly large extent the ‘judging’ versus ‘perceiving’ psychological types overlap with the meta programs ‘procedure’ versus ‘options’. These types also contain other meta programs, like ‘concept’ and ‘proactive’.