MindSonar is a Layered Cake

When you are reading this, you probably understand that MindSonar is a contextualized measuring system, rather than a standard test. MindSonar measures your mindset in a given context. And we assume that you may have a different mindset in different contexts. I often express this in a simple metaphor: “Give uncle Fred three glasses of whiskey, and he is a different person”. If we compare it with personality tests, MindSonar is more like a thermometer and less like a box of rubber stamps. 

Now that we are mixing metaphors anyway, I would also like to point out that MindSonar is like a layered cake. Let’s have a look at how the layers will be different in different applications of MindSonar.

Layer one is measuring Meta Programs and Graves Drives. Layer two is defining a combination and what that combination does in a given context.

Layer one is always the same: defining the mindset (thinking styles and value types).

Layer two can be different, depending on the purpose we use MindSonar for. In recruiting f.i., we are looking for combinations that work well in a certain context (a job, a role, a set of tasks). This is the benchmark. We then compare candidates with that benchmark. Depending on how big the project is, we may even apply statistics to support our benchmark.

The cherry on the cake is the application, the added value. In this case: selecting a candidate that will do well in that job. Or maybe I should phrase that more carefully: a candidate that has the right mindset for that job.

Like I mentioned before: what the second layer of the cake is made of, depends on what we want to use MindSonar for. In coaching – rather than recruitment – we usually start off with a combination that creates problems in that context for that person. This combination describes how the problem arises. So in coaching, layer two is a problematic, undesirable combination.

The coaching cake has – in this phase – a different cherry too. Here the added value is understanding how the problem arises. In a sense you are baking two cakes here. That second cake, with a different layer on the same basis: the desired thinking patterns and value set for that context. What kind of mindset would this client rather have? What kind of thinking could solve the problem, or even prevent it from arising at all? Often this is a fairly simple formula saying: “More of this and less of that”. “More of this meta program and less of that meta program. More oft his Graves Drive and less of that one”.

In team building, a third example, the top layer is different again. Now it consists of looking at the interaction. How do the different mindsets of the people in the group influence each other? And how does that explain – or describe – the strengths and challenges of the team?

In team building too, just like in coaching, there are desired and problematic combinations, but now they are mixes, rather that simple combinations. In this case the cherry is not finding the optimal mindset, but rather finding and propagating the optimal interaction of mindsets.

Pro’s and con’s
The good thing about all this is, that you can calibrate MindSonar to the situation you are using it in. MindSonar will be more accurate for that situation than any standard test could be. In a sense you are constructing a new benchmark – however informally – every time you use MindSonar.

There is also a price to pay: you – as the MindSonar professional – will have to determine the benchmark for that context. Usually, of course, you will involve the client in this. It is work you need to do. You will have to mix and bake that second layer, before you can eat the cake. That makes the measurement more relevant and accurate for that context than a standard test. But is is also more work than using a standard test.

An example
To give an example, let’s assume there is a standard test for empathy. I haven’t dived into this, but there is probably a test like that somewhere. It might have a name like NCEES “The North Carolina Emotional Empathy Scale”. Measuring ‘The ability to feel what somebody else feels’.

Now, if I am hiring a group of new coaches for students in my university, I would want them to be reasonably empathic. So I could give candidates for the job this imaginary empathy test, the NCEES. And I might also want to find candidates who are congruent, and persuasive, and dependable, so I could give them tests for these three qualities too. 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 student coach has and what tests are available. I might even find a test for coaching ability somewhere, although that would probably not be focused on coaching students, specifically.

The advantage of the standard approach is, that I can start right away. Break out the tests and start measuring! Although, in actual practice, it might still take me quite a lot of reading  and evaluating to assemble a good testing kit. But let’s say I have done this before, I know what I want to measure and where to find good tests, so I can do this quickly. In the layered cake metaphor: I can get started without baking the second layer. A time saver. But there is a downside: I don’t know how well my combination of standard tests predicts coaching performance with our students in our university.

Enter MindSonar. I start by baking the second layer of the cake. I identify positive examples; happy and effective student coaches working at my university.  I profile them and I calculate their average profile. I discuss this with my positive examples, the effective coaches – whom I now know, since I just profiled them and I probably discussed their profiles with them. Based on my average profile plus the input of my experts, I define a benchmark profile. This is what I use to select candidates. It is more work, but with this benchmark I am much more likely to be  measuring something that is relevant for my university. And I have come know several experts, which may also come in handy during the selection process.

Discovering your Mission – a powerful and inspiring use of MindSonar

Clients often approach me wanting to find out what they could do to achieve a feeling of satisfaction with their life – a sense that they are doing what they are “supposed” to be doing. It’s a big ask! Until I trained as a MindSonar professional, it was also a tricky thing to work upon with clients and often took a lot of time to even get close to.

I was therefore very interested when I spotted in the MindSonar training course, the exercise entitled “Exploring Your Mission”. I have to admit I was also a little sceptical – it’s quite a claim for a single exercise.

I found the preparation work for the session very intriguing. It included questions about the things I’d enjoyed at various stages of my life and for three “heroes or heroines” of mine. It asked about the emotions and values I achieved from them.  I was intrigued by the questions, especially as several were of things I’d not considered before and so were very thought-provoking. By the end of the preparatory work I was asked to complete the following statements:

A metaphor for “I am a kind of ...”, “I am like a …

I believe in … 

My contribution to the larger whole is to …

I then completed my MindSonar® profile in the context of “Fulfilling my mission” and was ready and looking forward to the exercise itself.

The process of exploration, reflection and discovery that takes place within the exercise was fascinating. It provided an opportunity to discover far more about what the experiences, emotions and values identified in the prep work meant to me. I began to see how they fitted together to give an understanding of the commonalities in the seemingly disparate things I’d enjoyed at different stages in my life , and of the things and characters which I admired.

The discoveries I made about myself through this exercise, combined with my MindSonar profile, came together in an incredibly powerful way. I came to understand a lot more about situations in which I felt stuck and I identified ways in which I could change some aspects of both my business and personal activities to make them more fulfilling and less stagnant. I felt genuinely inspired and enabled to make really positive changes to my life.

I would recommend this exercise to anyone looking to improve their feelings of overall satisfaction or to discover their direction in life. As such it will be particularly useful for people who are at a crossroads in life such as career change, post-divorce or retirement.

If you’ve already done the MindSonar “Exploring Your Mission” exercise please share your experience of it in the comments section. If you haven’t and would like to, then get in touch with your local MindSonar professional to find out more and to arrange one – it’s definitely worth it!



Improving Motivation and Job Satisfaction – the importance of the Graves Drives

One valuable use of MindSonar is to identify a person’s motivators.  For example, this is important when designing recruitment and retention strategies for an organisation and for individual teams, and when coaching individuals who want to achieve a long-term goal which will take time and dedication.

In using MindSonar for these purposes it’s important to look at the Graves Drives within each profile.  These will tell you a lot about the values that matter most to the individual – the things that they need to get from the given context in order to feel fulfilled and motivated.  By looking at the Graves Drives of the individuals concerned, it usually becomes apparent that, even in the same context, different people have quite different values.

For example, in people considering changing jobs in a particular sector, I have seen some who prioritise the Graves Drives Powerand Competition, and others for whom Learning and Order are the priorities. Similar differences can exist even between members of the same team.

By knowing this and by being aware of the impact of not enabling individuals to obtain them (namely, dissatisfaction and demotivation) managers and coaches can develop a more tailored approach to motivation.  This could be by using different language when describing the opportunities available – emphasising those aspects which match what is important to the individual, or (for larger organisations) it could be about providing a more varied range of any optional benefits available to staff.

Without the information that is provided by the Graves Drives as identified by the MindSonar profile it is all too easy to fall back on the assumption that all people are motivated by the same things. Such an approach can lead to poor recruitment and retention results for companies, or to coaching clients becoming disenchanted with their progress towards major goals.

Of course, the whole profile should be taken into account as thinking styles are also an important consideration, but without an understanding of the individual’s values, much could be missed.

If you’ve done a MindSonar profile, have another look at your Graves drives and think about how they are influencing you in that context – could you improve your own motivation by taking them more into account?  If you haven’t done a profile yet, then why not contact a certified MindSonar Professional to arrange one – it could make all the difference to your success!

MindSonar Benchmarks for Project Teams – I wish I’d known about Them!

In my previous role I was responsible for managing a major programme involving multiple project teams. Part of the programme management involved regular risk management and “lessons learned” meetings. During these meetings, representatives from each of the project teams would discuss any issues that had arisen since the last meeting, and what steps had been taken – or needed to be taken – in order to rectify the issue and prevent it happening again.

The aim of the meetings was to ensure that the systems and processes we had in place were adequate to minimise the risk of problems arising and to enable a rapid corrective response when needed. However, at times these meetings could become quite tense because there was a fine line to tread between good risk management and problem resolution on one side and the development of a blame culture on the other. This was clearer to some members than others. Some members would always want to attribute all problems to individuals, rather than to consider the more common situation of them arising from system weaknesses. Tthe result was that friction would arise between those individuals with a “name and shame” approach and other members of the programme board. This created risks to the programme itself as it could result in people being reluctant to raise issues when they spotted them in fear of being blamed.

As the manager of this programme I had to manage the situation and try to cultivate a systems approach in the individuals concerned, most of whom I had no direct line management of.

How helpful it would have been to have had MindSonar back then. I believe it would have been possible to construct a Benchmark Profile to help identify the members of each project team who would be best suited to be the risk management/lessons learnt representative. This Benchmark Profile could have been constructed in consultation with other project and programme managers to provide a narrated estimation (with consultation).

My first thoughts about this are that this benchmark profile might include the following:

Graves Drives: Ideals; Learning;

Meta Programmes:

High: Away From (for risk management); Past (for lessons learnt);Structure (for systems approach)

Low: People (to avoid blame approach)

There are likely to be others and different views which is why I would prefer a benchmark profile resulting from a narrated estimation with consultation.

It would be great to hear from other MindSonar Professionals about their thoughts on this – and about whether anyone has yet used the MindSonar tool in this context.

It would also be good to hear from project and programme managers who have found themselves in similar situations – they could find MindSonar particularly useful when allocating project roles to their team members.

What are your thoughts?  Use the comments box below to share your experiences and views on this.

MindSonar: Very helpful in job marketing!

In some time periods it’s easy to find a new job, in other periods it can be very hard. In those hard times, your job marketing skills are extremely important. Job marketing is the way to conquer the work barrier, so to say. Because when you are one of 200 job seekers in your region, looking for something new, finding a job is a day job in itself.

How can meta programs help?

First, it’s important to have a focus on which job you prefer. So, your meta program ‘towards’ has to be highly developed. It has been scientifically proven that it is better to apply for specific jobs. So don’t say “I’m available for anything”. That way you are not recognizable for recruiters and they will skip your LinkedIn profile or resume. So your ‘options’ meta program has to be somewhat lower here.

Then, discover whether you are ready to go networking. Is your internal control no longer influenced by grief or mourning from your last job? Is your ‘now’ and ‘future’ switched on instead of ‘past’? That’s really important, because you like to give your network relations the impression of someone who is ready for new work activities. Optimistic and open minded. So, ‘internal locus of control’, ‘towards’ and ‘matching’ are useful.

Next, it’s highly recommended to have a plan for your networking activities. So put on your ‘procedure’, ‘activitities’ and ‘people’ and ‘information’ meta programmes, because you need them all! Depending on what you discover during your search, work with a procedure, a plan.

Next, via Linked In it’s possible to find people who do the work you prefer to do, and to see who can introduce you to this employee. In a network date you need the thinking styles “external reference” to be able to really stand in the shoes of the other, and find out what is important for you to develop.
So your meta program “development” is also of great importance. So you can find out what is the gap between the job you want and your competencies. In that case it can be useful to put on “past” as a meta program, because you learned a lot already. When you walk through your work-past with a career coach, you’ll find out that you can do a lot more than you thought.

When you were asked to apply for a job because someone in your network is giving you a hint, your meta programs are helpful as well. Analyze the job very specifically. Which thinking styles do you need the most? What do you read in the text of the profile? Are the tasks specifically defined or just global mentioned? Is the company emphasizing future aspects of the firm, or mentioning where it stands nowadays, or where it comes from? Does it say more about the colleagues, of about the tasks and activities, or are there given lots of information?
So, analyzing the text is very important, because now you can put on the ‘external reference’ meta program again to write your letter in exactly the same style. So that the recruiter matches (perhaps unconsciously) your skills with the job.

When you are invited for an interview, you can use all meta programs. Depending on the recruiters you’re speaking with and which meta program you discover during the interview. Do they ask how you see your first day at work? Or how you are able to harmonize with other team members? Or what your feelings are about the company’s last moves on the market? Match their representation systems!
Are there questions about the essence of the vision of the firm, or about how one part of the process fits in another part, or how you want to put the vision into activities?

Yes, it does sound like you have to be more than an expert in analyzing all those meta programs simultaneously in your search for a job! But don’t panic. When in doubt, ask for a MindSonar expert to help you get the on line measurement and get coached in how to put the most efficient styles on. Start by just putting effort in using a few important, significant thinking styles and you will succeed, sooner or later.


The Psychologist who Lost Herself in the Therapy Process

This post was written by Jantine Wijtsma, a long time MindSonar professional from the Netherlands. Jantine works mainly in career counseling and we hope that she will continue for many posts to tell us how she is using MindSonar in her daily practice.

I do a lot of career coaching for people who have had to call in sick, because they are in an early stage of burnout. Most of the time they have not actually burned out yet, but the condition does relate to them not knowing why their job doesn’t make them feel healthy any more. They don’t feel good, they lack energy, have vague muscle complaints or headaches, things like that.Continue reading