One of the essential ways to establish better business process management is to document business objectives using mapping techniques. Generally this can take the form of flow charts, which are usually a culmination of rigorous documentation, communication, process workshops, and meetings between staff members.
The important thing about process maps is that they are accessible, understandable, and quick and easy to use for employees - all factors which drive productivity.
But recent advances in psychology have identified another dimension to mapping techniques that not many people know about. These mapping techniques are much more innate, more personal, and can further improve workplace productivity.
Mapping the ‘Landscape of the Mind’
Have you ever done something completely out of character and then immediately thought: “Why on Earth did I do that?” It may have been because you were, to some extent, completely out of character. There may have been a different “you” inside your head at that time, that the typical “you” does not recognise.
It all sounds a little supernatural, but it is normal and most people can relate to having a moment like this. This is all down to the new science of multiplicity. That is, of multiple personalities. Our personalities -- how we feel; how we act -- can change on a day-to-day, even hourly basis. Some people have lots of different personalities, some people have very few. Most of us are in between, with a handful of personalities that can influence our behaviour, and how we act and think on a given day. This is known as the multiplicity spectrum.
You can find out where you are on the multiplicity spectrum with this personality quiz, take a minute to find out now:
How did you do? Write down your score - it will be useful toward the end of this article.
Because most people have a handful of personalities, they tend to score somewhere in the 8 - 23 range. A score lower than eight is very uncommon but by no means a bad thing: it just means that you have very few personalities, and one almost dominant singular personality. Likewise, although a score higher than 23 is also uncommon, having a flurry of personalities is also not necessarily a bad thing, and can be highly advantageous in the workplace.
All of your personalities can be pinned to just five traits and their opposites.
Over the last 60 years, psychologists have pruned over 18,000 emotional and descriptive words and eliminated all but five of them - the so-called “Big Five” in psychology. They (and their opposites) are :
There is no single personality that will conform to one of the Big Five traits entirely. In reality, all of us will display some parts of a trait and its opposite. For example, no matter how agreeable we think we are, we will almost certainly display some amount of disagreeableness.
What does this mean for Business Process Management?
Your personalities - their frequency and type - can have a big impact on how you behave at work, and on the quality of the work you put out. What’s fascinating about changes in personality is that they are very rarely noticed by the people experiencing them (hence the ‘Why on Earth did I do that?’ question that stumps most of us at least some of the time).
History is littered with single disastrous events that may have turned out differently if someone had acted differently. The Chernoybl disaster might have been averted if the deputy chief engineer, Anatoly Dyatlov, had not been so disagreeable in the early hours of the morning at the nuclear power plant. Similarly, there are instances where single people - such as Brian Hunter and John Meriwether - have lost billions of dollars’ worth of stock in trading.
Extreme examples, yes, but could they have been avoided? The answer is almost certainly yes.
Luckily, there is a way to remove yourself from whatever personality that is currently in charge of “you” and tease out more favourable traits for the situation you are in.
The Personality Wheel: BPM for the mind
Like we use flowcharts to visualise processes, we can use a personality wheel to visualise how our frame of mind “looks”. This can be a very handy way of seeing if our current personality is up to the mark, or if it needs adjusting.
The personality wheel works to visualise your mind in respect to the Big Five traits and their opposites. For example:
This is an example of a personality wheel. It has been filled in by a person who, at least at the time, considers themselves to be a very open-minded person and extroverted; with moderate agreeableness. To plot your personality on a wheel like this, find a quiet place and, using the table below, tick off each of the following ‘feelings’ that you think describes you right now:
Notice how it is not possible to tick everything off in the table. This is because the table includes strong feelings and their opposites. For example, ‘creative’ and ‘uncreative’ are opposites, so it would not make logical sense to tick both - it’s one or the other.
How did you get on? If you are like most of the general population, you probably ticked more boxes in one part of the table than in the opposite part of the table. The number of ticks you have for any trait determines how many ‘points’ you will need to plot on the blank personality wheel below.
For example, if you ticked five boxes for the agreeable trait and three for the disagreeable trait, then your personality wheel for agreeable would look the same as in the below example.
Joining the Personality Quiz and the Personality Wheel Together
Do you remember the score you had in the personality quiz? That score has a direct bearing on how often you should use the personality wheel to ‘catch’ and record your personalities.
0 - 7
Remember, a low score puts you on the low end of the multiplicity scale. You are unlikely to experience major changes in personality, or if you do, they are uncommon; and probably only happen in response to sudden, unexpected emotional changes.
If this is the case then you won’t need to mind map your personality all that much. But initially you should do it everyday for about a week, and at different times of day. This is to make sure you actually are low on the multiplicity scale. Sometimes our personalities can be so strong we cannot see past them. So better be safe than sorry, and test it out. As stated before, it is also important to have a friend or family member there to overrule your inherent judgements about yourself.
If you were correct and your personality is uniform, this should be reflected throughout the week. From then on, it serves to only map out your personality from time to time; or after sudden unorthodox events.
8 - 23
For most of us, it pays to keep a good check on our personalities throughout the week; again at different times of the day and on most days. Because we are prone to personality changes, this exercise should reveal fascinating patterns in response to the calendar of the week (i.e. a rowdier, more extroverted personality on weekends, perhaps).
Because we all have personalities that change, it is better to keep track with the personality wheel for about a month. At that time - barring any emotive changes, which can be as slight as the morning after a bad night’s sleep - patterns should emerge. You will be surprised to find that certain moods tend to come about at certain times, especially if your daily life is routine bound.
This level on the multiplicity scale requires more of the same, but at more times of the day. It also requires a bit of intuitive thinking. With time you can learn to become self-aware of any creeping or sudden personality changes. Although it may sound exhausting, you won’t have to do it forever. Remember, we might have a lot of personalities but they are finite. It shouldn’t take more than a month to have a comprehensive road map of the inner workings of personality.
Integrating the Personality Mind Map for better Business Process Management
There are four pillars of continuous improvement in business: that is Capture, Share, Use, and Improve. This is exactly what you should do with your personality mapping to provide that extra dimension to business processing management.
Here are the main advantages to keeping track of the multifaceted “you” in your head:
- It can prevent you from taking unnecessary risks.
Say you are about to discuss something important and your personality wheel reveals that, actually, you’re in a pretty careless mood. That realisation could come back to haunt you later down the road. Unless, realising you are in such a mood, you take action to not be careless. Once we know what we are, we can work to change it.
- It can help you take advantage of a situation, and streamline productivity.
Are you feeling unusually boisterous, chatty, but also alert? Then maybe it’s time to have that important client call, or arrange that meeting. This is a point where those on the higher end of the spectrum have the advantage, because they can often utilise their multiplicity to thrive in the many different situations that work-life often throws up on an hourly basis.
- It can help you do the right thing for your business.
If you are feeling more disagreeable than usual - that’s not always a bad thing! Disagreeableness is a trait that cuts through the dangerous phenomenon of groupthink. It can give you the courage to say what’s on your mind, to identify a problem with your peers before it becomes an issue down the line.
In these instances, you are Capturing your personalities, and Using them to Improve your working environment.
As for Sharing, remember mind-mapping works better when you have a colleague helping you to do it, who can overrule a decision with their advantageous outside-in perspective. In this sense the personality wheel can be an invaluable team building exercise, allowing you to get to know your team members more, and work to identify and manage everyone’s multiplicity to the benefit of the business process.
And that’s it! A new dimension to the managing of workplace productivity, to encourage stronger ties between team members, discourage unnecessary risks, and enable growth.