What makes configuration management (CM) professionals so unique? Is it the way we can view a complex task and break it down into meaningful activities? Is it the way we can bring some level of order to chaos? Is it that we not only want to understand the details on how things work, but we also like to understand the big picture? Is it our need to improve our environment? Or is it the way we persevere at difficult tasks in trying to bring together the pieces that comprise our deliverables?
This study was conducted as a means to identify if there are common traits amongst those professionals who work in the CM field. While some traits are derived from anecdotal evidence in discussions amongst CM professionals, this study seeks to identify a more precise characterization of personality traits using Myers Briggs types. Overall, this study is primarily an exploration to identify and raise awareness of common personality traits. It does not attempt to draw any grand conclusions and provides others with data points in which to continue further study in this area. With this in mind and a good boost by Neal Freeman who posted the question, “What kind of people are we?” to the CMCrossroads Forums, I began this study.
The tools of the study included:
· A simple survey which asked individuals to provide their Myers Briggs type. The survey included a link to the “Jung - Myers-Briggs typological test” found at http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes1.htm) although the results from any Myers-Briggs test was acceptable
· The “CMTALK” email group and “CMCrossroads” newsgroup. The survey was emailed to the CMTALK email group ([email protected]) and it was posted to the CMCrossroads newsgroup (see http://www.cmcrossroads.com) in the “Forums” section.
Overview of Myers-Briggs
“The development of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator required the imagination and drive of two very gifted women, Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. The original concept for the Type Indicator evolved from Katharine Cook Briggs's extensive studies of contemporary children's educational and social developmental theories. She combined these with the theories of the prominent psychologist Carl Jung to develop a testing method to help determine the best vocation for a child, what she saw as a key to their future happiness and well-being. She was joined in this effort by her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s as she began raising a family of her own.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator [MBTI] began life as the Briggs-Myers Type Indicator Test, which Katharine and Isabel constantly worked on further refining with the assistance of Edward Laney (a manager at The Pennsylvania Company who was the first to utilize and apply the MBTI concept to personnel management) under the auspices of Briggs-Myers Type Research, Inc. The name changed was to “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator” in the late 1940s.
From there it grew in several stages: in association with educational testing service during the late 1950’s and into the early 1960’s, later publication through the Consulting Psychologist Press, establishment of the Typology Lab at the University of Florida in conjunction with Dr. Mary H. McCaulley, and the Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT) in Gainesville, FL.” (University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries Special Collections, Isabel Briggs Myers Papers Manuscript Group 64 - http://web.uflib.ufl.edu/spec/manuscript/guides/Myers1.htm).
As a summary, the following is a brief overview of the specific Myers Briggs personality types. The Myers Briggs model of personality is based on examining 4 preference sets. The preference sets include:
· Introvert (I) or extrovert (E): Do you direct your energies outwardly with words (E) or inwardly with thoughts (I)? Do you gain energy in social settings (E) or in private or focused activities (I)?
· Sensing (S) or intuition (N): Are you interested in tangible facts and focus on the present (S) or are you more interested in the future, focusing on what might be (N)?
· Thinking (T) or feeling (F): Do you make decisions on logic and objective reasoning (T) or do you make decisions on personal values, subjective, and sympathetic reasoning (F)?
· Judging (J) or perceiving (P): Is your life organized in a structured way (J) or in a more flexible way (P)? Do you feel the need to conclude a task or make a decision (J) or do you prefer to find out more and keep your options open (P)?
Personality Types and Population Distribution
The above preferences combine to create a possibility of 16 personality types, known as the Myers Briggs Type Indicators® (MBTI®). Below is a chart that illustrates the 16 combinations or MBTI® and the percentage of the general population that has a specific personality type:
Chart 1: Myers Briggs Type Indicators® and General Population
An important factor to personality types may be to group Myers Briggs types by temperament. According to David Keirsey, each of the 16 MBTI® personality types are divided into one of four basic temperaments according to the following preference pairs:
Temperament Preference Pair
Keirsey’s Temperament Name
Other names for Temperament
Chart 2: Temperaments Definitions
The reason that Keirsey grouped them this way is that he believed that the 2 preference combinations may be drivers to understanding the motivation of a person. Temperaments do not replace types, but are built to reinforce and support them. A way to view all 16 MBTI® personality types in relation to their Temperament is to separate them into the 4 temperament quadrants which looks like the following:
Chart 3: Temperaments Quadrants
Key Questions It is the MBTI, temperament quadrants, and preferences that will be explored within this study. Specifically the questions that I hope to answer include:
· How are CM professionals spread across the 16 MBTI® personality types? Are we clustered into certain personality types? How do CM professionals compare with the general population as a percentage within each type?
· How are CM professionals spread across the Temperament Quadrants? Are we clustered into certain quadrants? How do CM professionals compare with the general population as a percentage within each quadrant?
· How are CM professionals spread across the specific preferences? Do we favor one preference over another?
I received 144 responses from CM professionals from across the world who provided me with their Myers Briggs personality types. This provided a good sample in which to work.
CM Professionals by Personality Type
The first measure uses the 144 responses and produces a count of how many CM professionals have specific MBTI®. This was then ranked according to which personality types were most prevalent amongst CM professionals. The following chart illustrates this:
Types Distribution by Percentage
The data indicates a surprising number (41 or 27% of the total sample) of CM professionals who have an INTJ personality type. Why might this be? Looking more closely at those who have an INTJ type may reveal why those people may either gravitate or thrive in a CM role. The thinking (T) and judging (J) preferences tend to drive them toward constant improvement. They believe everything has room for improvement. Also, their intuition (N) tends to enable them to see the potential in the future and the introverted nature (I) allows them to focus on improvements. In the CM world, there is always something to improve and having the vision to see what “can be” provides those in the INTJ grouping the motivation to make that improvement.
The data indicates another surprising number (24 or 17% of the total sample) of CM professionals who have an ENTJ personality type. Again, the thinking (T) and judging (J) preferences tend to drive them toward improvement. Also, their intuition (N) tends to enable them to see what can be. And their extroverted nature allows them to take control of the change due to their natural born leadership.
An interesting note is that even with 144 responses, not 1 CM professional had the personality type of ESFP. Beyond this, there was a good spread of types.
CM Professionals by Personality Type Compared to the General Population
The second measure illustrates how CM professionals are spread across the 16 Myers Briggs types (as a percentage) compared to the overall population. The distribution of the Myers Briggs types of the CM professional population does not align with the distribution of the Myers Briggs types of the overall population. Several significant differences can be seen.
According to these findings, the CM population has a tendency to have upwards of 28 times more INTJ types than the overall population (28% for CM professionals and 1% for overall population). Also ESFP and ESTP appear to be very uncommon in the CM population (0% and 1% respectively) compared to the overall population (13% and 13%, respectively). Note that the percentages of Myers Brigs types across the population vary from reference source to reference source. The percentages listed here are representative averages across the reference sources.
CM Professionals by Temperament and Compared to the General Population
More telling than the comparison of the population groups (overall vs. CM professionals) by Myer Briggs types, is the comparison of population by temperament (grouping of related types). Therefore, the third measure compares how CM professionals are spread across the 4 temperaments (as a percentage) in relation to the overall population.
There are a significant number of CM professionals expressing the NT or rational (and Mastermind) temperament (58% of CM professionals versus 8% of the overall population). Why might this be? In examining the traits of NT, the rational tends to value competence and intelligence, they strive to learn, grow and predict. They like to control their environment and have a tendency towards technology. Considering these traits and the trait needed to make a CM professional successful, it may be understandable why there are so many rationales within the CM field.
Inversely, very few CM professionals express the SP or artisan (and freelance) temperament in comparison to the overall population (3% of CM professionals vs. 40% overall). In examining the traits of SP, the artisan values freedom and spontaneity. They do not like constraints, are more impulsive, playful, and creative, and have a tendency toward the arts. Considering these traits and the traits favored to make a CM professional successful, it may be understandable why there are so few artisans within the CM field. Note: the percentages of temperaments across the population vary from reference source to reference source. The percentages listed here are representative averages across the reference sources.
CM Professionals by Preferences
The fourth measure focuses on the individual preferences of the 144 responses and examines if there is a leaning toward specific preferences. The outcome resulted in a strong propensity toward certain preferences. Overall there are surprising differences in the percentage of CM professionals expressing one type of preference over another. The following explores each preference set more thoroughly:
The sensing (S) or intuition (N) preference-set produced the most statistically meaningful difference. Seventy-eight percent (or 113 of 144) of CM professionals surveyed exhibited a proclivity of having an Intuition preference. This may imply that many CM professionals are forward thinking from the point that they are motivated by perceived improvements in the future and less focused on the existing conditions today.
The judging (J) or perceiving (P) preference-set also produced a meaningful difference. Seventy-six percent (or 109 of 144) of the CM professionals surveyed exhibited a leaning toward a Judging preference. This may imply that CM professionals gravitate toward jobs or tasks that ask them to establish a level of structure and provides them with a working environment where concluding tasks and making decisions are the norm. This may stem from the multitasking environment most CM professionals work where the completion of a task allows more focus on completing other tasks. The thinking (T) or feeling (F) preference-set again produced a meaningful difference. Seventy-two percent (or 103 of 144) of the CM professionals surveyed indicated the Thinking preference. This may imply that due to the relatively technical and procedural nature of CM work, the ability of making decisions using logic and objective reasoning attracts and keeps this type of person in the CM field.
The introvert (I) or extrovert (E) preference-set difference is not considered significant. Sixty-two percent (or 89 of 144) of the CM professionals surveyed exhibited a leaning toward the Introvert preference, although a fair number exhibited an outward extrovert preference. Since CM roles and responsibilities range from intensive focused technical tasks to external communication of plans and procedures, it may be appropriate to have a good balance of the two.
A conclusion drawn from the survey may indicate that if a person who has the individual preferences of introvert (I), intuition (N), thinking (T), judging (J) or more specifically the latter three preferences (NTJ) may be suited to work in the CM field based on this study.
To corroborate this, those CM professionals in this survey that indicated an INTJ accounted for 27% of the total responses. Combining this with those that have the ENTJ type (another 17%), then the NTJ grouping accounts for 44% of all responses. Given that these (INTJ and ENTJ) are only two of the sixteen possible types or 12.5% (of the 16 types), this is significant. To make this even more meaningful, consider that the general population has 7% INTJ and ENTJ types (from Chart 1 where INTJ = 1% and ENTJ = 6%). However, the CM professional population has 44% INTJ and ENTJ types. This is quite a dramatic difference. There is clearly some correlation between the type of work CM professionals perform and those who express NTJ preferences.
I would like to invite others to utilize or extend this study so that we can better understand the traits and needs of CM professionals. Lastly, I would like to extend a huge“Thank You!” to the 144 CM professionals who took the time out of their busy schedules to contribute their Myer Briggs types.
1. To read more on Isabel Briggs Myers, go to: http://www.capt.org/The_MBTI_Instrument/Isabel%20Myers.cfm
2. To read more on career and jobs that people may enjoy based on personality tendencies, go to: http://www.knowyourtype.com/career.html
4. “Please Understand Me" by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates, 1978, Prometheus Nemesis Book Co.
5. “Type Talk” by Otto Kroeger and Janet M. Thuesan, 1988, Dell Trade Paperback
®Myers Briggs Type Indicator and MBTI are registered trademarks of Consulting Psychologists Press Inc. Oxford Psychologists Press Ltd has exclusive rights to the trademark in the UK. ™MTR-i and Management Team Roles - Indicator are trademarks of S P Myers. S P Myers is no relation to Isabel Briggs-Myers.
Note: The author of this paper does not claim to be an expert in the field of Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®), temperaments, or any other personality type indicators.