The author of this paper will offer a fictional project team scenario and bridge in the Meyers Briggs frame work vis-a-vis teamwork as well as other important facets of what makes a good project team and what makes a bad one. The author of this response is using a fictional example so it can be best tailored to the topics being discussed and so that there is no concern about "dealing dirt" on someone else's struggles.
The fictional project scenario that shall be used will be a project that shall engage in the analysis and selection of a new enterprise resource planning solution. The author chose such a project because so many of those sort of projects end miserably (either before, during or after implementation) and a lot of the reason for that are people not working together properly and the Meyers Briggs framework certainly looms large on how that all plays out in most cases.
Meyers Briggs, of course, has four major dimensions that each assess the personality makeup of a person. There are two different ways that each dimension can fall. These four sets are introversion/extraversion (I and E), sensing / intuition (S and I), thinking/feeling (T and F) and judgment/perception (J and P). For example, an ESTJ is someone that is an extrovert, senses rather than uses intuition, thinks more than feels and judges rather than rely on perception. Additionally, there are people who have one or more dimensions that outweigh the other 2-3 sections of the framework and thus become dominant. For example, someone is very social and gregarious would be a dominant extrovert (MBF, 2012)
As far as how to parlay that into a project situation, there are no "one size fits all" or cookie-cutter solutions that make or break whether a project works. Indeed, the amount of people across the United States that fall into each framework is fairly disparate and random. There are sixteen different combinations of each Meyers Briggs outcome and not a single one of them exceeds fourteen percent at the top end of the estimated range. The two that do top out at that level are ISTJ and ISFJ (CAPT, 2012).
Even with there not being a uniform "best outcome," there are certainly trends that the author of this paper feels should be considered optimal and best overall for everyone involved. When speaking of people working on a team, introverts are not bad people but extroverts are better in the sense that they are much more inclined to be good at communication and will be much more eager to do so (at least most of the time) than an introvert. Similarly, someone who thinks rather than feels is better in a project environment because planning and choosing the best solutions needs to be based on real and verifiable data rather than. The third of the three more important dimensions is judging rather than perceiving. Judging a situation based on what is known and provable is much better than perceiving what is going on. In short, reacting to facts will always outstrip "going with your gut" (MBF, 2012)
To translate the four dimensions to an optimal project situation, the members of the team should talk to each other a lot and should be comfortable doing so. The roadblocks to that going smoothly are certainly not limited to extroversion vs. introversion, but this dichotomy is certainly a big part of it. Also, sensing should be preferable to intuition but neither is inherently bad. Thinking should absolutely be dominant to feeling (even if that goes against the MB profile for one or more members of the team) and judgments should outstrip perceptions (MBF, 2012).
In regular speak, team members within the ERP selection process should have an open dialog about who to choose and why (or why not), get a "sense" for why the solutions are workable (or why they are not), they should completely "think" through their decisions and their processes (rather than getting caught up in feelings and other matters not mundane to the situation) and they should effectively judge the results rather than relying solely on perceptions that might be wrong (MBF, 2012).
While personality types and predilections are important, there are other very important and serious implications that should be dealt with and considered. One major factor is the presence of a strong and clear leader. Even if the group is a party of equals, there is someone that needs to be the "decider" and that facilitates the overall process. This is not to say that the person should throw their weight around. Similarly, leaders acting like everyone on the team is lazy and beneath him/her (i.e. MacGregor's Theory X) is also not a good idea (Bogardus, 2009). At the same time, they should not lackadaisical or too casual about the gravity of what is being done. Leaders should cater to what the members want out of the team. Examples can include experience, increases relationships with major stakeholders, an eventual promotion and so forth. Instead of Theory X, managers should lean much more to Expectancy Theory and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (SimplyPsychology, 2012)(URI, 2012)
To translate this to the example, the leader should map out (WELL in advance) what the process will be, how it should be done and the leader should make it clear why things are being done this way and open up dialog to massage or adjust the overall approach so that it truly is a team effort and a team result. For an ERP selection project, the current state of affairs should be honestly and clearly defined, the desired outcomes and returns on investment for an ERP investment should be ascertained and then vendors should be sought out that fulfill all the needed requirements.
On a similar note, the research and evaluation needs to be thorough, completely and brutally honest. Absolutely nothing that does not have to be left to theory and presumption should be. Similarly, the project team would have to verify that any chosen vendor truly has the capability and motivation to offer a viable and complete solution to what is needed and/or what is wrong. Project members need to work together and verify what all needs to be done and then execute it.
The foundation for all of the above comes down to team member selection, and this is most important when speaking of the leader. Some people are inherently disposed to being leaders and others are better off as followers. This is not to say that followers cannot eventually become leaders (or even vice versa) but people's talents and traits need to be assessed for what they are and who is selected needs to be based on that. For example, someone who is not adept at ascertaining needs, specifications, parameters and requirements should not be leading the aforementioned ERP selection process because that would be an integral and necessary part of that process. Also, people that have clearly shown that they do not work well with others should not be a member of a team, a small one in particular. That is not to say that project members cannot leverage the assistance and input of people (coworkers or outside folks) that are exterior of the team, but the actual project team people need to be good at what they do.
Another key component is that people be fully engaged in the team and what it is doing. Members of an ERP selection project team are likely doing so in addition to other duties but those other duties should not be occurring at the expense of what is going on with the ERP selection process. If the prospective team member is not willing (or able) to provide what is needed for the team, then perhaps that person should not be selected because the team members need to be actively engaged at all times so as to ensure the best possible results.
The author of this paper has taken the Meyers Briggs test before and it was found that the author is an ISTJ. Even with being an introvert, the author realizes that working on a team (and especially leading it) requires that the author break out of that pattern of generally preferring/being introverted for the sake of proper teamwork and team engagement. The author is willing to be an effective leader or follower, depending on what is requested or required of the author.
As for the personal experiences that inform that perspective, the author would offer a few insights. First, feelings are certainly not irrelevant, but the reason that the author is so strident about feelings being the enemy a lot of the time is that feelings are not borne of hard facts and figures and that inherently means that they are not conducive and helpful to something like being a follower or a leader in a project team or process. Coming back, yet again, to the…