March 29, 2006
Book short: Myers-Briggs Redux
Instinct: Tapping Your Entrepreneurial DNA to Achieve Your Business Goals, by Tom Harrison of Omnicom, is an ok book, although I wouldn’t rush out to buy it tomorrow. The author talks about five broad aspects of our personalities that influence how we operate in a business setting: Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. These traits are remarkably similar to those in the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator that so many executives have taken over the years.
It’s not just that you want to be high, high, high, high, and low in the Big 5. Harrison asserts that successful entrepreneurs need a balance of openness and conscientiousness in order to be receptive to new ideas, but be able finish what you start; a balance of extroversion and agreeableness so that you have enough energy but also have the ability to work with others; and not too much neuroticism, as you have to be able to take risks.
The book not only talks about how to spot these factors, but how to work around them if you don’t have them (that part is particularly useful, but he doesn’t do it for all five factors). He also talks about the entrepreneurial addiction to success, and creating the all-important Servant CEO culture, which I certainly agree with and wrote about early on in this blog in my “Who’s The Boss?” posting.
Harrison does have a great section on how “Nice Guys” can and should be winners; how being nice and having guts aren’t mutually exclusive, and he gives a well-written Twelve Rules for expressing the Nice Guy gene:
– Don’t walk on other people, but don’t let them walk on you
– Respect the big idea in everyone
– Own everything
– Never let ’em see you sweat Keep it simple
– Never think in terms of “So what have you done for me today?”
– More is less
– Live your word consistently
– Don’t lie: fix what’s causing you to think you need to lie
– Never forget to thank, congratulate, or acknowledge people for their efforts
– Keep your door and your heart open
– Never stand in the way of balance
The most annoying part of the book is that Harrison keeps making references to a handful of genetic studies about twins to prove on and off that traits are inherited and that inherited traits can be expressed in different ways. These references are mildly interesting, but they detract from the substance of the book.
Overall, the book has some interesting points in it, but it’s too much like Jim Collins’ Good to Great and Built to Last, only without the depth of business research and case studies. Plus, Harrison does the one thing I find most irritating in business books — he is clearly an expert in one thing (business), but he unnecessarily pretends to be an expert in another thing (genetics) in order to make his point.