Today, the cutting edge is becoming commonplace. We see the cutting edge in business through exponential growth in the utilization of automation, robotics, apps for our electronic devices, etc. We also see it in our own life such as text messaging while driving through voice recognition (so you don't take your hands off the steering wheel). What about electronics in your home that can be controlled remotely? Or watching your favorite TV shows on your phone from across the world?

The Birkman Method and the Cutting Edge

The Birkman Method and Cutting Edge? Aren't those contradictory? The Birkman Method personality assessment was created in the 1950s. That is hardly cutting edge. Maybe instead of completing a Birkman questionnaire on a computer, tablet or smartphone, now you can get your Birkman Method results from a DNA test? Maybe the Birkman Method is going to have robots explain your results instead of Birkman consultants like me?

No, that's not the cutting edge I am talking about. Let me clarify. The Birkman Method is a superior instrument in the 21st century just like it was in the 20th century. I am not aware of any robot Birkman consultants but who knows what the future holds? Birkman International has introduced a "cutting edge" product that adds another dimension to learning, and more importantly, the application of the Birkman Method results to the workplace. I will explain more a bit later in this article.

First, let me say that the Birkman Method has been a gift to me. I completed the questionnaire in 1985 and although I didn't know it right away, it helped me learn how to take advantage of some unique characteristics in my personality. How many former CPA auditors do you know that became a Teamwork Engineer and Leadership Coach and have provided coaching/facilitation of Birkman results for more than 30 years? I have been on a learning journey about the human personality and how leaders, teams and organization can be higher performing with the help of the Birkman Method. The journey continues and I have a lot more to learn.

I was lucky enough to get some guidance from the late Dr. Roger Birkman, the creator of the groundbreaking Birkman Method. Roger was a World War II air force pilot. His aircraft was shot down during combat. After seeing how each of the crew perceived what happened in a different way, he realized that there was value in understanding that our perceptions act as a filter to how we uniquely see our life and the world around us.

What differentiates the Birkman Method is that you get feedback on how you see yourself (your personality traits) as well as what you expect from most people. This helps you learn and grow to take advantage of your specific strengths in your workplace or personal life -- so you can apply it to real opportunities and challenges.

For example, my Birkman tells me that I prefer to take a non-confrontational approach to addressing differences with others. However, I expect others to be much more confrontational than me and be willing to confront me and disagree with me. I see myself as different than what I expect others to be like. I also have learned that when others are not willing to disagree with me, I either feel like I have to take control or I begin to test whether they can defend their approach. That is very powerful feedback and could help me and others understand how we can productively disagree utilizing our unique approaches while respecting each other needs.

Even though the Birkman Method has been around for 65 years, I am experiencing the cutting edge when it comes to The Birkman Method. I am fortunate to be on the front end of a new Birkman Method report called "Perspectives." I am one of only 8 Birkman consultants in the Houston area that have been certified in Perspectives so far -- probably less than 2% of Houston area Birkman consultants.

Birkman Perspectives

The Birkman Perspectives Report was designed by Lynn Greene of the Performance Enhancement Group and Birkman International. So far, I am seeing how it can provide guidance to an individual or team by helping answer the following:

Perspective #1: How distinctive are my behavioral characteristics compared to what I expect from others?

Perspective #2: How conventional or unconventional are my strengths compared to the statistical profile of what a typical person sees as their strengths?

Perspective #3: How positive or negative is my view of myself vs. my view of others?

Perspective #4: What are my expectations of others compared to the statistical profile of a typical person's expectations of others?

Some of this information was available in the Birkman Method before but very few had the keys to unlock the feedback in a way that could help you consider the questions above.

What's great about the Birkman Method is that in addition to the information in Perspectives, you can also understand the drivers of the information related to the above Perspectives. The Birkman explores 9 personality "Components" which can give you the key factors that are driving your Perspectives.

Birkman Perspectives Case Study

Consistent with Perspective 1, a CFO sees himself as fairly distinctive compared to others. He believes his ability to motivate his team to drive efficiency and teamwork sets him apart. However, he also finds that when he communicates with his peers on what is expected from a financial best practices standpoint, he gets frustrated when they don't follow through like he would.

We find by looking at his Birkman Components that he sees himself as very distinctive compared to others when it comes to being a straightforward, clear communicator, that stays rational during challenging times and focuses on the team being more important than the individuals.

We also see from his Birkman Components that the CFO does not see himself as distinctive compared to others as it relates to the execution of work. He is very insistent about the work process or plan and expects others to be just like him. He is very high energy, likes a fast, decisive pace and also expects others to be like him.

The Birkman Perspectives and the Birkman Components helped this CFO understand that he sees himself as highly distinctive in the way he communicates and motivates. The Birkman Components also helped him understand that he doesn't see himself as distinctive in other ways. He believes most people are going to approach the execution of work in the same manner as him (similar to others, not distinctive) which could be causing his frustration when people don't execute the plan like he would. A coaching discussion helped the CFO consider that it may not be reasonable to expect his peers to have the same approach to planning and execution as he does. He committed to spending more time with his peers to better understand their approach to planning and execution and how it may be different than what he would've expected.

Birkman Perspectives -- The Value in the Workplace

Since Perspectives is in its infancy stage, those of us early adopters are exploring how the workplace can best utilize this information to drive higher functioning teams that deliver better results.

There are many applications to the real challenges in the workplace. The following are some examples of what that value in the workplace might be:

Building Healthy, Collaborative Relationships with Peers -- such as in the case study above (that involved Perspective #1) to exercise greater financial discipline and drive an internal control environment that reduces financial risk.

Cross-Functional Initiative Leader -- better understand the unique characteristics of each team member to think in a conventional or unconventional manner (Perspective #2). The initiative leader could then deploy team members in a strategic manner depending on whether the problem will need a more conventional or unconventional solution.

Technical Genius, Interpersonal Shortcomings - a common challenge for coaching and development in technically driven organizations (engineers, geoscientists, medical, etc.) Discussing Perspective #3 could be helpful to this person in understanding how positive or negative their view and communication might be (about themselves vs. others) -- and how others may perceive them as a result.

Succession Planning -- a senior leader being promoted to an executive role (that will triple the number of people she becomes responsible for) could better tailor her transition approach. She could consider Perspective #4 -- are her expectations of others consistent with what common/typical expectations might be? What could she learn from that comparison and how could she apply that learning to her transition plan to an executive role?

Accessing a Birkman Perspectives Report

The Birkman Perspectives Report should be available for anyone who has completed the Birkman Method questionnaire in the last 15 years.

If you or someone in your organization completed the Birkman Method through me (and you want to access the Perspectives Report), please contact me to discuss.

If you or someone in your organization completed the Birkman Method through another Birkman certified resource (internal or external to your organization), then ask them if they are Perspectives certified or if/when he/she plans on becoming Perspectives certified. Either I or other Perspectives certified consultants would be happy to collaborate with your Birkman consultant until they become certified.

Mike Goodfriend is a Teamwork Engineer and, Leadership Coach. He is also the creator of the Teamwork Sharks and author of "Breakthrough Time" which is now available on Amazon or your favorite online book retailer. He is a Birkman Master Certified Professional (BMCP) and has been Birkman certified for more than 30 years. Mike Goodfriend can be reached at 713-789-6840 or via email at

© Goodfriend & Associates, Inc., 2017


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