OKA’s Type Development Series—Volume 1: The Value of Thinking

OKA’s Focus is Type Development

Too much energy is devoted to simple MBTI testing and not enough to individual Type validation—independent of what the assessment reports, what is your true Type?  But less energy still is spent on the most important effort at hand, which is the development of my Type—in light of my preferences, how do I gain greater awareness and then even comfort and skill with all the functions—even those I don’t prefer?

OKA’s primary focus regarding Type has become training and supporting the development of Type—not only discovering what your Type is but how you can be more effective in your life, work and relationships using Type.

What is Type Development?

Jung said that Sensing tells us that something IS, Thinking tells us WHAT it is, Feeling gives it value, and iNtuition gives it meaning.

So much surrounding Type emphasizes the preference for one end of a dichotomy over its opposite, but Type theory is actually a holistic theory of human cognitive development that illuminates the path we are each most likely to follow as we experience, develop, and ultimately build toward comfort and skill with all four cognitive functions (S, N, T and F). Type theory suggests that our Type preferences are hard-wired and unchanging, but our Type development—the degree to which we can access and the skill with which we use all the elements of Type—is continually changing, and hopefully increasing.

Sometimes an individual or organization’s Type development—good or bad—leads to predictable outcomes and observable behaviors that can signify Type development successes and challenges. It is important to note the positive—indeed essential—qualities for effective individual and organizational life that each function provides. Sometimes the underdevelopment of a function can block us from even seeing the value or even the existence of that function. A great first step in any Type development effort is to establish the existence and the value of each of the functions and their respective, unique contributions.

What is the value of Thinking?

The Thinking function helps us to impersonally analyze cause and effect, including all the consequences of the alternative solutions, both desirable and undesirable. It helps us to consider the full costs involved and to examine the misgivings we may have suppressed because of loyalties, personal attachments, or reluctance to change our stand. Thinking is logical, reasonable, critical, impersonal, and tough.

Individuals with well-developed Thinking tend to be:

  • Problem solvers, who readily analyze issues for solutions
  • Fair, logical and objective
  • Effective conflict managers, expecting or even inviting conflict but harnessing its power and learning from it
  • Clear and organized decision makers
  • Driven to be right

Organizations with well-developed Thinking tend to have:

  • Efficient processes and controlled work flows
  • Fair and consistent client and personnel policies
  • Clear communication of decisions and procedures
  • A shared intellectual drive—a striving to know and be “right”
  • A rewards structure emphasizing clear, objective decision making, intellectual achievement and accountability
  • A task and results focus

Individuals with under-developed Thinking tend to be:

  • Overly or arbitrarily critical
  • Indecisive
  • Unconcerned with their own ignorance
  • Unable or reluctant to weigh and analyze data
  • Disorganized in their thinking and problem solving
  • Unable or unwilling to disassociate issues or problems from self

Organizations with under-developed Thinking tend to have:

  • Illogical, inconsistent decisions, policies, and/or product decisions
  • No reward/punishment system that emphasizes accountability
  • General task accomplishment and business system disorganization
  • Wrong, ineffective, or unintelligent solutions to client needs or product and service offerings
  • Inability or unwillingness to learn from feedback, experiences or mistakes, seeing all as reminders of shame rather than opportunities to learn and develop

How to access or exercise the Thinking function:

  • Weigh the costs and benefits of possible actions in a detached, objective manner
  • Play the scientist who examines the consequences of behavior without any personal attachment to the outcome
  • Critique or edit something for precision and clarity
  • Solve a word or numbers puzzle
  • Think through the logical steps of an argument
  • Develop a hypothesis for how something (machine, system, process) works
  • Logically argue or debate a point with someone
  • Organize (bring order and control) to something
  • Critique someone to make their effort more clear, effective, and precise

Next Steps:

To learn more about Type Development and the willful activation of all your type preferences, take OKA’s Type Development for the Professional Practitioner. OKA’s new experiential two-day course, designed and delivered by Hile Rutledge, is perfect for anyone interested in putting Type or the MBTI to practical use. In addition, in the spring of 2014 OKA will publish Hile Rutledge’s new Type Development Workbook, the latest in OKA’s series of trainer and practitioner support tools.


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4 Responses

  1. Shelley Reinhart says:

    Hile, thank you. I so often feel “trapped” by my type preferences, “stuck” in my ENFP behaviors. I want to grow, to develop and exercise my non-dominant functions, but don’t practically know HOW to do so. This post is my homework assignment. This week I will think like a scientist. I am excited to try.

  2. Robert Nolan says:

    Hile: This is a great subject and I look forward to seeing your new workbook. Will you be letting us know when it’s available? Thanks again, Robert

  3. Thanks so much for bringing the focus of type back toward type development! I, like most people, hate being stuck in one of sixteen boxes….
    I noticed, however, that you are sticking with four functions (S, N, T, and F) rather than the 8 functions or types as described by Carl Jung. I am concerned that by doing so, you will confound the introverted and extraverted forms of each of the functions. For example, much of the behavior described in your T article was more closely attributable to Extraverted Thinking than Introverted Thinking (e.g. “Efficient processes and controlled work flows”), while many of the developmental activities you provided actually focus on Introverted Thinking (e.g. “Critique or edit something for precision and clarity.”).
    I know that separating out the extraverted and introverted forms of the functions increases the complexity of teaching type development, so I can appreciate the drive to do so, but I am also aware of the loss of clarity that comes from merging distinctly different functions. Of course, my Introverted Thinking demands that clarity be the goal….

  4. Mark Leheney says:

    Hi, Hile. Thanks for another great post.

    When I “think” about Thinking one thing that comes up is the heavy representation of it (and Judging) in leadership. It seems like many leaders believe the business case is or should be enough to engage and motivate employees.

    However, accessing Feeling may reveal some otherwise hidden posibilities around connecting with people, particularly during change — listening to their concerns, discussing the personal impact of organizational change, and relating to and with people as a more balanced way to gain commitment and connection.

    When groups do exercises around the traits they most value in effective leadership, most of the list tilts toward Feeling. That is not to take anything away from the good role of Thinking, too. But balance in all things.

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