Brad Stevens : Austin, TX

THE MASTERMIND
... Living a life as a Myers Briggs INTJ

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Sitting in corporate meetings sometimes drives me friggin nuts (did you happen to discern that almost unnoticeable change to first person?) People spend a staggering amount of time processing information and playing the politically correct game trying to save someone's feelings. Those actions drive an INTJ insane.

When an idea is presented in a corporate meeting, I usually know what I like and dislike about it immediately; that is, if I am educated on the subject at hand. If not, I shut up until I can provide input. Furthermore, I have no trouble whatsoever conveying my opinion on matters.  Most personality types need to sit around and "mull-over" an idea before reaching a conclusion. Most will arrive at somewhat the same position as I ... however, they just take longer processing the full spectrum of information. What works best for me is if I sit back and let people talk about the merits and weaknesses of ideas until enough time has elapsed for others to digest and begin reaching conclusions. Admittedly, I have yet to master the art of knowing when that time has arrived before opening my trap.

Most personality types also find the need to make sure that someone's idea is handled in a 'politically-correct' method. This also drives me friggin nuts and I have some very strong feelings about the subject. Because managers wanted to 'save-feelings', I've been a witness to bad ideas being implemented and subsequently costing others their jobs because of the negative impact the decision made on the business over time ... all because some feel-good manager felt the need to save the feelings of one person with an idea that wasn't properly vetted.

Over the years, I have attempted to create environments where people are comfortable with dissent.  Sometimes I like to throw out a completely stupid idea in hopes that someone will pounce on it and call it such ... to which I'll subsequently happily agree in hopes of setting a tone for the rest of the meeting that it is ok to disagree with ideas and positions. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not.

Now, don't get me wrong. When one is handling a meeting with the entire staff, yes, one does want to handle things with kid-gloves. But, those are not the kind of meetings I'm talking about. The meetings I'm speaking of are management meetings where decisions need to be made regarding issues that may determine the future direction of the company.

In my opinion, if one can't hold their own and support their idea ... and, the person is going to take things personally, then they have no business being in management. If one is going to open their trap, then they had better be able to vigorously support the idea with reason and logic. As well, if one lets bad ideas pass without voicing dissent because of worry about someone's feelings, then someone needs to be an Indian and not a chief.

I find most good ideas lead to a thriving business and bad ideas sometimes cost people their jobs ... it's that simple. I dunno ... I guess I am just bewildered by people who want to be in management but then walk away from a management meeting with their feelings hurt. In those cases, I tend to feel sorry for that particular manager's staff for having a pansy-ass for a manager.
For God's sakes, it's a business ... were not playing with tinker toys!

I've been involved with several different types of organizations. For example, I've been in management within an organization that had a very strong management staff. When we met behind closed doors, people threw out ideas and everyone ruthlessly attacked it ... the merits ... the weaknesses ... everything was open game, except for the individual.  Individuals were never attacked ... but, ideas were open game. The meetings were remarkable. Ideas were conveyed, digested, analyzed, dissected and decisions were made within a few minutes. What's more, everyone around the table was *expected* to voice their opinion ... and damn-it, it had better be a well-thought-out, strong opinion on the matter, or you were not invited back to the next meeting. We always advanced the business during those meetings and everyone left the meetings invigorated from the experience but also feeling brain dead from the need to think on their feet at a moments notice. Ah, yes! The business thrived, and it was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life.

I've also been in management in organizations with weak management staffs. Within these organizations, I wouldn't exactly say that the management staff had the ability to strongly voice opinions without somebody feeling like they have been <insert diminishing feeling of choice here>.

That all being said, within all organizations, there are always people who can hold their own and have the ability to voice opinions and support the same. I worked with one person that was particularly invigorating to talk to. We chatted about a variety of subjects every so often. I could present an idea to the person can she had no hesitation in looking me square in the eye and say "I don't like it"! <chuckle> Then, the person proceeded to logically tell me the merits and faults of my position on the given matter. Although I sometimes did not agree with her, the person's arguments always had a logical application of value. We could banter back and forth and the person held their own. Sometimes we agreed, sometimes not. But, the person was confident of their position and ideas. I usually left this person's office feeling that I had more information to digest. I felt challenged and I loved it.

By now, perhaps readers of this article (that are not INTJ's) are thinking that I am the most arrogant son-of-a-bitch on the planet. By way of their own personality types, I can truly see how they could reach that conclusion. Many will probably interpret these writings to say that I think my particular ideas are God's gift to the world.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I simply wish that most others were able to support their ideas with the same tenacity. I believe that my ideas certainly have value, but they may not be the answer to the issue at hand. I will stand up and support my ideas with sounds reasoning and logic. Some others do not ... they just let them slide. What concerns me most is when ideas are not fully vetted because people are worried about hurting someone else's feelings. In my opinion, a business just does not have time for that. Furthermore, I believe management owes it to the staff to make sure that ideas are properly vetted before being put into action. Hell, people's livelihoods are sometimes in the balance. [NEXT - TO PAGE 3]

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Copyright 2000 BRAD STEVENS all rights reserved worldwide
Austin, Texas