People Truly Predictable?
6 February 2009
Lewin is the co-founder of Four
Groups, a London-based software and
consulting firm. He works with major
companies to help enhance the relationship
between HR and the business, focusing in
particular on behaviour, relationships and
We discussed the idea that people-based issues can be managed
in a systematic and structured manner, something that Bruce is
firmly in support of. 4G represents a proprietary approach developed
by his company to understand and predict intangible aspects of
people's personality, interaction and values. However, our conversation
was not so much about 4G itself but about taking a holistic approach
and the how's and why's of it.
05 | January 2009
Strengthening Relationships by Building on Your EQ
The trick to managing people lies in defining them in terms of their
relationships and social or group culture. How do these elements
help us to understand people better? "We're really looking
here at understanding a person by looking at how they are processing
information," Bruce clarifies. "How they do so, gives
you an insight into their character and their approach and from
this, you are able to build up a profile, along with predicting
(new) or describing (existing) relationships and cultures. If you
look at the individual profile elements, you are really looking
at how people process information in terms of inputs and outputs.
is this best extracted? Through a questionnaire and a feedback session
and as you begin to work with these people, you start to put a picture
together, much like a puzzle, in
terms of where they stand themselves and in relation to others".
what happens when Peter and Jack can't seem to work together? What
do with this situation? According to Bruce, you will already know
that in advance. "If
you have no choice about the pairing up of these people in projects
then this approach is a great way to set expectations and help them
work better together," he explains. The profiling of people
in terms of behaviour and relationships takes place via a questionnaire
and a feedback sessions while workshops are a great place to go
through documentation and relevant material in more depth. In the
process, you begin to capture patterns of what's working and what's
not working for them.
argue that this offer of a predictive system for dealing with inherent
with the complexity of human behaviour is at most, generous and
optimistic; that we can't really see what it is that allows for
the nature and types of relationships and behaviours to be predicted
so easily. Bruce sees a different perspective - that we can indeed
predict, that there is a system and a methodology within which we
can make this happen. It's not certainty for sure but it's this
ability to predict that allows for the introduction of foresight.
"By understanding how people process information, you have
a dynamic way o f dealing with it. Inputs and outputs create a systematic
model which then leads to predictions," he argues.It's important
to note however, that this process doesn't help you identify whether
Peter has the financial experience and background for a particular
job specification, neither will it attempt to describe contextual
factors. That said, the process does help you identify optimal relationships
and best cultural fit, for example.
could question the risk level involved however. The risk of inaccurate
assessments as a result of your desire to, what some would say,
people truly predictable? Well, we can lower the risk of inaccuracy
more human interaction. Take a questionnaire for example. You pass
a prospective applicant a written questionnaire and you rely on
those answers exclusively. But if you do the questionnaire and then
follow up in person with a Q&A, you have the chance to clarify.
Arguably, the best way to strengthen this approach is falsifiability.
do this over and over and over. Prove, test and repeat. Results
prove the theory
and as a result, more value is placed on both approach and results.
It builds from
there, layer upon layer. In the workplace, this poses so much more
value than theoretical
positioning if only for the fact that execution in context brings
results which you can
assess and then use to help enhance your next decision.
Bruce Lewin works with major companies to help enhance the relationship
and the business. He also authors the Four Groups' blog, http://www.fourgroups.com.