One of our investors and mentors, John Fahlberg, is a retired executive who’s built and managed several companies, and has held executive posts with Target. Net: this guy’s got some time in the saddle.
He does executive coaching these days to keep active, and we’ve been fortunate to have him run several sessions with our team.
We did a standard Myers Briggs personality inventory early in our development, and he coached us through thinking about how to use the results to build a really strong team.
Extraverts: Talk – Think – Talk
One of the core concepts that he coaches us on was that extraverts (yours truly) often process ideas out loud and watch for cues from their colleagues that the ideas have or lack merit, and iterate accordingly. In other words, extraverts talk about a concept, watch for reactions, think about what they saw, and then talk more to iterate. It’s a very social process.
Introverts: Think – Talk – Think
Introverts, on the other hand, do that same processing internally. They think long and hard, using their intellect and their research to derive a conclusion. They think, then they share what they’ve thought about, and then they think some more based on the results.
Marrying the Two Styles for Strong Outcomes
Cue the obvious observation…. Most technical types are introverts. Many sales and business types are extraverts. There’s huge potential for miscommunication and stress.
When I (an extreme extravert), am working through a problem, I start brainstorming out loud to socially engage my team and find an answer. Chris, my CTO (an extreme introvert) is used to putting a lot of deep thought into something before communicating, so when he hears me list out several ideas, he assumes that I’ve already done a ton of diligence and am proposing a concrete list that we need to act on.
Clearly, this can cause friction. The extravert can’t believe that someone could work on an important concept without engaging deeply with the group to find an answer together. The introvert can’t believe that someone could put ideas on a board that haven’t been vetted deeply before being communicated.
What John taught us was for me to literally invoke the phrase “Talk Think Talk” to signal the beginning of a socialized thought process, and to give Chris room to breathe so that he doesn’t interpret the long and rapidly changing list of ideas as items that must be wedged into the development calendar.
This has unlocked a ton of power because it marries the strengths of the socialized creative process with the power of the rigorous scientific development process. While Chris and I are about as opposite as you can be on the introvert – extravert scale, this mechanism has allowed our proclivities to complement one another and build on each others’ strengths. It helps that we have a lot of common ground in our personal values and perspectives on building Windsor Circle, but we’re thankful for a technique that has unlocked a lot of great collaboration.