Personality traits and tendencies can significantly impact individual decision-making, particularly in high-pressure situations. The planner personality, often characterised by a reliance on theoretical knowledge, detailed planning, and a need to be certain before making any decision, can clash with the impulsive personality, which prioritises action over careful consideration. While both personality types have advantages and disadvantages, understanding the implications of each approach and your own personality can lead to more informed decision-making in various contexts. Understanding the preferred approach of your team members can help you to be a better leader, delegating appropriately and guiding them more effectively.
Historical planning vs impulse
In the context of past wars, generals who relied heavily on theory and planning often found themselves facing off against more impulsive counterparts. During World War II, British General Bernard Law Montgomery, known as Monty, was known for his adaptability, focus on troop morale and quick decision-making. In contrast, German Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt was recognised for his adherence to traditional military doctrine and a preference for well-defined, detailed upfront planning.
In the lead-up to the Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944, Montgomery and von Rundstedt played crucial roles in their respective forces. Montgomery advocated for a narrower attack front during Operation Overlord, allowing for more effective use of resources and a quicker establishment of a secure beachhead. His approach prioritised flexibility and adaptability, contributing to the invasion's success.
On the other hand, von Rundstedt's strategy centred on a heavily fortified Atlantic Wall along the coastline, and a static defence, with the bulk of the German forces, concentrated at the coast. This rigid approach left little room for adaptation or flexibility in the face of unexpected developments.
During the Normandy invasion, Montgomery's ability to adjust his tactics and respond quickly to the situation proved advantageous. Meanwhile, von Rundstedt's inflexibility and slow response to the initial landings hindered the German defence. He hesitated to commit his reserve forces, believing the main Allied attack had yet to arrive.
Montgomery's adaptable approach ultimately helped the Allies establish a secure foothold in Normandy and break through the German defences. Von Rundstedt's rigid adherence to his preconceived plan led to a slow response and contributed to the success of the Allied invasion. This example demonstrates the advantages of flexibility and adaptability in military strategy and the potential drawbacks of relying too heavily on detailed upfront planning.
Modern business planning vs impulse
In a modern business context, planner personalities will frequently clash with more impulsive personalities. For example, in project management, the traditional waterfall approach may appeal to the former, emphasising upfront planning and detailed documentation. Impulsive personalities will consider this approach time-consuming and unsuited for complex, rapidly-evolving projects, especially those of a digital or technical nature.
An agile approach, with its emphasis on flexibility and adaptability, is more appealing to the impulsive personality. This approach may lead to quicker results, but the view of planner personalities is that it is less structured and insufficiently manages risks and budgets ahead of time.
A study by McKinsey & Company found that organisations that embraced agile methodologies were more likely to report higher project success rates and better overall performance. However, the study also noted that organisations must balance structure and flexibility to achieve the best results. This highlights the importance of understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each approach and finding a balance that works best for a given project.
From a psychological perspective, the planner personality is more likely to rely on logic and reason, with a more structured approach to problem-solving. They may be more comfortable with well-defined tasks and clear instructions and less comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty. This personality type may be more likely to require control and may struggle with delegation.
In contrast, the impulsive personality may be more likely to rely on intuition and gut feelings. They do not hesitate to act, even if unsure of the outcome. This personality type is more likely to embrace change and take risks to achieve their goals. However, they may also be prone to impulsive decisions that can lead to negative consequences.
It is important to note that both approaches can lead to successful outcomes, depending on the context and the individual's skill set. Recognising the strengths and limitations of each approach can help individuals and organisations make more informed decisions and improve their overall performance.
Individuals can adopt various measures to manage or mitigate the risks associated with each personality type. For those with a planning personality, emphasising the development of flexibility and adaptability in their approach can be beneficial. This may involve embracing new experiences and challenges and taking calculated risks to broaden their skill set. Enhancing risk assessment proficiency can help rapidly determine the potential likelihood and impact of risks, facilitating quicker decision-making when risk scores are low.
As for impulsive personalities, they can better manage and mitigate the risks of their approach by incorporating elements of structure and discipline in their decision-making process. Setting aside a little time for reflection and assessing potential consequences with a peer before taking action can help them make more informed choices.
Personality impact on innovation
In the context of innovation, an impulsive personality can be an asset when taking risks and experimenting with new ideas. The fail-fast strategy prioritises taking action and learning from failures as quickly as possible, enabling plans to be adjusted or pivot entirely to the winning design. In contrast, the planner personality may prioritise a more cautious, measured approach to innovation, focusing on detailed analysis and planning before taking action.
Relying too heavily on past knowledge and theories can lead to stagnation and an inability to keep up with more fast-paced competitors. This was seen in the struggles of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, who were slow to adapt to the rise of e-commerce. Many of these retailers had established business models that had worked for decades but failed to anticipate the disruption that online shopping would bring. In contrast, e-commerce companies such as Amazon were able to disrupt the market by taking risks and experimenting with new ideas.
However, when it comes to turning an innovation project into a commercial product, the planner personality may have the upper hand. The planner's methodical approach can help identify potential pitfalls and ensure the product aligns with market needs, increasing the chances of a successful launch. For example, a planner may conduct comprehensive market research and develop a well-thought-out go-to-market strategy, which can help minimise risks and maximise the chances of the product's success in the market.
These examples underline the importance of collaborative teams with diverse personalities and how this is highly beneficial to innovation. By leveraging the strengths of impulsive and planner personalities, organisations can harness the best of both approaches while mitigating their respective risks. A well-balanced team ensures that impulsive individuals drive rapid experimentation and foster a culture of learning from failing fast, while the planners provide the necessary structure and foresight to navigate potential challenges and mitigate risks. This synergy enables the team to adapt and innovate effectively, capitalising on opportunities as they arise. Furthermore, a diverse team encourages healthy debate, ensuring that various perspectives are considered before making critical decisions. Ultimately, fostering an environment where different personality types can thrive, collaborate, and contribute their unique strengths to the innovation process can greatly enhance an organisation's ability to create successful and market-ready products.