Ahmed Khan, a contributor to PMI Career Central, an official PMI group on LinkedIn, raised the following question:
As might be expected, this resulted in a hotly debated exchange as to the appropriateness and usefulness of the MBTI personality typology process for assessing and dealing with the members of a project team. Or for dealing with anyone else for that matter.
Some respondents alleged that the use of the tool is unethical, even illegal in many cases. Others took the opposite view that the more you are informed about the members of your team the better you will know how to react to their needs. Still others suggested that given the range of peoples' preferences in different directions and at different times and under different circumstances, it is unrealistic and unhelpful to pigeonhole individuals into a mere sixteen types. However, at the end of the day, the MBTI tool is most intended for a "self-assessment" administered by a "professional" third party working on consulting fees.
Nevertheless, most people are happy to take the test when invited, for the information that it can reveal about themselves, and equally happy to reveal the result when asked. The test may not be perfect, but in the context of project management there does tend to be a strong correlation between MBTI results and respective project management "comfort zones".
In the meantime, contributor/author Constantine Kortesis offered the following thoughts from his forty or more years of working experience.
1. Myers Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI® is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. These preferences were extrapolated from the typological theories proposed by Carl Gustav Jung and first published in his 1921 book Psychological Types (English edition, 1923). Jung theorized that there are four principal psychological functions by which we experience the world: sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking. One of these four functions is dominant most of the time. In other words, that one represents the person's natural comfort zone. That is not to say that a person cannot operate in a different zone.
2. The MBTI is made up of four opposite pairs and, of course, the pairs represent ranges and not absolute numbers. Have you ever gone into a paint shop and marveled at the number of paint chips of different colors and shades? Each one is carefully numbered for reference and reproduction but that does not negate the fact that colors and shades are actually continuous spectrums.
3. For more on this aspect, see Project Teamwork, Personality Profiles and the Population at Large: Do we have enough of the right kind of people?