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Using personality type differences to form engineering design teams

Using personality type differences to form engineering design teams

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vol.2 issue 2 2007
Using personality type differencesto form engineering design teams
Siu-Tse She, Stephe D. Prir, Athy S. White ad Mehmet Karamalu
This paper argues for the greater use ofpersonality type instruments such as theMyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) andthe Keirsey Temperament Sorter II (KTS II),when forming engineering design teams.Considering the importance of teamworkin all aspects of education and industry,it is surprising that few universities in theUK use personality type information whenforming design teams. This has led tomany courses not getting the best out oftheir students, and more importantly thestudents not getting the most out of theteamworking experience. Various teamformation methods are discussed and theirrelative strengths and weaknesses outlined.Normal personality type distributionsin base populations are presented andcompared with data from recent studies ofengineering students, and the link betweenengineering, design and creativity isdiscussed. The results of this study haveshown that the most important of the typepreferences is the Sensing-iNtuitive (S-N)scale, with its proven link to creativityand learning styles. It is concluded thatboth engineers and designers have muchin common, and a methodology of usingpersonality type choice sets to selectand form engineering design teams isproposed.
Placi idividuals it prductive teamsis e f the mst imprtat activities fay educatial r busiess evirmet.Hwever, it is als e f the least csideredcmpets. Much atteti has bee ive tselecti, perfrmace measuremet, retetiad prressi activities i the literature,but t little t the mst fudametal task fthem all - frmi the team. It is little wderthat educatial ad busiess evirmetsfte fail t et the best ut f their studetsad their emplyees, leadi t frustrati,recrimiatis, ad pr perfrmace. Thisfailure, cupled with the fact that lecturersi hiher educati are fidi themselvesuder icreasi pressure, has resulted irup frmati activities bei hit-ad-missat best, ad dmed t fail at wrst.
‘University teachers have accordingly found themselvesworking harder and at the same time being required to be more business-like and more accountable.’ (Ramsden, 2003).
Research questions
methdlies available?
wrk ad why?
desi teams, tha simply usi traditialradm selecti methds?
Team formation methods
There are may alterative methds availablet the idividual lecturer whe frmi aeieeri desi team. Each f thesemethds has advataes ad disadvataes;hwever mst are fatally flawed due t the factthat they d t csider the streths adweakesses f the idividuals ivlved adhw t structure the mix t et the ‘best’ ut fall team players. By ‘best’, we mea perfrmiat the idividual’s maximum utput. If eachidividual member f the rup is ive a rlewhich best suits their skills ad kwlede, adif the team is structured such that each rle iscvered, but t duplicated, the we believethat the team will perfrm t its maximumcapability. I di s, the team will prducethe best leari experiece fr the idividuals,ad als prduce the best utcme – desi,system r prttype.I brief, the chices i selecti team-basedrups after Race (2001) are:(a) Let the studets chse their w teams.(b) Use the alphabetical class rder i thereister.
education vol.2 issue 2 2007
(c) Use the uiversity studet umber cderder.(d) Select team members based  previusperfrmace.
(e) Select groups based on aheterogeneous mixture, i.e. sex, age,nationality, specialisation, etc.
(f) Select a team leader ad let them pick eadditial member i tur.() Select team members based  sitti rstadi psiti.(h) Select team members based  astrlical‘star si’ r mth f birth.
(i) Select team members based on theirPersonality Type and/or Learning Style.
(j) Issue cded labels t studets, wh thefrm rups based  the cdes.of these methds, the mst cmmly usedare (a), (b) ad (c). Allwi studets t frm their w teamsresults i frmatis based  friedships.Frieds rarely wrk well i a team situati –the relatiship is t csy, this d’t etde ad the atmsphere is t relaxed. Thismethd als teds t alieate peple based differeces i sex, ae, atiality, race,relii, disability ad scial status (as desmethd (f)). Methd (d) ca be used t placethe best studets i the tp (alpha) team adthe wrst studets i the bttm (zeta) team.This methd, whilst stimulati the bttmteam t perfrm r die, ca als have the effectf ivi the tp team a feeli f urealisticsuperirity (the Apll Sydrme) (Belbi,1981) with its may eative implicatis. Itis als bvius that yu eed histrical data,which is t available i Year 1 classes, temply this methd. Usi radm selectimethds such as (b), (c), (), (h) ad (j) willprduce averae results at best. The lymethds that will uaratee abve averaeresults are (e) ad (i). Hetereeus mixturesf studets usually perfrm well due ttheir bledi f expertise, experiece adperspectives. Hwever, eve apparetly well-balaced teams such as these smetimes failt perfrm due t  bvius reas.Clearly it wuld be helpful t the eieerilecturer t be able t uderstad thepersality, mtivati, streths adweakesses ad leari style f the studetsbefre frmi the team. This ca best beachieved by usi a questiaire styleistrumet t extract this ifrmati. Thetw mst ppular methds are by usiistrumets such as the Idex f LeariStyles (ILS) develped by Felder ad Slmai 1991 ad by usi the Myers-Bris TypeIdicatr, MBTI
develped by Myers-Brissme 50 years earlier. These tw mdels sharemay facets ad are cmplimetary i mayrespects. This article will ccetrate  theuse f the MBTI istrumet due t its wideprliferati ad its lare user base. Fr averview f Leari Styles please refer t theexcellet article by Felder & Bret (2005).
Belbin Team Roles
 As already metied, the wrk f Dr R.Meredith Belbi ad his team f researchersduri the 1970s were ifluetial i termsf uderstadi maaemet teams i abusiess setti. His wrk, ver ie years atthe Heley Maaemet Cllee, ivestiatihw teams fucti, culmiated with his theryf Team Rles. This thery is based  ieteam rles which ca be brke dw it:
 Action oriented roles:
Shaper, Implementer, and Completer Finisher.
People oriented roles:
Co-ordinator,Teamworker and Resource Investigator.
Cerebral roles:
Plant, Monitor Evaluator, andSpecialist.
This wrk has led t a series f busiessrietated bks ad the e-iterplace
sftwarepackae icrprati the Belbi Self-Percepti Ivetry (SPI) – a psychlicalprfili tl fr the idividual team member(Belbi Team Rles, 2007). There is a lt fverlap betwee the wrk f Belbi ad thatf Myers-Bris, hwever, i s far as theBelbi methd ccetrates  the wrld fcmmerce, we shall ccetrate  methdsprimarily fr the educatial setti.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
I its basic frm the Myers-Bris TypeIdicatr, MBTI
is a 93-item istrumet adthe mst widely kw psychlical typitl i use tday. It was estimated by Pitteer(1993) that ver 2 milli cpies were beisld aually i 1992. This has w rise t aestimated 3.5 milli aual sales wrldwide(oPP, 2007). The MBTI is available i mre tha21 lauaes.The MBTI has bee arud i e shape rather fr ver 60 years, ad has bee usedi a umber f ccupatial settis. n ther
vol.2 issue 2 2007
psychlical testi istrumet has beesubjected t as may tests f reliability advalidity (Myers & McCauley, 1985). Hwever,it is fair t say that it has detractrs as well assupprters (Mathews, 2004).Dulass Wilde, a Research Prfessr iDesi at Stafrd Uiversity, wh has usedthe pricipals f psychlical type with reatsuccess t frm eieeri desi teams verthe last 20 years, has stated that:
 About a hundred million people have used theMBTI, at least three-quarters of them agreed strongly with all four results. Just about everyone agrees with at least three. The other quarter  may find the MBTI preference clarity concept useful for understanding uncertainty, if not eliminating it.
(Wilde, 2003)
Historical developmentof the MBTI Instrument
The rts f type thery ca be tracedback t the tur f the 20th cetury adthe wrk f Carl gustav Ju (1875-1961),the Swiss psychiatrist ad ctemprary fSimud Freud ad Alfred Adler. Ju ad Adler disareed with Freud with reardst the imprtace f sexuality i causipsychlical prblems ad therefre splitwith him i 1912. Ju’s semial wrk,
Psychological Types
was published (i germa)i 1921 after almst twety years f practicalresearch wrk (Ju, 1971).I her excellet bk,
Gifts Differing,
thec-fuder f the MBTI, Isabel Bris Myers(1897-1980) describes hw, tether with hermther Katherie Cks Bris they extededJu’s thery f persality types, addi twimprtat aspects:[1] The existece ad rles f the auxiliaryprcesses.[2] The additi f the Judi (J) adPerceivi (P) preferece.Thus, Ju’s eiht pairs (2
) became theMyers-Bris 16 types (2
) (Myers & Myers,1995). As ca be see frm Fiure 1, thiscsists f fur dichtmies, the iteracti fthese, ivi the 16 idividual types, i.e. ISTJ,EnFP, etc. The abbreviatis i Fiure 1 areused thruhut the paper.The develpmet f the MBTI ad itsacceptace tk may years f hard wrkby Isabel Myers, herself, t a qualifiedpsychlist r statisticia. The spur fr thisdevelpmet was Wrld War II, where mstmales were called t serve i the US military,thus frci may wme it idustrial jbsfr which they were t familiar r eve wellsuited. Thus the rii f the MBTI dates frmthe summer f 1942, t qute Myers
“…to do something that might help people understandeach other and avoid destructive conflicts.”
(Myers & Myers, 1995)Thruhut the 40s, 50s ad 60s, Myerscllected ad develped a item pl fdata  persality type, maily usistudets frm schls ad cllees. Thefirst MBTI maual was published by theEducatial Testi Service i 1962. I 1975,the publicati f the MBTI was trasferred tCsulti Psychlists Press (CPP), withthe Ceter fr Applicatis i PsychlicalType (CAPT), raised as a service fr MBTIdevelpmet, research ad traii. TheCAPT maitais a research database f MBTIpublished wrks which curretly hlds ver9,700 recrds.The MBTI saw rapid rwth ad acceptacethruhut the 80s ad 90s ad has rwit a multi-milli pud idustry. The MBTIwas develped specifically as a tl fr the-psychiatric ppulati, ad is therefreiheretly bei. As a fudi priciple, e type is ay better r wrse tha ay therad the testee has the fial say as t his rher type desiati.
Figure 1.
The MBTIdichtmus pairs

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