• Joel Hathaway

Is Some Information Worthless?

Updated: Jul 15, 2020

In order to launch a shuttle into space, the rocket requires numerous components. These include solid rocket boosters, an external fuel tank, and the orbiter. Once used, the largest of these components—the solid rocket booster and external tank—are jettisoned. They serve their purpose and are discarded.

Inherent in most academic degree curricula are components of study, learning, and integration that function like the external fuel tank and solid rocket booster. They serve to advance the student to another level of knowledge. And then they are discarded, actually or presumably.

In my world, seminary students study theology and ancient languages. Five years into their vocational placement, practitioners often reflect on the apparent irrelevance of information they were forced to memorize during degree acquisition. Specifically, dead-language paradigms, vogue (errant) theological movements, and historical dates and events. At least we all recognize there were elements of formal education that, due to neglect or apparent irrelevance, we have forgotten, jettisoned. However, this assessment as irrelevant is an incomplete assessment of the purpose of instruction. Instruction is intended to be formative more than informative.

Don’t let a bad experience with a behavioral inventory limit your ability to know what is necessary to reach an altitude of vocational orbit.

While there may be no certain way of determining what information can be jettisoned three, five, or ten years into a career—behavioral preferences often indicate the direction an individual will go in his or her area of specialization. The categorization of behavioral preferences lies in a well-crafted behavioral inventory, like the Myers Briggs (MBTI). When individual behavior is informed by a population dataset, what information and how that information will be used in a career becomes more predictable. By yourself, your preferences plus your education may tell you something useful. Combined with the composite results of a sound rubric and Galton’s collective intelligence, these can be a powerful driver toward vocational success.

Behavioral assessments often get a bad rap for being too easy to manipulate. Behavioral assessments, like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, can be manipulated. But it is worth asking, what are the conditions under which participants want to manipulate the outcome? In my experience, the desire to manipulate the outcomes of behavioral assessments is the result of a misuse of the results. When corporations or managers use assessment tools to limit or narrow vocational advancement, of course participants will want to manipulate the outcomes.

When participants view assessments as the opportunity to understand themselves better, the desire to manipulate diminishes. Instead, there is a reinforcing framework for understanding what type of knowledge and skills will best support the next stage of vocational development. A broad theological degree may get you space-borne, but behavioral assessment is the thruster to give confidence along a specific trajectory.

Don’t let a bad experience with the MBTI or any other behavioral inventory limit your ability to know what was necessary to reach an altitude of orbit. Consider taking the Form Q MBTI today.

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