The Quinn model
The Octogram® is loosely based on the original work of Quinn and Rohrbaugh (1983). Quinn and Rohrbaugh conducted a study of what perceived qualities are possessed by effective organizations.
Quinn and Rohrbaugh created a comprehensive list of indicators and then asked a large group of people to fill in a questionnaire based on that list. After the results were analyzed, two dimensions emerged that seemed to influence a company's success. The first dimension was related to focus: internal vs. external. The second dimension illustrates the preference for structure: flexibility vs. control. When placed together, these two dimensions created a grid:
Quinn later went on to define each of the quadrants created by this model and called it the Competing Values Framework.
You can see from the orientation on the graphic that these values pull in different directions. It is difficult to Innovate and be open to new ideas (Open Systems) while at the same time trying to maintain stability and control (Internal Process). It is difficult to focus on the bottom line and drive productivity (Rational Goals) while at the same time keeping your workforce happy and fulfilled (Human Relations). The Competing Values Framework illustrates how these drives and goals conflict with one another. The most difficult part of being a manager is recognizing that all of these values are important for an organization and must be balanced.
Quinn later expanded this model by dividing each quadrant into two roles. In his book Beyond Rational Management: Mastering the Paradoxes and Competing Demands of High Performance. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Quinn, 1988) he describes each of these roles and how they interact in the workplace. His theory is that an effective manager must be able to perform well in all 8 roles.
- In the human relations model: The “facilitator” encourages teamwork and cohesiveness, and manages interpersonal conflict. The “mentor” is helpful and approachable, and engages in the development of people through a caring, empathetic orientation.
- In the open systems model: The “innovator” is creative and facilitates adaptation and change. The “broker” is politically astute, persuasive, influential, and powerful, and is particularly concerned with maintaining the organization's external legitimacy and obtaining external resources.
- In the rational goal model: The “producer” is task-oriented and work-focused, and motivates members to increase production and to accomplish stated goals. The “director” engages in planning and goal setting, sets objectives and establishes clear expectations.
- In the internal process model: The “coordinator” maintains structure, schedules, organizes and coordinates staff efforts, and attends to logistical and housekeeping issues. The “monitor” checks on performance and handles paperwork (Quinn, 1988).
There have been quite a few questionnaires and personality trait inventories over the years seeking to quantify this hypothetical model in a scientific, rational way. In 1999, André Tjoa and Bert Goos began constructing a questionnaire to measure the personality traits underpinning each of these roles. The Octogram test began as a questionnaire consisting of over 200 items. This list of statements was given to over 300 people with a range of educational and career backgrounds. A careful item analysis reduced the questionnaire to 144 statements that accurately measure each of the 8 roles.
Part of the process for creating the Octogram resulted in renaming the roles as described by Quinn. These new names better reflect the psychological trait being measured. There is a close association with the Competing Values Framework, but it is not exact.
Here is a description of what each of these traits mean:
- Pioneers are the renewers, dreamers, and champions of innovation. Pioneers are focused on generating fresh ideas. This trait describes your “need for new” in the workplace. In the Competing Values Framework, this is called the “innovator” role. You are required to act in this role when dealing with change or in a position that requires open-ended creativity.
- Networkers are always building new contacts and maintaining those contacts. The Networker score is a look at how comfortable you are in communicating with (and convincing) others. In the Competing Values Framework, this is called the “broker” role. You are required to act in this role when building a power base, negotiating agreements, or selling ideas.
- Achievers have a need to accomplish and gain personal recognition for those accomplishments (this recognition is not always financial). Achievers are strongly market (externally) oriented and focus on the customer. In the Competing Values Framework, this is called the “producer” role. This role deals with motivation, persistence, energy, and productivity.
- Strategists are the long term thinkers and planners of an organization (goal-focused creativity). Strategists work toward planning for the future, setting goals and targets, planning, and delegating. In the Competing Values Framework, this is called the “director” role. This role is most closely aligned with traditional managerial roles such as setting tasks and communicating those tasks to others.
- Anchors are focused on creating structure and continuity. They are the people in the organization that write the documentation and build systems that reduce chaos and disorder. In the Competing Values Framework, this is called the “coordinator” role. Anchors deal with maintaining, organizing, and handling details.
- Analysts seek to break problems apart and weigh alternatives. These are the people in the organization who are commonly referred to as “the voice of reason”. In the Competing Values Framework, this is called the “monitor” role. Analysts deal with the facts, focus on being rational, assess risks, and strive to be objective (try to keep those over-enthusiastic emotional networkers in check).
- Team Players are the binding elements in your company; they keep people working together and keep the atmosphere upbeat and supportive. In the Competing Values Framework, this is called the “facilitator” role. Team Players are focused on building consensus, team harmony, and conflict management.
- Helpers are understanding and take the time to listen to others. They have insight into the feelings and lives of others. Helpers understand the art of supporting the emotional well-being of other people. In the Competing Values Framework, this is called the “mentor” role. Helpers work to improve communication, develop others, and help others achieve their full potential. Whereas a Team Player is more focused on the group, a Helper is more focused on individuals.
Continue reading: Why this is a good test.