In this Teamwork 9.0 book talk, I provide an overview of the book and some of the back story that led me to the discoveries about teamwork that I share in the book. I recorded this prior to a talk I gave to my Provisors group.
I am very grateful to the support I have received over the years from the amazing group of Provisors professionals. Writing a book is truly a team effort and my Provisors group was there for me on this journey. Prior to publishing, I deliberately had someone of each Enneagram type review the book. From my Provisors group, Adrian Bray reviewed the book from the Type 2 perspective and Stephen Dobrow from the Type 8 perspective. Thanks to them, to the those from my group who attended the book talk, and to everyone who is supporting me on my Teamwork 9.0 journey.
Hello, and thank you so much for having me speak with you today. I really appreciate it. And I’m so glad to be speaking with all of my ProVisor friends. First like to do a couple of thank you’s. Making this book was a real team effort for me. And I really tried to embrace a lot of the concepts that I talk about in the book in terms of including a lot of different perspectives. And in the review process of the book, I actually intentionally had one of every Enneagram type review the book and a couple of the reviewers are actually members of our ProVisor group. And so I’d like to give a big thank you to Adrian Bray, who reviewed the book from the type two perspective and also Stephen Dobro who reviewed the book from the type eight perspective.
And I also just want to thank Steven, especially when I gave him the book. He actually made a version of the book and printed it on a T-shirt. So this is the T-shirt that he made for me. And this is actually the book printed on a T-shirt. So if you want the book in the T-shirt format definitely talk to Steven about that because he may be able to get those for you.
Today I just wanted to give you a taste for what’s in the book and then what got me to this. And as many of you know, I started off my career as an engineer, so I was trained to lead electrons, not people. And so about 10 years into my career, my boss came to me and said, “Matt, we want you to become a manager.” And I’m, “Why do you want me to become a manager? I don’t know anything about leading people, I only know about leading electrons.” And he said, don’t worry, you’ll be fine. Well, knowing me, and I’m a type six, I wasn’t fine. I was worried. And like any engineer I took to studying the problem, I got my hands on every single book on leadership and management and teams that I can get my hands on and read those.
And as I was going through that, one of the things that I came across along the way was this thing called the Enneagram. And I’d been exposed by the time I got to the Enneagram, I’d been exposed to a few other systems like Myers-Briggs and Disc. And one of the things that intrigued me about this system was this concept of time. There was an element of time built into it. And because of that, and the fact that it wasn’t a static system, it really appealed to me and got me more curious and got me on this path of exploring it. And no matter how much I tried to take it apart and put it back together, it really held up. And that’s what compelled me to end up writing the book. I discovered some novel ways to use it and that weren’t being talked about that had to do with that element of time in the system.
And so that’s what I wrote teamwork about. So let me just explain a little bit about the Enneagram. So I think many people know of it as a personality system and that’s how most of us are introduced to it. What I learned though, is that it’s actually a lot more than just a personality system, but you know, most people are introduced to it as these nine different personality types. And you could see in the middle, there are these lines and those are called the paths of integration and disintegration. And this is one of the things that really fascinated me about this system, because it does speak to this element of how we change over time, depending on our maturity level and our security level. So as we evolve, we become more integrated, but as we enter into times of stress and insecurity, we can become disintegrated.
And each type is connected to these lines, two different lines. One that goes for a six, one goes to the nine in integration and the other goes to the three in disintegration. And so this non-static way of looking at people, I think really spoke to me and spoke to this sense of, well, I’m not just one person. I behave differently in different situations and the Enneagram really speaks well to that. Well, there’s another element of time that fascinated me. And that was the element of time around the circle in the clockwise direction. And I came to this by asking a question, why are they numbers? Why are they these types numbers rather than colors or animals or something like that. And why are they then in this particular order, why is the one, the one, the two, the two and not, couldn’t the seven be the two or the six be the eight, or, and it turned out as I studied this, that they are numbers because they are in a particular order.
And it’s the order in which humans solve problems. And that was the big discovery for me that got me on the path of really wanting to use the system more with teams and using the Enneagram as a problem solving method with teams and that worked so well that I was [inaudible 00:06:59] to write the book. And so… As I’ve develop this method, I’ve had the opportunity to explain it and I’ve created this story essentially about a Medieval village that is beset by these fire-breathing dragons. And the story talks about the different steps that the villagers go through to solve the problem. And when I first did this storyboard in the nine steps, I had the villagers actually killing the dragon to solve the problem. However, one time I was invited to speak with a group of students at San Francisco State University.
And the theme for their year long course was non violent activism and social policy. And I was like, thinking, well, I probably don’t want to do have the villagers killing the dragon. Maybe there’s a nonviolent way to solve this problem. And so I changed the story for this group, and I ended up having the villagers learn to live along with the dragons and actually learn to fly them. And when I was young, I read The Dragonriders of Pern, so I thought that was a nice little twist to it, but that storyline came out of that, having to present these ideas to that particular group of students, and so this was kind of the big idea in the book that I really wanted to share with the world is this idea that, yes, the Enneagram is a fantastic way of looking at different interpersonal dynamics and with the nine personality dynamics that the Enneagram talks about, but you can also overlay those nine dynamics onto a problem solving process.
And once you do that, then you say, wow, you have a personality dynamic that is perfectly suited for a step in problem solving. So, what does that make possible? What can you do with that? And so, one of the things that comes out of this is this concept of shared leadership, right? Because as your team is working through problem solving, depending on the step you’re in, there will be a dynamic that is a really great at that particular step. So why not let that dynamic really come out and flourish in that step and allow them to essentially take the leadership role in while you’re engaged in that particular step in problem solving. So you get this concept of passing the baton through your teammates, as you move around the different steps in problem solving. And another question that I get is, “Well, I don’t have a team that has all nine types.” Our team has five people on them and two of them are those darn sixes. So, we really don’t have all those types represented.”
And so that the Enneagram actually provides an answer for that as well. And I talk about that in terms of your personal path of growth, because as you grow and go on this, your personal path of growth, you’re able to not only access the types that are on that path of growth represented in any ground by your path of integration. So for instance, for the six, the path of integration is towards the nine. So as I become more secure, then I’m able to more able access the dynamics of type nine. But as you master your ability to kind of live in that area, along your path of growth.
So for me, it would be like living in that nine space. What I found is that allows me to access all the other types. So you’re able to better and better access all the types as you are as you grow. And so that’s what I talk about in the book is each type’s personal path of growth and then how they’re able to access those. Now, there’s going to be more or less ease of access to the other types, depending on your type, some types are going to be harder than others. For instance, for the six, I find the seven dynamic particularly hard to access though when I’m in nine, I’ve easier time accessing it, but it’s still hard. And so, if I really need to do a seven activity, then I want to partner with somebody who’s a seven.
And so it talks about making sure, we appreciate all these others or dynamics and then pull in help when we need it. You know that’s, that’s the thing. And the other thing is that if you don’t… if you have a team that doesn’t have all the types represented, well, if you’re using a problem solving framework and you know, we will need to go through these nine steps, we don’t want to skip the steps because we skip the steps, we’re going to have a problem. We don’t want to spend too much time in any one step, because then we’re going to have a problem and slow down, but we’ll go through each of the steps. And as you go through the steps, you will force yourself to be in that, that space at least for a while, so that you’re not skipping it. And that’s the other nice thing about using a problem solving framework as you work through problem solving.
Well, so now we’ve talked a lot about the path of integration, but what about the path of disintegration? What does that give you in problem solving? And so I talk about that in my chapter on creativity. And you can use this idea of moving along your path of disintegration as kind of a creative engine for driving innovation. So what does that mean? Well, you’ve heard of that phrase. “Mother is,”… excuse me. “Necessity is the mother of invention.” So, necessity essentially is putting you in your insecure state, right? So you’re moving along your path of disintegration into insecurity.
And that is putting you into a state where you’re starting to look out for how to resolve whatever issue is putting you into that state. And then as you start to make progress on that, you move back along your path of, towards integration. And then, and you have this kind of oscillating motion back and forth between integration and disintegration that drives that creativity in each of the types. And each Enneagram type has a distinct creative characteristic or creative energy that is important at each one of those steps in problem solving. And so that’s what I talk about in the relationship between creativity and problem solving and how the Enneagram can help us understand those different dynamics.
Another really interesting thing that came out of thinking about the relationship between Enneagram and teams is how each Enneagram type thinks about time and their perspective on time and the thing that got me thinking about this is when I was having conversations with say Enneagram type two, I would find that the conversations tended towards more reminiscing. They’d be talking about these feeling rich experiences that they had with friends like camping trips or fishing trips, or something where they were with friends and having a good time. And then they were kind of reminiscing about those feelings that they had. And I just thought, wow, these conversations are so different. And the conversations that I have with my type six friends, which are more about the future and thinking about all the different things that could happen and doing scenario planning and just thinking about the future.
And, then I started thinking, wow, each type, based on their focus has a different place along that mental energy timeline. That’s what I ended up calling it, some in the past, some in the future and some right in the middle and those are right in the present. And so then I actually plotted that out through problem solving saying, “Okay, well, you start off, referencing the past and thinking about, Hey, this thing here, doesn’t jive with what my model of what is right and wrong is,” and then how you move through time and go back and forth between the future and the past, through the present to get to some point in the future where your problem is solved and how those varying perspectives bring the team along with you on that journey, forward in time, but actually thinking about either the past or the future, or living in the moment as you’re solving the problem.
And so this, analyzing your teams or looking at your teams and how the, and their relationship with time also gives you a perspective on how they’re going to respond to problem solving. So I have a chapter on that as well. And then, one of the things that… since I’m an engineer I like to have some basis in science for what I’m working on. I like to know that there’s a scientific basis for it. And this is one of the things that the Enneagram when I was first introduced to it, I’m like, “Okay, this is an interesting system.” I use it more. “Hey, this seems to work. Hey, well, if it works this well, doesn’t that mean that there’s something about us humans that we’re wired this way that causes these nine types.”
And oftentimes people say, “Hey, are you forced to be your… Are you really your type? Or can you really be any type?” I mean, can we be multiple types? And the way I look at it is, “Hey, are you left-handed or right-handed?” “Well, I’m right-handed, so my dominant type, my dominant hand is right, but it, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have a left hand. I have a left hand, I can use my left hand and I exercise my left hand and I try to make it, you know, strong so that when I’m doing things, I can use both hands, but, you know, if I have to do some precision work, then I’m going to rely on my right hand to do that.” And so there’s a dominance, and I’ve come to think of the Enneagram types as also, you have your dominant type.
It doesn’t mean you don’t have access to those other types, but it just means that you have a dominant type and in the same way that our brain drives the dominance of right-hand and left-hand. I’ve come to understand that our brain drives the dominance of Enneagram types as well. And there is a great book called Personality in the Brain. And the author is Peter Savage. And he came up with a very elegant model that’s based on his research, studying the brain research in neurology literature, and looking at the behaviors of different brain types. And then coming up with a model that maps those to the Enneagram, very elegant, very simple model based on two parts of the brain, the Amygdala and the Pre-Frontal cortex. And just like, you can be right-handed or left-handed or ambidextrous, you could be right Amygdala dominant, left Amygdala dominant or Ambi.
And there’s three types there. Same thing for the Pre-Frontal cortex, three types there, three times three is nine. And so his model shows that those dominances drive the nine Enneagram behaviors. And that was very satisfying for me. And it really gave me another way to look at these different personality types. Now, not just from any aground point of view, but also a brain function point of view. And those two models are very, very consistent. And another thing that came out of looking at it from the point of view of brain, is that I find in the work place, there are certain groups of people that like to coalesced together and work together, right? And so in the workplace, I would often see like a type one, type four and type seven come together and work together in a team.
Also the two, the five and the eight, and also the three, the six and the nine. And the nice thing about all these types is that, that they all get along with one another, they all complement each other, and they all seem to want to work together. If you look at it from a brain point of view, it turns out that, in those dominances that I talked about, that all the dominances are complimentary. And in each one of these teams gives you essentially two balanced brains. And I thought that was fascinating. And it just provides another way to look at how these teams come together and work together and collaborate because they’re so complimentary.
I also do a chapter on, now that you have all of these tools, what happens on teams? You can start to look at it. So, if you have a team that is say has a lot of type eights on it, but doesn’t have, say a type six or type three, and it was lacking some of these other types, what does that team look like? Same thing with a lot of two or a one in a six. And so you can start to see these behaviors in the teams that are reflected by the constituents on the team. And then you start to see this relationship between those team styles and the sayings, like there’s a saying called “Fail fast,” right? Well, that’s the type eight, type eight wants to get the action, right?
There’s a problem. Come up with an idea, work to solve it. Oh, that doesn’t work. Try another idea. Oh, that doesn’t work. Try again and you iterate quickly to a solution, but you never stop. You never stop to think. You just act. And that’s that fail fast style is classic of a team that is really driven by eight energy. So I have a number of case studies of different types of teams that I’ve worked with. And then, you know, what happens on that team and again, all of these styles, if you deliberately go through the methodology one step at a time and not just jump ahead to say action, type step eight, but you deliberately go around, you’re going to end up with a lot better solution at the end, that will be more resilient, more reliable.
And then finally, I do a chapter on where I put all of these tools together. So for those of you who really like to dig in and understand how to analyze the team, if you know the Enneagram type of your team members, you can put it into these tables and then assess the proclivities of your team in terms of where are they going to do well, where they’re going to get stuck, where you’re going to need to kind of work them through the process so they don’t skip steps. Are they going to be future focused, past focused or present focused? And so you you’ll be able to see your team dynamics based on these tools, which is just something else that you can use as your guiding your team towards solutions. So that is the quick overview of the book. Thank you so much. Please get a copy of the book, leave a review on Amazon. I love you. And thank you.
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