Four Personalities that have Changed our Workplace

In Javelina’s evolution from a founder-led boutique consulting firm to a change-engineering company working with organizations and people to transform their communities, we have relied on four foundational things:

  1. Systems and processes
  2. Personalities and strengths
  3. Habits and best practices
  4. Tools

Don’t miss the first in our four-part series on the four essential systems and processes we use.

Today: The four personalities at the center of our transformation.

Admiral of the U.S. Navy, Hyman Rickover said: “Human experience shows that people, not organizations or management systems, get things done.”

You can have the very best systems, processes and tools in the world, but if you don’t have the right people then those things won’t take you very far. At Javelina, we’ve learned that the “right people” include these four essential roles:

The Visionary

The Visionary can practically touch the horizon that you’re all striving to reach. They can see it in their mind’s eye, and they can paint such a powerful picture of it that you feel like you can practically smell it. You’re 100% in – you want to be a part of their journey to the horizon, no matter what that might entail.

The Visionary creates a very clear idea of where your group is headed. They might not necessarily be able to tell you how we’re going to do it, but that doesn’t matter. Their passion and conviction is so compelling that it’s contagious. You trust that under their watch the dream is going to come true.

Famous visionaries include Martin Luther King, Jr., Oprah Winfrey and Steve Jobs. The Visionary draws you in. They see you; they hear you. You feel special when you’re a part of the Visionary’s team.

The Questioner

Spoiler alert: The Questioner asks questions. Not just any old questions though. They ask the right questions. The Questioner never agrees to a course of action just because someone else tells them that’s the plan. They think critically about every small detail. They spend time and energy thinking through whether it makes sense to do things this way – or whether there’s a better way.

If an agreed upon course of action stops making sense, they have no trouble changing course mid-route. They have the courage to point out inefficiencies or nonsensical strategies to their teammates – even if switching directions will cost time, money, or both.

If you’re not a Questioner, this might sound annoying. However, think about the eventual savings of having someone on the team who is keeping watch this way. If you’re a Questioner, the very concept of not questioning will seem inane to you. Why on earth would you pursue a plan of action that isn’t working? You may have noticed that default human behavior (especially in teams) tends to favor this very thing. So it’s good to have a Questioner on your team to shake you out of the grips of groupthink.

A Questioner keeps you in pursuit of doing things the best way – not just the way they’ve always been done.

The Researcher

Hands in the air if your definition of research is dropping a combination of words into your Google search bar and following the direction of the top-listed result? That’s me. In fact, these days I tend to use the embedded answer Google provides on the results page – I don’t even click on links.

This can be a fine approach in certain circumstances, but for important decisions (and in any organization or project, there are plenty of those) you want to make sure you’re equipping yourself with the right information. And this means proper research.

Research is defined as “the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.” Yeah, there’s nothing systematic about my Google-fuelled decision making.

On the other hand, the Researcher is patient and thorough. They’re hungry for information, they see stories in data, and they’re in pursuit of the right answer – not the first one. It’s very important to them that they do something well, rather than quickly. Most importantly, they recognize that key decisions made without proper research are costly and inefficient in the long run.

The Organizer

Your amazing team has compiled a fully thought out, well-researched and critically analyzed vision. You have a plan. So how are you going to turn it into reality? Enter: The Organizer.

The Organizer color-coordinates their closet. They buy birthday cards for friends and family weeks in advance. A spreadsheet is their idea of a good time and they will die by their to-do list. They love organizing other people, whether those people want to be organized or not.

Meetings without clear action items are their worst nightmare. The Organizer is the person you loved to hate during groups projects in college, because they jammed up your inbox with passive-aggressive and anxious demands to meet deadlines, but in the end, helped get your group organized enough to get an A.

Maximizing the Four Personalities on Your Team

Finally, here are some tips to maximize the impact of the Four Personalities on your team or organization:

  • Keep it human. These are the four capabilities that a person must do. Those people are supported by habits, systems and tools, but the motivating force behind each role is inherently human. You can’t outsource these things to a machine.
  • Fill all the spots. On your team, you may have more than one person that fills each of these buckets – or perhaps some people that fulfill two or more of the roles. It’s not about assigning each role to an individual person, but rather making sure that you have these vital human functions represented on your team.
  • Be sure the role allows for each person’s strengths to shine. Equally important as having the right people, is ensuring they are in the right seats. If you have the most talented writer in the world on your team in charge of the financials, your performance will suffer.
  • Think about this for every team you compile. Whether it is your organization as a whole or a small team you’re putting together to work on a project, ask yourself: Do I have a Visionary, a Questioner, a Researcher and an Organizer? If not, how can you include the right personalities in your process. This can be as simple as identifying a Questioner and asking them to review your work plan before you action it, or asking a Visionary friend to speak to your workgroup about what they are able to create together.
  • Keep it front of mind. Stay aware of these roles and the impact they have on your outcomes. What we’ve learned at Javelina is the utter importance of consistently ensuring these four personalities are included as every step of your organization’s work. When we forget and start a project without a Questioner, we waste a lot of time and money pursuing the wrong course of action.

How do the Visionary, the Questioner, the Researcher and the Organizer strengthen your organization?

Javelina Blog Author Ariel Reyes
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Javelina Blog Author

Catherine Alonzo, CEO & Founding Partner

Catherine Alonzo is the CEO and founding partner of Javelina, a company that brings brand experience to life for non-profits, businesses, campaigns and individuals. Having played a pivotal role in growing Javelina into a leading branding and marketing firm, Catherine specializes in effective messaging, brand development and business strategic planning.


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