A number of you may either have taken or heard of Carl Jung, Myers-Briggs, or Hermann Brain Dominance Indicator studies. These studies have been around since 1923, when Carl Jung came out with a book called "Psychological Types." Between 1923 and 1941, Myers and Briggs mastered and extended Jung’s theory and created the first indicator. These studies and use of the Hermann Brain Dominance Indicator continue to this day. If you have never participated in one of these studies, I encourage you to do so, should the opportunity present itself.
While working for a previous employer, I had the opportunity to participate in both of these studies. They really helped me better understand what mechanisms to utilize when explaining things to others, especially in meetings. Do you consider yourself logical, mathematical, structured, organized, or methodical? If so, then you might be considered left-brained. Or are you creative, artistic, musical, feeling, or sensing? If these characteristics define you better, then you would be more right-brained. Such characteristics are not mutually exclusive, and most individuals have some of both.
Have you sat through presentations where the slides were nothing but bulleted items, with no pictures or graphics? While this format may appeal to many attendees, I guarantee it will lose the attention of an equal number of attendees very quickly.
Next time you’re at a presentation or conference, note which speakers utilize a combination of words and graphics and which do not. Which presentation do you remember most clearly? When you are explaining a topic to an individual or small group, have you ever stopped to draw a picture or diagram to help explain it? I know I draw a lot of pictures or diagrams when I’m teaching a class, answering a question, or making a point. Those who knew me in graduate school laugh; they consider me an off-the-chart, left-brained individual with extremely logical, analytical, fact-based, quantitative, organized, sequential, planned, and detailed characteristics. While this may be good when I’m working with network engineers to develop network diagrams or other highly technical individuals, it may not work as well in an emergency operations center when I’m acting as the corporate incident commander. When wearing the incident commander hat, the right-brain characteristics of holistic, intuitive, integrating, synthesizing, interpersonal, feeling-based, and emotional must be added to the mix if we are to accomplish the tasks at hand, ensuring our employees and families are first and foremost in any recovery effort.
Whether you get an opportunity to participate in one of these studies or not, do think about how you communicate to others and how you best receive information. Many books are available on these theories and communication patterns. As you develop business continuity plans, look at all the aspects required to develop an entire business unit plan. Not only do you need the left-brained traits of technical, analytical, sequential, and organized, but you also need the holistic, integrating, and interpersonal traits when working with people to accomplish the plan and keep each piece of the business running. Step back and take a moment to think about all the characteristics you have to build a successful recovery plan. You will definitely have a great feeling of accomplishment when you successfully bring all these elements together.
"Appeared in DRJ's Fall 2007 Issue"