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Understanding the Topology of Human Performance

Updated: Jun 20, 2022

Since the ’80s, scientific research has established that human beings have hard-wired personality traits, and these traits do not effectively change over time. This is a tremendous advantage in life, providing a stable and reliable set of behaviors that form the foundation for careers and personal lives. Understanding these traits gives individuals valuable insights into how to use their strengths more effectively. Simple personality tools have shown this.

“Today, psychometric science can measure these traits more specifically than ever, and the data generated can be applied to ever wider applications..”

More importantly, the abilities being measured are far more directly connected to job performance than older cognitive models such as IQ or the Wonderlich scale. Speed of learning and speed of processing information is directly related to job behaviors, and contrary to traditional thinking, faster is not necessarily better for many types of jobs.

The fact that all human beings have these hard-wired traits and abilities challenges virtually every current model or methodology for improving job performance. It turns out that concepts such as culture, creative thinking, teamwork, and leadership depend upon these elements. When these elements are measured and mapped within an enterprise, issues become clearer; the effectiveness of the methodologies are enhanced; and an integrated approach to human performance becomes possible.

A company may aspire to breakthrough developments by fostering creative thinking, yet one-half of the population cannot deliver this, regardless of training and motivation. Mapping the actual capabilities of the group identifies the true creative drivers, and at the same time, identifies those who are not creative but can support the project in other ways.

Typically, cultural surveys are based on values, ethics, and other intangibles. Mapping the cultural topology of a company reveals the collective personality or culture of each part of the business. This is the foundation upon which the other cultural elements rest and it is how that culture will manifest.

Teamwork is another universally popular concept. Companies talk about its importance and engage consultants to teach it and promote it. The topology of a team refers to the underlying structure of the team: how they handle communication; how or if they debate issues; do they favor change; are they strategically or tactically focused; and much more. Without knowing that structure, most teamwork efforts are little more than sermons, with a few good stories and some nice ideas.

Leadership is desirable in any company. However, leadership is delivered in many ways, and those ways depend upon those hard-wired strengths and abilities. When leadership is mapped, the organization can see what types of leadership are available in each workgroup. They can see what training is necessary and how to implement it most effectively.

"The first step in any consulting or training engagement must be to map the topology of the workgroup. Without an inventory of the hard-wired strengths and abilities of that group, how would the engagement proceed?"

What would be the basis for the project plan? What would be the individual expectations for the participants? Traditionally, trainers have reported that about one-third of any group of participants improve significantly; one-third improve somewhat; and one-third show no improvement. Today, with the ability to map the individual capabilities of the participants, those percentages are no longer acceptable.

BestWork can measure an individual’s traits and abilities using a 25 minute, online survey taken on a laptop or desktop computer. It is a challenging, yet positive experience. The DATA is agile, meaning that it can be multi-purposed into a virtually infinite variety of outputs. It can be aggregated with others to map the capabilities of workgroups or the enterprise as a whole. By juxtaposing the DATA, with the critical behaviors of different roles or situations, extraordinary information for analysis and decisions is available. Much as how a physician uses the data from an MRI by combining it with other information, consultants now have the means to accurately assess a problem and identify the most effective solution, with a map that the client can also understand.

There was an old commercial for BASF with the tagline, “BASF doesn’t make race cars. We make race cars go faster.” In the same way, BestWork doesn’t do consulting. We help consultants sell more projects; work more closely with their clients; and extend their engagements much further.

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