Conference Talks

Please find below an Abstract for two talks I will be giving next year at various Conferences:

What has been missing from profile tools for decades?

Abstract: As professionals who profile people, what might we have failed to measure?

Is it time to review both what we measure, not just for accuracy, but also for relevance to the context we are considering? The world’s private and public sector leaders believe that a rapid escalation of “complexity” is the biggest challenge confronting them, and their enterprises are not equipped to cope effectively with this complexity in the global environment – (Extracts from IBM’s Global CEO Study ‘Capitalising on Complexity’).

So is it time to measure a person’s relationship to complexity? Not just their ability, but also their capacity to cope with and respond effectively to complex life contexts.

Whether we consider students, lecturers, small business managers or directors of large corporations, being able to apply thinking at the appropriate level of complexity for the role is recognised as vital component of employment.  As humans we add value with insight, understanding and discretionary decision-making ability.

Very few existing profile systems measure a person’s cognitive complexity, their level of “adult development.”  Instead, they measure the behaviours or even the results of behaviours.   Mistaking the content of thinking for the structure of thinking or the capacity to think appropriately.

The aim of this [talk] is to provide insight into a method of profiling clients for their level of cognitive and social-emotional complexity via “meta-programmes”.

The system builds upon Kegan’s Levels of Adult Development (Kegan & Lahey, 1980) and Laske’s Constructive Developmental Framework (Laske, 2000).

This paper aims to offer a way of eliciting the habituated structures of a person’s thinking from their language, and relating the responses to levels of development; the person’s ability to relate both their social emotional and cognitive response patterns to an increasingly complex world.

Theories, Models and Research:

Personality profiling, often referred to as psychometric testing or psychological profiling, is a means of measuring an individual’s personality in a particular situation (Groth-Matnat, 2009). It is not a measure of intelligence or ability but of behaviour, and has been in common use for over sixty years in a variety of contexts including selection and assessment (Weiner, 2003)

Although there are many personality inventories on the market today, Occupational Psychologists are limited in their choice for profiles that offer Vertical Development (De Visch, 2014). Kegan, (1982, 2002), suggested there are identifiable patterns of meaning-making that people have in common, and devised a stages model (vertical) to best-denote complexity in people. For McCauley, Drath, Palus, O’Connor & Baker, B. A. (2006) vertical development is about our self-constructs and how they grow more complex over time. In order to better-understand how a person deconstructs their thinking, this research has mapped those stages of development to meta-programmes.

By taking into account how a person knows what they know about their own thinking, we can work out a person’s level of complexity, defined by this researcher as their ‘level of in-sight’.

It is derived from a person’s meta-programmes that determine how much of an unconscious preference their thinking has towards certain categories of thinking styles, such as: do they favour the task over the relationship in a work context?

Within the Identity Compass profile tool, there are fifty unconscious preferences, which when combined will determine to what extent the person is able to reflect on their subjective experience, and is then gauged on a scale of meta-awareness entitled The Thinking Quotient. Conscious [awareness] allows us to over-ride fixed patterns of conflicted behaviour (Schwartz, 2016).

Being able to understand one’s level of meta-awareness allows two things to happen: firstly, it gives the profiler (or organisation) a benchmark of the client’s thinking from which a strategy for Vertical Development can begin; and secondly, it gives the client a benchmark for their level of complexity from which they can derive certain behavioural and cognitive thinking patterns that raises awareness of the potential limitations in their thinking. This thinking complexity is central to organisational role alignment, job fit and future capacity in role (Laske, 2015, p349), and the growing need for greater individual complexity in business. The organisational benefits are potentially numerous, as you become better able to cope with rapid and increasingly unpredictable change in the business environment (Petrie, 2014)

This paper aims to give a more constructed understanding of how our thinking complexity contributes to, and fills the gaps in research on personality using, for example, Costa and McCrae’s Big Five or Bartram’s Great Eight.

Conventional trait-based profiles do not uncover a difference in meaning-making and complexity. The Thinking Quotient utilised in the present study not only demonstrates where this development-limiting conflict arises, but can offer interventions for the future prevention of such limiting thinking.

Note: The current research/profile development is being undertaken in line with Coventry University’s Ethical guidelines, as well as the British Psychological Society’s (2014) Code of Human Research Ethics. Ethical considerations such as anonymity, confidentiality and voluntary participation are being addressed by using a coded naming convention for all profiles and informing participants that their participation is voluntary and that there are no repercussions for not taking part.

 Evolution +/or Revolution: This proposal is relevant to the main conference theme due to its focus on:

  • Complexity Profiling via meta-programmes, a revolutionary process and one that is not currently undertaken in any formal psychological manner in industry or research;
  • The Thinking Quotient, a new and innovative concept developed and founded by the presenter and centred around the idea of cognitive and social-emotional complexity;
  • How a person knows what a person knows about themselves as opposed to focusing on traits to determine behaviour;
  • Demonstrating the behavioural limitations of a person in context as a direct result of their thinking complexity limitations.

Psychological Assessment at Work: This submission is appropriate for the category of Psychological Assessment at Work due to its focus on a questionnaire to determine an individual’s level of complex thinking which can be aligned – or not – with their organisational role complexity, and act as a benchmark for Coaching and Vertical Development in context.

Novel and Innovative Aspects: This paper will focus on a new profile methodology developed by the researcher that takes the responses from an existing profile tool and aligns the output scores with Kegan’s (1994) Levels of Adult Development to give a measure akin to Kegan’s level constructs and Laske’s CDF. The application of this will initially be as a cognitive and social-emotional developmental benchmark for their continued Personal Development, and eventually, on organisational role alignment to determine future capacity and capability. This will ensure a more engaged and meaningful work experience.

Stimulating and Useful Aspects for Delegates, the Public and Media: We can infer from the above that a person’s complexity in thinking is going to be ever-more important in an increasingly complex business world. This paper outlines to the audience the benefits of a person knowing their thinking complexity level, its role in the future of organisational complexity, and the advantages of vertically developing one’s ‘level of in-sight’ to change their sense of self in the world.

Target audience – Postgraduates, practitioners, and researchers.


References will be given upon request.

Get in touch today if you are attending any of the conferences mentioned on the home page.