LOSER: The Personality Assessment for Startups

July 15, 2011

11:14 am

Management theorists profess the value of personality assessments, like Myers Briggs, as useful hiring and team-building tools. If you are not familiar with them, these tools are helpful for assessing a person’s ability to perform in specific roles.  Personality testing can ensure that companies have a well coordinated team, and it helps managers assess if they have the right people in the right positions on the team.

Myers Briggs, the most well known tool, rates people on 4 dichotomous criteria that result in 16 possible personas. Individuals are rated based on extroversion/introversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, judgement/perception.

Well, in the spirit of lean startups, I’m proposing a less bombastic, more easily judged, light-weight testing program. So I present to you: Lightweight Overly Simplified Emotional Reality assessment, or LOSER.

1. When you dry your clothes in the dryer do you:

a. Clean the lint filter after each load

b. Clean the lint filter before each load or

c. Say, “Lint Filter?”

Answer Analyses:

a. People who clean the lint filter after each dryer load are perfectionists.  Their desks are neat, their checkbooks are balanced, they are always wearing clean underwear in case they are hit by a bus.  These people make good CFOs, librarians, and prison wardens.

b. People who clean the lint filter prior to each load are pragmatists.  They realize that the world may end tomorrow and they’d hate to leave this earth wasting time preparing for a task that may never actually take place.  Most entrepreneurs fall into this category.

c. As for the “Lint Filter?” person, he or she will gravitate to a 1st level programmer, skateboarder, or mail room clerk.  If your company needs a professional skateboarder on staff, this person is a match for you.

2. Which best describes your diet?

a. Meat eater

b. Vegetarian because I love animals

c. Vegetarian because I hate plants

e. Red Bull, Magnum Double Caramel Ice Cream Bars, Starbucks and Pizza

 Answer Analyses:

a. Meet eaters go directly to the sales department.

b. Vegetarians for humane reasons should be working in HR or some artistic advertising/marketing pursuit.

c. Vegetarians who eat plants because they hate plants…this is where you apply the Google airplane test. Would you want to spend 5 hours flying across country sitting next to this person?

d. How about the Red Bull, Magnum Double Caramel Ice Cream Bars, Starbucks and Pizza person? Hire them now.  As long as you keep your office kitchen well stocked and put Dominoes on speed dial, this person will never leave the office.

3. If you were stuck on a dessert island with a DVD player and you could have 1 boxed set of DVDs for one of the following TV shows, which would you prefer:

a: Saved by an Angel

b: Seinfeld

Answer Analysis:

a: Glass half-full, sugary-sweet Saved by an Angel watchers make great HR reps, super customer service reps, and horrible sales people.  In school, these people were the teacher’s pet.

b: Glass half-empty, snarky, Seinfeld fans are cynical, realistic, and sit in the back of meetings sniping at their bosses.

4. Which late night show do you watch:

a: Leno

b: Letterman

c: The 7PM Evening News

Answer Analysis:

a: Leno people enjoy simplistic slapstick humor.  Good managers.

b: Letterman folks enjoy more sarcastic nuanced humor and are more complex thinkers, so don’t promote them because you need their smarts to do the actual work.

c: People who think the 7PM Evening News is a late night show are antisocial because they arrive at the office at 7:30 AM, a good 3 hours before the rest of the entrepreneurial staff show up, and they leave the office and are tucked in for bed when most of your employees are still working.  These people make good night watchmen (unless they’re women, in which case they’d be watchwomen) because night for a startup is about 4 AM in the morning.  They’d also make good system administrators because they can load tapes in the servers for back-up when the rest of the staff is still in bed.

I hope this has been instructive and that I have provided a useful tool to help you build your startup into a better company.  Feel free to use the comment section to answer the tests, and I’ll give you an personalized integrated analysis…publicly, as a reply comment.

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Glen Hellman (@glehel), is an angel investor, serial entrepreneur, and works for venture capitalists as a turn-around specialist. He is the Chief Entrepreneureator at Driven Forward LLC, frequently muses on his blog, Forward Thinking, and works with entrepreneurs to help them figure out what to do and get them to do it.

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