Decades ago, I discovered Myers Briggs and personality (psychological) type. It helped me identify my strengths, weaknesses and motivations as an INTJ. I became empowered as I went from “thinking to knowing” my natural preferences within the four cognitive functions. That was powerful for me both personally and professionally as I realized I was “wired for success” on my chosen path. I stood taller, talked more confidently, made better eye contact, had a firmer hand shake … all amazing to me. All from a simple personality test. As with all that discover MBTI Type, I proceeded to type others; my wife, daughter, friends and associates, those I was recruiting and so on.
As a computer guy, I often see things in terms of the familiar computer processes of “Input, Process, Output.” As I started to share what I learned about Myers Briggs with others I instinctively applied that same approach, with the addition of Power (or energy source), resulting in the formalized PIPO (tm) Model shown metaphorically above. It has for decades allowed me to quickly teach others (beginners) about personality type and how to fast-type others. Formal tests like those at Truity, while highly desired, are not always practical. And, I could have novices productive in fast typing basics within 15-30 minutes.
The human metaphor I created helped me to become an expert at matching “talent to task” in my business career while being involved in over 1,000 new hire processes. It allowed me to spot the SFs that were perfect for customer support; the STs wired for tech; the deep thinker, mentally-gifted NTs in strategic planning; and the verbally-gifted and diplomatic NFs for many roles like account management. It also allowed me to become a Hall of Fame investor in early stage companies, as I would only pick deal jockeys (on ventures I liked) that were basically wired like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs (both NTs). It worked.
Here’s the Why and How of the PIPO Model
Here’s how I explain the PIPO model to a novice or casual follower of the Myers and Briggs personality system. First: view the other person as a “computer” with four, interconnected functions, each with two opposite preferences to pick from. I detail the 10 most common characteristics to look for in each preference later (based heavily on my experience). Below is a brief description of those four functions, how and why they work and relate to each other in this model -- all with the goal of quickly identifying the natural strengths and weaknesses in ourselves and others:
- We have a source of Power (with a preference for either external or internal energy, “Extravert vs. Introvert”, “E/I”),
- We gather Input for our mind (with a preference either for using the five senses or the sixth sense, the “gut”, “Sensate vs. iNtuitive”, “S/N”),
- We Process that data in our mind (with a preference either from a thinking or feeling point of view, “Thinker vs. Feeler”, “T/F”),
- Then, we present the result as Output for others to see and hear (with a preference for either a very organized-structured or flexible-adaptable format, “Judger vs. Perceiver”, “J/P”)
I know that to some experts in personality typing this may be a stretch, but when it comes to teaching the basics to beginners, this is the “fast path”, the “a-ha moment” that gets them to understand the four cognitive functions and their interrelationships. And this big picture view is a key to quickly learning and retaining knowledge and being able to apply it. This is especially key in today’s “learn fast, apply fast, Millennial” world.
With limited space, I’ll focus on Fast Typing now, more than teaching others the basics. But, PIPO works for both.
Fast Typing Basics
While over the years I’ve become good at quickly spotting all four preferences, that takes many years and it’s common to miss one or even two in the process, especially in short encounters and certainly for the beginner. So, I also introduce the idea of partial fast typing with only the need to spot two of the four functions initially and that the others will reveal themselves over time. The two that are easiest for me and most others to spot are the two P’s (PxPx or Power E-I and Process T-F). Those two are enough to have a quality encounter with someone for the first time.
My human metaphor above also shows the human body (not just the head for a reason), as it is meant to show the value of body language when trying to “read” others. Reading and Typing while similar, are different in that reading is what you see and hear in this moment and more of a “State of Mind” or mood indicator. Body language makes up more than 50 percent of all real-time, in-person communications so it’s very important. And, typing is looking for more of a person’s core makeup, their natural “giftedness”, the authentic person that they are, mostly for reasons of predicting and interpreting behavior and identifying future potential.
Here’s my sequence when fast typing. When I encounter someone, the first thing I see is their body language and facial expression. It has three possible indicators for me. That they are either Open (receptive), Closed (not receptive) or in the middle, Neutral (could go either way). This is a key for sale and business development people or any high stakes encounter. What do I do at that moment? I try to “match and mirror” them, which simply means I act like they act with these adjustments. If they are Open, I’m Open. If Neutral, I start Neutral and try to move them to Open. If Closed, I show Neutral and try to move up from there. These three indicators give me the initial vibe I need to have a productive encounter with someone.
Next, I look and listen for their Power preference (internal or external energy). This is pretty easy as most Introverts are usually in what I call “energy conservation mode” and will look reserved, somewhat low energy and think before they speak (more on this later). Or, they are Extraverts that show lots of energy, look busy, answer questions quickly. More detailed list of these preference indicators is below (see link below).
Next, I look for their Process preference (Thinker or Feeler). Again, this pretty easy. Thinkers are cool-cold and standoffish, sound very logical, and matter of fact, very candid (often too much so), to mention a few. Or they are Feelers that are warm and welcoming, seem sensitive, touchy feely, and often look like they need a hug.
So, for example, at this point I might know if they’re an Open, Introverted Feeler or a Closed, Extraverted Thinker. Would I change my pitch and approach to them? Of course. The other two functions, Input and Output, will become obvious over time, potentially in a second encounter, or initially if you have enough time to spot the I/O preference indicators listed below.
Three Fast Typing Tips
iNtuitives - Here’s a tip for spotting an iNtuitive that I learned over the years. iNtuitives have the gift to gab and spend a lot of time “in their head”, lost in thought. For example, when you hear someone speaking effortlessly, like there is a mind-mouth connection from heaven (aka they sound really smart and use more sophisticated language) and when you talk to them, they periodically disappear into their head to ponder (my wife calls these “Earth to Steve” moments). If so, you very likely have an iNtuitive. The other characteristics count (big picture and future focused) of course, but they can be somewhat less obvious in first encounters. By the way, I taught a short course on fast typing at Disney and had the manager come up on stage and nearly his entire department correctly typed him as an ENTP, within a few minutes using the PIPO model.
Introverts - Next, here’s a tip on spotting and understanding Introverts. The first time I learned I was an Introvert I thought of the stereotypical definition and it didn't sit well with me. Low energy, inward focused, aloof, disengaged. Yikes. Well, I soon learned a reality that changed my view forever. Introverts have one tank of gas (or one battery charge) and as a result, they have to manage their energy to have it when they need it. Extraverts get their energy from everyone around them, so they have endless tanks of gas (and charges). That helped me as I realized I could compete with the Extraverts if I learned to manage my energy. That means, when not on stage or performing, I was in what I call, “energy conservation mode”, like I was a top runner waiting for the big race. Or, like having a fully charged Tesla but suffering from range anxiety if I went pedal to the medal too much. Plus, when I learned that world class performers like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Tiger Woods, John McEnroe and even president Ab Lincoln were all Introverts, I knew I could compete, if I could just manage my energy. So, next time you see someone reserved, relaxed, looking low energy, remember, there’s quite possibly a top performer in there waiting to be called to the stage. Add an Assertive trait and you have a person with “power and presence” that can compete with anyone (aka quiet strength).
Assertiveness - a few adjustments to this model became clear over the decades. First, the Myers and Briggs personality model doesn't really show assertiveness or aggressiveness very well. We might think that all Extraverted Thinkers are that way, but they’re not. If either of those two preferences is near the functional mid-point, say the middle 20 percent, it can be challenging. So, on my form (which I’ll show later), I add an assertiveness scale from low to medium to high. This characteristic is easily observed in others and a key to certain encounters and hiring profiles (e.g., I like to hire assertive sales people). You might see this as my attempt to introduce the Neuroticism trait from the Big Five model to the PIPO model. Think of it as a fifth Function in MBTI that applies equally to the other four.
A Closer Look at the PIPO Model
Now let’s look at the four PIPO functions and the eight paired preference lists that many of us know so well. And, the 10 top characteristics in each preference. Note that the preferences are shown as opposites. If you have a preference then it’s considered a strength, while its opposite is considered a weakness. Sorry, I know that's pretty basic, but not to the novice.
Note – Here’s how I explain a “preference? It’s like being right handed, you have two hands, can use either, but you prefer one, as you’re better at it, use it more often and it’s your go-to hand. Bottom-line, a preference is not an exclusive characteristic. It just occurs more often that the opposite.
The preferences list below can also serve as mini summary profiles. For example, if you know someone is an ESTJ, the four boxes down the left side of the chart should describe this person in a summary format. Time permitting, and if justified, a review of a detailed personality profile is best. But, for many, such summary profiles are all that is needed.
Lastly, as you review the preference lists in the chart, keep in mind that if you can spot two to three of them in a list of 10 in an encounter (live or on the phone), that the others in that list are likely true as well. For example, if you spot a Perceiver, you can almost be assured they are not very punctual and often late to meetings. If you're curious, the #1 preference (bolded) in each of the eight paired lists is the one that supports the interrelationships best in the PIPO model.
On the subject of those 10 characteristics (preferences) I mention above, here’s a PIPO fast typing form with additional insights, including a chart of what to consider during a meeting when you know an attendee’s preferences.