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The title of this week’s post refers to Tuckman’s revised model of team effectiveness (Tuckman and Jensen, 1977). The five phases of Tuckmans model are: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. In the ‘forming’ phase, a new team is formed, and it’s members may feel a mix of excitement and anxiety for the coming project. Tuckman noted one source of this anxiety to be uncertainty about how well the team will gel or work effectively.
In general— and particularly in the ‘forming’ phase— it is important to have an awareness of your strengths, weaknesses, and personality traits. As such, in this post I’ll be exploring the idea of knowing one’s self.
“One has to know the size of one’s stomach.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche (1908).
The Cambridge Dictionary provides the following definitions:
- Self-reflection: the activity of thinking about your own feelings and behaviour, and the reasons that may lie behind them.
- Self-awareness: good knowledge and judgment about yourself.
The Oxford Lexico Dictionary provides the following definition:
- Self-formation: The fact or process of something forming itself; the formation of a person, mind, personality, etc., independently, without external cause or influence; specifically self-development of the mind or character.
The concepts of self-reflection, self-awareness, and self-formation all converge in the intangible act of ‘knowing one’s self’ (Schön, 1983; Townley, 1995). At the end of UXD720, I laid out a set of SMART goals to address a few weaknesses that I had identified over the course of the module.
These goals can be found, in full, in my UXD720 Week 12 post. Briefly, I aimed to improve my UX deliverables, avoid writing burnout, refine my academic writing, and develop my research skills.
I have found it difficult to isolate particular habits to break or encourage when I address these areas of weakness. I know that my writing style, for example, should be more academic and I tend to use creative flair too liberally, but I still find myself producing wordy content.
In part, I believe my difficulty in isolating said habits can be attributed to tacit knowledge. “We can know more than we can tell”; I know where my weaknesses are but it is not easy to describe steps to improvement (Polanyi, 2009, 4). By nature of this incommunicability, I can only track my progress towards my goals through regular reflection.
Beyond understanding my developable skills, to know myself I should understand the formation of my personality. This week’s learnings encouraged students to complete a personality test. There is a widespread agreement on the five-factor model of personality in academia— openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticisim. (Mount et al., 2005). Given this predominance I opted to complete the ‘Big Five Personality Test’, provided by Truity:
My results alone make me question the validity of this test. I find it hard to accept my 100% score for extroversion. I am undeniably a confident person, but the notion that I have reached the absolute upper bound of extroversion is farcical.
The likelihood is that I saw the test as an “existential threat”, and unintentionally falsified my results; a regular occurrence that Ziegler et al. (2011, xi,) recognised as “the soft underbelly of personality research”.
I am inclined to agree with Block (1995) that “the algorithmic method of factor analysis may not provide dimensions that are incisive”. I’ve opted to disregard the numerical values seen in Fig. 1. and view the test as a superficial indicator. from this perspective, I could say that I am a confident, imaginative, and— for the most part— considerate individual, who has tendencies for self-doubt and becoming disorganised. I’d say this statement is in closer alignment with how I perceive myself than the algorithmic findings of the test.
I’m reminded of a quote I referred to in the last module, that applies well here:
“There is too much measurement going on. Some things which are numerically
precise are not true; and some things which are not numerical are true. Orthodox
research produces results which are statistically significant but humanly insignificant; in human inquiry it is much better to be deeply interesting than accurately
– Reason and Rowan (1981).
List of Figures
Fig. 1: My results from the ‘Big Five Personality Test’. Truity.
BLOCK, J. 1995. ‘A contrarian view of the five-factor approach to personality description’. Psychological bulletin, 117(2), 187–215.
Cambridge University Press. ‘SELF-AWARENESS | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary’. Cambridge Dictionary. Cambridge: University of Cambridge. Available at: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/self-awareness %5Baccessed 23/08/2021]
Cambridge University Press. ‘SELF-REFLECTION | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary’. Cambridge Dictionary. Cambridge: University of Cambridge. Available at: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/self-reflection %5Baccessed 23/08/2021]
LEXICO. ‘SELF-FORMATION | Definition of SELF-FORMATION by Oxford Dictionary on Lexico.com’. Lexico [online]. Available at: https://www.lexico.com/definition/self-formation [accessed 23/08/2021].
MOUNT, M.K., BARRICK, M.R., SCULLEN, S.M. & ROUNDS, J. 2005. ‘Higher-Order Dimensions of the Big Five Personality Traits and the Big Six Vocational Interest Types’, Personnel Psychology, 58(2), 447–478.
NIETZSCHE, F.W., & LARGE, D. 2007. Ecce homo: how to become what you are. Reissue edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
POLANYI, M. 2009. The Tacit Dimension. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 4.
REASON, P. & ROWAN, J. 1981. Human enquiry: a sourcebook in new paradigm research. Chichester: Wiley.
SCHÖN, D. 1983. The Reflective Practitioner. New York: Basic Books.
TOWNLEY, B. 1995. ‘`Know Thyself’: Self-Awareness, Self-Formation and Managing’, Organization, 2(2), 271–289.
TRUITY. ‘The Big Five Personality Test’. Truity [online]. Available at: https://www.truity.com/test/big-five-personality-test [accessed 23/08/2021].
TUCKMAN, B.W. & JENSEN, M.A.C. 1977. ‘Stages of small-group development revisited’. Group & Organization Studies, 2(4), 419-427.
ZIEGLER, M., MACCAN, C. & ROBERTS, R. 2011. New perspectives on faking in personality assessment. Oxford: Oxford University Press, xi.