Kirton Theory in R&D Management – a Problem Solving Leader’s Report

– Bill Diana

I am a long serving engineer with, currently, a special internal consultant role to help teams manage themselves effectively and so solve the technical problems this international chemical company needs solved. This is my latest example. Names of units are made up or left as initials for security reasons.

An experienced high-level, highly motivated R&D team (henceforth called the Revelation Team) was formed and charged with inventing and developing for marketing a paradigm shift type product. This was in the setting of a company having a leading product that has dominated for many years. Many attempts had been made before to generate such new products to compete with this current product (and spin-offs) but they were not entirely successful. However, as in all industries, business conditions change, and even though the organisation has a good position with products of similar types in the marketplace, the need to produce something totally new and superior was highly desirable to ensure improved future business viability. The board has realised that the chances of success for producing a new product would require a “highly focused” team effort, that is, people who could closely collaborate on emerging key problems. Thus, the Revelation Team was created. Further, the organisation believed that if it set its targets to achieve the impossible, then anything falling somewhat short of this target would still be a desirable result. Some of the requirements for success mutually developed by the Revelation Team for higher management are shown in Table 1.

Table 1

Requirements

Mission : Produce a Paradigm Shift in Product

Must be made from new molecules
Must be made with a new process
Must have 30-50% superior properties
Other demanding criteria
One of the sub-requirements under “other demanding criteria” was that the Revelation Team would have only two years to invent the product, develop and scale-up to produce large volumes of new product for market testing, and collect enough data to permit the design engineers to develop a flow plan and perform a cost estimate for a commercially sized plant. To accomplish any major R&D objective in two years would itself be considered a company work paradigm shift, let alone one which would result in a paradigm shift in product as well.

Revelation Team – Highly Skilled, Mostly Volunteers
During the conception and formative stages of the team, the Revelation Team Leader, appointed by top management, sought to include highly motivated individuals on the team. One of his first moves was to staff the team with many experienced individuals with specific chemistry and engineering skills; most of the managers, and some of the others, had PhDs among their degrees. Further, the team leader sought out individuals on a volunteer basis from within and outside of his organisation. The individuals who volunteered fully knew that this team would embark on a most difficult mission and that the approach that the team would take in order to meet the requirements would be, to say the least, non-conventional.

Early in the Team’s life a KAI analysis was performed for the entire team and the results and theory were discussed in a workshop. This was later followed by a report describing Kirton Theory in detail, as well as an analysis of each team. Besides the basics on style, team members had explained such concepts as the management of diversity related to coping behaviour and the distinction between Problem A and Problem B. A plot of the individual scores for the entire Revelation Team is shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Revelation Team Analysis – Distribution of KAI Scores

R&D figure A


Range of KAI Values

Team Leader’s KAI Score 132

Team Mean KAI Score 105


The mean score for the Revelation Team (105) is on the innovative side of the population mean just over the mean found for other R&D groups (circa102) in UK and US. The KAI scores ranged from (61 to 139). Each individual received personal feedback to ensure that the score was accurate, accepted and understood. The team leader with a score of 132 was highly innovative relative even to the team norm. This Team Leader helped conceive the project, helped develop the requirements for success, had a reputation of handling many things at a time, as well as attempting difficult, risky objectives. The characteristics of his style fit Kirton Theory expectation for this task. He also had a reputation for achieving success. To the Team Leader’s credit, he quickly accepted Kirton concepts, and recognised that his cognitive style was far different from many of the individuals on his team. Thus, throughout the project he was highly conscious of his creative style and the impact he was liable to make on team members especially those (the majority) who were more adaptive. Because he was enlightened to Kirton Concepts, readily accepted feedback, listened carefully to everyone’s inputs, pursued a course of collaboration; he was able to incorporate a wide range of styles successfully into the Revelation Team. This included some high adaptors who might otherwise have resisted many suggested non-traditional approaches as well as some high innovators who might overplay their style in ways that might upset colleagues unnecessarily. It is believed that the level of skill in incorporating a wide range of styles into a team is an important indicator of problem solving leadership qualities.

Structure of the Team

The team members working together with the team leader developed their structure, shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Revelation Team Substructure

R&D figure B
The Revelation Team was composed of a number of distinct teams each with an agreed and clearly understood mission. There were two general teams, a Management Team and a Leadership Team together with its four sub-teams: KAT, PX, PA, and HK. The Management Team was positioned to make major decisions and would serve as a buffer between the Revelation Team (as a whole) and top management. The Leadership Team consisted of leaders from the various sub-teams (some appointed by the Revelation Team Leader), plus some other collaborating sub-teams outside the main team. The sub-teams and their missions will be described later but, of these, the RFPD&C (Revelation Facility Process Design & Construction) Team consisted of individuals who were outside of the scope of the Revelation Team and were contracted to build specific equipment for Team HK. The remaining individuals on the Revelation Team dedicated their time to support the various sub-team activities on an ad hoc basis and, as such, were part of the “big” team and didn’t operate as part of any specific operating team. A complete analysis of each of the teams based on Kirton Concepts and the results which were achieved by the teams over the two-year time period follows.

The Management Team – Balances Freedom & Constraint

The Management Team’s mission was to help guide the Revelation Team towards completing its objective in meeting most, if not all of the Requirements. Team members included the Venture Manager, the Revelation Team Leader, a Business and a Marketing Manager. The scores of members of this team are shown in Table 2 (leaders are always shown in italics).

Table 2

Analysis of the management team


FUNCTION KAI SCORE DELTA

Project Venture Manager 96 0

Business Manager 97 +1

Marketing Manager 130 +34

Revelation Team Leader 132 +36

___

Mean 114


The Team Leader’s score of (96) is right at the population norm (95), and the scores within the team range from (96 – 132). This Leader’s style is predicted to be ideal to help facilitate the transfer of technology developed by the Revelation Team into commercial reality. His style would “bridge” the Revelation Team’s moderately innovative style (105) to that of higher management as well as all other departments that might eventually be involved. However, both the Marketing Manager and the Revelation Team Leaders scores show that they are significantly innovative in style relative to the other two members by over 30 points. This is a difference that Kirton predicts requires insight and effort to bridge if high collaboration is needed. Problems (of a B nature) are liable to arise that could deleteriously affect the Team. However, the Management Team quickly recognised the implications of style differences and avoided any polarisation that might occur between “like and unlike styles”. Throughout the entire life of the project, this team did an excellent job of consciously balancing freedom and constraint issues which faced the Revelation Team throughout its existence. This turned out to be a deliberate exercise in diversity management that Kirton advocates.

The Leadership Team – in Name Only

This Team’s mission, as defined by the Revelation Team Leader who also leads this team, is to review and discuss the status of the sub-teams’ work as well as to communicate other important issues to the members of the team, in other words to act as an information exchange centre. This team meets bi-monthly. Their KAI scores are shown below in Table 3.

The Revelation Team Leader’s style is, as previously discussed, very innovative compared to half the members of this team. The differences between the leader and the rest of the team range between 11 and 43, less the one exception who lies well within the leader’s“ comfort zone”! So one could predict that significant problems might soon become apparent to this team.

Table 3
Analysis of the leadership team


FUNCTION KAI SCORE DELTA

Research Chemist 89 -43

Research Chemist 95 -37

Senior Engineer 101 -31

Staff Engineer 102 -30

Research Chemist 117 -15

Research Chemist 117 -15

Research Chemist 121 -11

Senior Engineer Leader 132 0

Senior Engineer 133 + 1

____

Mean 112


This happened, for although the team members had been made aware of Kirton Concepts and dangers ahead, they were not interested in running team building sessions around understanding and using Kirton Theory. Some of the problems that they later encountered would include poor communication, inter-personal trust issues, constraints and “put-downs” such as: “it can’t be done that way” or “this is the only way it will work”. However, some of the expected difficulties did not seem to occur as the Revelation Team leader pursued a course of “information only”. So, although the team was rich in diversity of style and skill it did not make good use of this range. The consultant teams saw not much communication, debate, group idea generation or leadership occurring when this team met. Here, then, the conflict Kirton Theory predicts is avoided at the expense of full use of the team’s diversity potential. Whereas, knowledge of this theory was found among other teams to promote difference of opinion but not damaging conflict – thereby making good use of the diversity whilst retaining group cohesion.

Team KAT – Hasn’t Yet Met The Requirements

Table 4

Analysis of the team KAT


MISSION : Adapt Existing, or Invent New Technology to Produce an Improved Raw Material

FUNCTION KAI SCORE DELTA

Technician 86 – 31

Specialist 105 – 12

Technician 116 – 1

Research Chemist, Leader 117 0

Engineer 118 + 1

Technician 136 + 19

____

Mean 113


Team KAT’s mission was to adapt existing or invent new technology, while adapting an existing process to produce a new raw material. The KAI data for this team is shown in Table 4.

The Team Leader’s style is innovative (117), but close to the team mean (113); and the scores range from (89 to 136). The team leader is highly respected for his many technical contributions made over his career with the organisation. He is personally involved with most of the work that the Team is carrying out. Based on Kirton Theory, given the wide range in styles on the team, it was predicted that unless enlightened, the Team might experience people-related problems. A workshop on Kirton Theory was recommended to help the team understand the value of acceptance of styles diversity. For a number of reasons, especially time constraints, this workshop was not conducted. However one team member (118) expressed concern over team process issues. She requested and received private counselling regarding how to help facilitate some team process issues that she felt the cause of a number of problems that the team was having. This individual also split her time with Team PX.

At the two-year mark of this Team’s life, it has not produced the new raw material. “It” however has uncovered some promising new technology (in fact, developed by the Team Leader and an outside university source) which to date has not been tested. Although, input was not solicited, it is believed that the rest of Team Members may feel left out of this discovery. The discovery is often referred to as “individuals 117 invention”. It is strongly believed that although the team came up with new technology, it could have done much better.

Team PX – A Success Story

Team PX’s mission was to adapt existing technology, modify an existing process, to produce a new raw material. The KAI data for this Team is shown in Table 5.

Table 5

Analysis of the team PX


MISSION : Adapt Existing Technology to Produce a New Raw Material

FUNCTION KAI SCORE DELTA

Engineer 61 – 44

Engineer 82 – 23

Engineer 99 – 6

Technician 102 – 3

Research Chemist, Leader 105 0

Technician 106 + 1

Engineer 118 + 13

Engineer 128 + 23

____

Mean 100


The Team Leader, a highly valued PhD chemist, scores at (105), the Team’s norm is (100); and the scores range from (61 to 128). The individual with the strongest adaptive style resides on this team. The Team Leader is situated near the Team’s norm, and if enlightened to style diversity, could serve as a bridge between the extreme styles on this team. Also, since there existed (13 to 44) point differences in scores between the Leader and Team Members, it was recommended that a workshop based on Kirton Technology, aimed at achieving collaboration of styles, should be held. Again, for various reasons, this workshop never was conducted. However, two individuals on the Team (61) and (118) expressed a strong interest in knowing more about Kirton Concepts, and how they could be used to improve team dynamics. Private discussions were held with both of these individuals. During the Team’s life, unsolicited praise regarding both these individuals was received from Team Members. One informative input on individual scoring 61 was “He is the glue that holds this team together and on course”. And, for the other individual (118): “She is doing an outstanding job out here”.

This Team achieved its mission on schedule, which included a sustained scaled-up production run to produce a series of new raw materials. Immediately after the production run, the Team returned its attention to develop the manufacturing process further. Individual (61) temporarily left the team to perform other work. While he was away, the Team faced a serious technical problem which persisted in spite of considerable effort. Research productivity ceased. Team members complained about people-related problems. One comment made in praise of individual (61) was “we can’t wait until he returns”. Apparently he was acting (and was seen to be acting) as the group’s integrator. Although this Team achieved its mission, it could have done better by more of the team understanding and integrating Kirton Concepts into its work processes; they relied too much on two people in this respect. Communications could have been more open, and a stronger spirit of cooperation and collaboration may then have existed in this Team.

Team PA – Close But Not Quite There

Table 6

Analysis of the team PA

MISSION : Convert New Raw Material, Using Known Technology and a New Process, to Produce a New Product


FUNCTION KAI SCORE DELTA

Research Chemist, Leader 89 0

Engineer 113 24

Engineer 113 24

Research Chemist 117 28

Engineer ____________________ 135 46

Engineer * 77 – 12

Engineer * _88 – 3

Mean 113 (104)*


*Later arrivals alter mean

Team PA’s mission was to convert the new raw materials made by Teams PX and KAT, by adapting existing technology, modify an existing process to produce a new product. Of all the options available to the Revelation Team, Team PA had the highest probability of success. Also it was considered to be the number one contender for commercialisation. The KAI scores for this Team are shown in Table 6.

The Leader’s score is (89); the 5-man norm is (113 – the research chemist on 117 often acts helpfully as an informal bridger); and the scores range from (89 to 135). The Team Leader is a very highly respected PhD chemist and is also well known in the company for his many contributions. He was brought in from another organisation and was made leader of the PA Team. This Team Leader is deliberate, looks for as much information as possible, and carefully studies it before making a decision. However the rest of the Team is more innovative in style than him. Further, the Team Leader resides in a different location from the rest of the Team. Based on Kirton Theory, and given the location situation, it was predicted that it would be extremely difficult to bring these individuals together and operate as a team. The Team Leader would need the support and cooperation of the rest of the Team Members to help work both task and process issues. However, the rest of the Team Members are more innovative and, unless enlightened, might not be able to provide the desired help to the leader. Further, rather than help, they possibly might contribute to problems, yet be unaware of this negative contribution: “After all, it is simply not my style”. Thus it was recommended that this Team conduct a workshop to enlighten the team to both the advantages and disadvantages of cognitive style, as well as how to “close the gap” between the Leader and the Team Members. As in previous recommendations, this team because of time constraints didn’t take the time to conduct the workshop.

This Team made a rapid start, and quickly achieved, on a lab size scale, its mission. They had actually surpassed their mission requirement and modified existing technology with a new process to produce a new product. However, they have had extreme difficulty in scaling-up the process and have yet to make material for market testing. During this troublesome period, two individuals (135) and (117) privately expressed the opinion that “our Team needs help, we are not acting as a team”. It is suspected that both were completely unaware that they were observed to be major contributors to some of the team’s problems.

Two new individuals, both with plant experience, were brought into the Team (see *additions, Table 6). Both individuals were quickly assimilated and it appeared that they had a stabilising influence on the Team. Both individuals were also more adaptive than the other Team Members. However, both of the new Team Members privately said: “our Team needs help to resolve the people problems that we are having”. Currently the Team is working on resolving the technical problems and should in the near future successfully scale up and produce a new product for market testing. Although this Team has done well, it certainly could have done better, earlier, if it recognised the implications of its diversity of management needs.

Team HK – An Enlightened Team

Team HK’s mission was to convert the new raw materials produced by Teams PX and KAT, invent new technology and a new process, to produce a new product. New here means innovative style discovery. It is not in the literature, and to the Team’s knowledge has never been made before. This Team if successful would meet all of the requirements as previously discussed. This would produce the paradigm shift in product which the organisation desired. However, the probability of achieving this mission was the lowest of all the options available to the Revelation Team. The KAI scores for the Team Members are shown in Table 7.

Table 7

Analysis of the team HK

MISSION: Convert new raw material, using new technology and a new process, to produce a totally new product

PROBABILITY: Lowest of many options available to project but highest potential


FUNCTION KAI SCORE DELTA

Research Chemist 78 *

Specialist 83 *

Technician 84 *

Senior Engineer 101 *

Engineer 113 *

Senior Research Chemist 121 *

Senior Engineer 133 *

____

Mean 102


* = Shared Leadership

The norm for this Team is (102), and the Team scores range from (78) to (133). The Team has a wide, almost evenly distributed, degree of styles. This Team started integrating human diversity issues such as differences in creative style with technical skills into its work processes right from the onset. Thus a formal workshop was not recommended. For example immediately reading the report about Kirton Theory, and the analysis of the Revelation and its sub-teams, one Team Member (121) stated “I can now see other people through a new set of eyes. For example, I now know why “he” is so deliberate and won’t make a move unless he feels that he has all the available information and all the questions are answered. And, I now know why “she” has no trouble handling a number of projects all at the same time. Further, I now know how and why my own style affects other people whose styles are so different from mine. I also have an additional insight of how to achieve collaboration”.

As a result of this kind of thinking and a willingness to practice knowledge gained from Kirton Theory, this Team on its own, set up work processes that were in harmony with both the individuals’ technical skills and creative style. Further, the Team decided that there will be no designated Team Leader. Leadership is naturally given to the individual whose skills and style best match the objective at hand. For example, individuals (78) and (83) often lead hands-on process study work where it has to be done the right way, the first time. This includes managing and keeping track of the many details associated with this kind of work. One of these individuals was quoted as saying “you innovators go work on that long term stuff and let us adaptors get this pilot running and generating data”. The feedback was happily accepted! Individual (113) leads exploratory studies aimed at getting important physical and kinetic data needed for flow sheet process design. Individual (101) leads the Team through plant scale-up tests. His ability to coordinate work activities between all styles and situations is excellent. Individuals (121) and (133) take the leadership role when major obstacles block the work of the Team, as well as provide the long term vision for the Team and where the possible end results are hazy. Further, individual (121) is very articulate and extremely knowledgeable in the field. This individual usually acts as the spokesperson for the team.

This Team faced many roadblocks, and even when it appeared stopped by seemingly impossible situations, it was completely supported by the Management Team, and continued its work. And with time, Team HK overcame all the major obstacles it faced, and was incredibly successful. To date it has produced a series of new products which are currently undergoing field tests. The initial field test results appear promising. The technology developed by this team has an great chance of achieving commercial viability.

Team’s Accomplishments Compared

A summary of each Team’s accomplishments is shown in Table 8. Team HK had demonstrated the highest success of all the sub-teams. This team was readily alerted to and consciously made use of the differences of cognitive styles existing in the team. This presented an excellent opportunity to survey each of the sub-team members to determine what type of problems existed in their teams and how these problems would correlate to the predictions based on Kirton Theory.

Table 8

Summary of technical results

Revelation of sub teams


Team Major results as of 30/12/92

PX Produced series of new raw materials on time. Currently having series of seeming “unsolvable” problems

KAT New raw materials made, but did not meet performance and timing requirements

PA Developed new product using know technology in lab on time, but having trouble with scale-up of products for market testing

HK Developed new product using new technology successfully scaled-up eight new products now undergoing market tests. Proprietary “breakthrough” patent position filed


To help determine this information, a High Performance Team Questionnaire was developed based on some criteria developed by both McGregor and Likert, as well as from personal work. The questionnaire contained thirteen characteristics associated with effective teams. The team members on each sub-team were asked to rate each of the characteristics using a scale of from 1 to 10 (10 for excellent, 1 for very poor) as follows:

The importance of each of the characteristics of your team

How well your team is performing in each of the characteristics.

For each characteristic, the mean was determined. The ratio of mean of “performance” to “importance” was calculated. This would normalise the data and would help determine how well the team was doing. For example a ratio of 0.7 would be fair, 0.8 would be good, and above 0.9 would be high effective. A gap analysis was determined by subtracting the mean for “performance” by the mean for “importance”. A gap greater than (-1) was considered significant. Also, the range of scores was recorded for each particular characteristic to help spot individual scores that were far from the mean. Five of the thirteen characteristics were chosen as items that might be impacted by lack of knowledge or application of Kirton Theory. The results of the gap analysis for these characteristics are shown in Table 9.

Table 9

High performane team inventory results

GAP Analysis

Team characteristics


Relating to Kirton Concepts KAT PX PA HK

Open/Honest Communication -1.8 -1.5 -1.3 -1.1

Mutual Trust -0.5 -2.4 -2.6 -1.0

Management of Human Differences -1.5 -1.8 -2.4 -0.3

Mutual Respect for Team Leader & Members -0.3 -1.3 -1.3 -0.3

Timely Appropriate Decision Making -3.0 -4.1 -3.4 -0.4


© HPT Inventory: Thirteen Characteristics of a High Performing Team Developed by W. Diana

The data shown for Team KAT, is not complete and is suspect. Two of the six-team members refused to fill out the questionnaire for fear that their input would be traced back to them. Thus it is strongly believed that the gap scores would be far more negative. The data for Teams PX, PA, and HK correlate well with the predictions. The ratio of the mean of “performance” to “importance” was determined for the five characteristics for each of the sub-teams. These data are shown in Table 10.

Table 10

High performance team inventory results

Performance to Importance Ratio


Team characteristics RATIO SCORES FOR:

Relating to Kirton Concepts KAT PX PA HK

Open/Honest Communication 0.81 0.85 0.85 0.88

Mutual Trust 0.94 0.73 0.73 0.90

Management of Human Differences 0.82 0.81 0.70 0.96

Mutual Respect for Team Leader & Members 0.97 0.86 0.84 0.97

Timely Appropriate Decision Making 0.66 0.55 0.63 0.96


The data shows that the individuals on Teams KAT, PX, and PA felt that they were not as effective as they believed they ought to be. Team HK felt that their team was effective. Yet, even this team, as successful as it was, has opportunities for additional improvement – but then, don’t we all!

The RFPD&C Team – A Deliberate Adjustment Towards Innovative Style

The Revelation Facility Process Design and Construction Team was created to build equipment for Team HK. The RFPD&C team consisted of skilled craftsmen who were asked to break an existing work paradigm. They were asked literally “to build something to make something”. Due to the tight two-year “invention to semi-scale production” R&D requirement, the HK Team needed to have pilot sized equipment in place ready to test concepts. Normally, the following sequence of steps takes place:

1. The research work that is to be carried out is well defined.

2. Engineers devise a process basis and a facility flow plan.

3. A cost estimate is developed.

4. An appropriate request is submitted.

5. Funds are approved.

6. The project is designed.

7. Construction begins.

8. The facility is built.

This entire process can take from 1 – 11/2 years to complete. Team HK however had an idea what kind of equipment it would need, but couldn’t afford the time to build a pilot unit in the traditional manner. It would have to build something that was so flexible it could be used to test whatever Team HK needed. Management supported this approach and funds were approved. The next step was to get the equipment built as soon as possible.

Table 11

Revelation facility

Process design and construction team

“An empowered team”

Mission : Build “Something” to Make “Something”


Function KAI SCORE DELTA

Electrician 80 -31

Pipe Fitter 80 -31

Designer 83 -28

Senior Mechanical Designer 97 -14

Electrician 98 -13

Computer & Electrical Design 98 -13

Electrician 99 -12

Computer Applications 103 -8

Pipe Fitter 103 -8

Equipment Procurement 103 -8

Equipment Procurement 108 -3

Project Engineer 111 0 Leader

Construction Mechanic 116 +5

____

Mean 98


The RFPD&C Team was formed, and Team HK’s engineer (133) would be the owner of the facility and would act as the customer for the project as well as facilitate (knowledgeable in Kirton Theory) for the design and construction team. The KAI data for the RFPD&C Team is shown in Table 11.

This Team’s mean of (98) is near the engineer population mean; is adaptive to the Project Engineer (111) assigned to the project, and very adaptive to its customer, the HK engineer (133). Further, this was the Project Engineer’s first major assignment. Needless to say, there was considerable concern given the situation at hand as well as the styles diversity on this team, especially since some of the individuals on the team were locked into “doing things the way they are supposed to be done”. Thus, early on in the project, considerable team building effort was employed essentially at coaching the Team Members to be willing to adopt coping behaviour away from their preferred styles, as well as to empower them to make use of their skills and know-how. The message was “you have been building units for years. You know how to build these things better than anyone else. There have been so many instances when you could have built it better than you were told or were expected to do. This time you have the opportunity to apply all your know-how into building something that can make most anything, without being told exactly what to do”. Initially the work proceeded slowly along classical lines and it appeared that the unit was not going to be ready when it would be needed. “Having things not checked before being built was uncomfortable”. However, the team began to “gel” and an outstanding pilot unit was built just in time for Team HK. The result of the RFPD&C Team’s work is shown in Table 12.

Table 12

RFPD&C Team Results

  • Built versatile pilot facility which was put to immediate use
  • Breakthrough results achieved in pilot unit within 6 weeks after start-up
  • Pilot facility more than met customer requirements
  • ‘Plusses’ that the owner got as a result of team empowerment

Unique feed charging vessel
Unique receiver
Flexible vessel heaters which can be moved out of the way
Portable hot boxes
Use of idle equipment which saved $$$$$$s
Numerous safety improvements
Project cost within capital appropriation
Etc

Today this unit is in constant use, and is often used as a showcase for VIP tours. It stands as an example of what can be done when individuals recognise and blend both skills and styles. Further, applying Kirton Technology can facilitate the empowerment process.

Conclusions

Some of the conclusions that were reached from this work include those shown in Table 13. Each team, formed naturally, contained individuals with a wide variety of cognitive styles, which were independent of skills. Further most of the individuals were unaware of style diversity issues, and how differences would impact their team. KAI was accurate in measuring styles, and the information from KAI analysis was useful in predicting team process problems. Although Kirton information and recommendations were supplied to team members and leaders it was not generally readily utilised. However, where it was accepted, by individuals on teams, and by an entire team, excellent results were achieved. One team achieved the “impossible”.

Table 13

Conclustions

  • Wide range of creative styles normally exist on teams
  • A-I Theory is accurate, powerful and useful
  • For analysis of teams
  • For prediction of areas of concern
  • As a basis for team building workshops and interventions
  • Use Kirton’s Theory well, early and with all members participating
  • It takes more than skills and hard work to ‘achieve the impossible’
  • Facilitation (internal/external) plays a major role in high performing teams

Future Work
Some of the Revelation sub-teams have expressed an interest in revisiting Kirton Technology and applying it to their teams. Also as a result of this study, other Teams – in the organisation not related to the Revelation Team – have expressed an interest in using Kirton Technology in their team building process. This work will be carried out in the near future.

Editor’s Note: Bill Diana sent this case study for the use of other A-I users.

Originally published 1994