On Presenting KAI Scores

M.J. Kirton, 1993.

Why are KAI scores not presented back to individuals in “boxes” but always located on a continuum, which is in accordance with best practices?

One reason is that many clients have a marked distaste to being “squeezed into boxes”. This may in part be a matter of personality, but it does make excellent scientific sense, because putting scores into boxes makes for inaccurate feedback.

Let’s take an example. Four people who form a team A, B, C and D have KAI scores of 76, 95, 96, and 115 respectively. The consultant is concerned with team cohesion and effectiveness – several large companies now use KAI this way – and predicts to the team possible future problems relating to B and C falling out, under work stress with either A or D; alternatively, with encouragement, they could become useful potential bridgers between A and D. Now put these scores into boxes and re-examine these predictions and the insights based on them:

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Now we find the predictions are that A and B will get on (as far as their problem solving styles are concerned) but may have to unravel a cognitive clash with C and D combined. Not quite the same view as before! We could complicate matters for the team if we supposed that a new consultant dropped in, after some months, and in the middle of a crisis (!), and re-administered KAI. The scores for A, B, C and D now turn out this time to be negligibly different from before: 77, 94, 97, 114, indeed miraculously on the expected target! See how this looks in boxes (below) and see how predictions based on boxes alter whilst scores on a continuum remain stable. It looks as if, should cognitive clash now occur, A and C might combine against B and D. What faith can the consultant generate in measures now?

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So why do some presenters use boxes? One reason I have heard tell is that it is simpler for their clients. In my experience I have never had to deal with groups who cannot manage continuous measurement – like height, heat or bank balances!

Whatever the reasons for this bad practice – avoid it.