What is Your Builder Personality Type?

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So much has been written about leadership and entrepreneurship that one wonders whether anything new is possible.
Apparently, yes.
In their forthcoming book, Chris Kuenne and John Danner identify four distinct entrepreneur personality types. More importantly, they try to establish relationships between personality types and business success (or failure). The authors have used a patented analytic methodology (Personality Based Clustering) to arrive at their conclusions.
Drivers – are entrepreneurs who could just not be anything else. They are passionate about products/services and the markets/segments they serve. They have an intense focus on product/service characteristics and will not settle for anything but the best. Drivers do not like the complexity of launching new ventures, and assume that “the rest of the world will eventually catch up with their wisdom.”
Steve Jobs is a near-perfect example of a driver. His attention to aesthetic design and impeccable performance is at the heart of Apple’s success as the most valuable company in the world.
At the other end, Ken Olsen of Digital Equipment Corporation was a driver too. He and his board were so obsessed with engineering precision that they completely overlooked the rapid technological changes around them. As a result, a once-mighty company whose VAX series of minicomputers was unrivaled went into oblivion before being acquired by Compaq.
Explorers – are problem solvers. They think big and are willing to follow up on their dreams. Mark Zuckerberg is an explorer. “By giving people the power to share, we’re making the world more transparent.” It is not surprising that Facebook has nearly 2 billion monthly active users. On the other hand, consider Iridium, the global satellite phone company backed by Motorola, the first company to reach the 6-Sigma level in quality. The Iridium experiment can be classified as an explorer too. The ambition was as high as they come – to provide connectivity anywhere in the world. All the forecasts and assumptions proved wrong, and the experiment ended very quickly as one of the 20 largest bankruptcies in US history.
Crusaders – are entrepreneurs with a cause. Larry Page and Sergey Brin are crusaders. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. From zero to a market cap of 587 Billion in 20 years – what more can investors ask? Paul Polman of Unilever is another crusader who has become the poster boy for responsible capitalism. Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is a crusader too. But his much-touted $100 laptop failed to take off, leave alone reaching its desired objective. Among the many criticisms that the project has been subject to, the most important are its US-Centric approach to finding solutions, the similarity to asking people to eat cakes when they cannot afford bread, and the centralized, top-down organizational structure. Thus, a great idea quickly turned into a very controversial project. In any case, one can indeed buy a basic laptop for $75 or less, thanks to the economies of scale concept.
Captains – are obsessed with teams and collaboration. They find ways to identify reciprocal and complementary talents within the team to accomplish their mission. In that sense, captains are less individualistic than the other three types. Hewlett and Packard who pioneered “Managing By Walking Around” are examples of captains. In the contemporary scenario, Jack Ma of Alibaba whose slogan is “customers first, employees second, and shareholders third” is the classic example of a captain. At the other end, Kay Whitmore just blew it at Kodak, despite heading a company that invented the photographic film, the first digital camera, and the first mega-pixel camera.
It is obvious that each personality type has its fair share of strengths and weaknesses. The authors emphasize the need for diversity – to find “polar complements” – whose differences in perspective could lead to better solutions compared to unitary approaches.

To pre-order: Chris Kuenne and John Danner: Built for Growth: How Builder Personality Shapes Your Business, Your Team, and Your Ability to Win; Harvard Business Review Press (June 6, 2017); ISBN 1633692760.
To find out your personality type: HTTP://www.builtforgrowthBOOK.com


  1. Very interesting characterizations. Success must depend on many factors that play well into the personality type.


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