Strengths Finder

Strength Finder is a psychological test, for which I got a free pass by purchasing a book Go Put Your Strength to Work after First Break All The Rules by the same author. I’m very fascinated by the idea to focus on people strengths vs trying to fix their weaknesses. And here are my results: Signature Themes

Many years of research conducted by The Gallup Organization suggest that the most effective people are those who understand their strengths and behaviors. These people are best able to develop strategies to meet and exceed the demands of their daily lives, their careers, and their families.

A review of the knowledge and skills you have acquired can provide a basic sense of your abilities, but an awareness and understanding of your natural talents will provide true insight into the core reasons behind your consistent successes.

Your Signature Themes report presents your five most dominant themes of talent, in the rank order revealed by your responses to StrengthsFinder. Of the 34 themes measured, these are your “top five.”

Your Signature Themes are very important in maximizing the talents that lead to your successes. By focusing on your Signature Themes, separately and in combination, you can identify your talents, build them into strengths, and enjoy personal and career success through consistent, near-perfect performance.


Your Achiever theme helps explain your drive. Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by “every day” you mean every single day—workdays, weekends, vacations. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied. You have an internal fire burning inside you. It pushes you to do more, to achieve more. After each accomplishment is reached, the fire dwindles for a moment, but very soon it rekindles itself, forcing you toward the next accomplishment. Your relentless need for achievement might not be logical. It might not even be focused. But it will always be with you. As an Achiever you must learn to live with this whisper of discontent. It does have its benefits. It brings you the energy you need to work long hours without burning out. It is the jolt you can always count on to get you started on new tasks, new challenges. It is the power supply that causes you to set the pace and define the levels of productivity for your work group. It is the theme that keeps you moving.


“Wouldn’t it be great if . . .” You are the kind of person who loves to peer over the horizon. The future fascinates you. As if it were projected on the wall, you see in detail what the future might hold, and this detailed picture keeps pulling you forward, into tomorrow. While the exact content of the picture will depend on your other strengths and interests—a better product, a better team, a better life, or a better world—it will always be inspirational to you. You are a dreamer who sees visions of what could be and who cherishes those visions. When the present proves too frustrating and the people around you too pragmatic, you conjure up your visions of the future and they energize you. They can energize others, too. In fact, very often people look to you to describe your visions of the future. They want a picture that can raise their sights and thereby their spirits. You can paint it for them. Practice. Choose your words carefully. Make the picture as vivid as possible. People will want to latch on to the hope you bring.


The Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity. Mindful of these patterns, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, “What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?” This recurring question helps you see around the next corner. There you can evaluate accurately the potential obstacles. Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections. You discard the paths that lead nowhere. You discard the paths that lead straight into resistance. You discard the paths that lead into a fog of confusion. You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path—your strategy. Armed with your strategy, you strike forward. This is your Strategic theme at work: “What if?” Select. Strike.


“When can we start?” This is a recurring question in your life. You are impatient for action. You may concede that analysis has its uses or that debate and discussion can occasionally yield some valuable insights, but deep down you know that only action is real. Only action can make things happen. Only action leads to performance. Once a decision is made, you cannot not act. Others may worry that “there are still some things we don’t know,” but this doesn’t seem to slow you. If the decision has been made to go across town, you know that the fastest way to get there is to go stoplight to stoplight. You are not going to sit around waiting until all the lights have turned green. Besides, in your view, action and thinking are not opposites. In fact, guided by your Activator theme, you believe that action is the best device for learning. You make a decision, you take action, you look at the result, and you learn. This learning informs your next action and your next. How can you grow if you have nothing to react to? Well, you believe you can’t. You must put yourself out there. You must take the next step. It is the only way to keep your thinking fresh and informed. The bottom line is this: You know you will be judged not by what you say, not by what you think, but by what you get done. This does not frighten you. It pleases you.


You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public, and to write. This is your Communication theme at work. Ideas are a dry beginning. Events are static. You feel a need to bring them to life, to energize them, to make them exciting and vivid. And so you turn events into stories and practice telling them. You take the dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors. You believe that most people have a very short attention span. They are bombarded by information, but very little of it survives. You want your information—whether an idea, an event, a product’s features and benefits, a discovery, or a lesson—to survive. You want to divert their attention toward you and then capture it, lock it in. This is what drives your hunt for the perfect phrase. This is what draws you toward dramatic words and powerful word combinations. This is why people like to listen to you. Your word pictures pique their interest, sharpen their world, and inspire them to act.


20-70-10 is a Bad Gamification?

What are we talking about?

Recently Gamification has become a popular term. It is basically a behavioral psychology about applying techniques found in games to a non-game context.

20-70-10 is so called vitality curve invented by (ex-) General Electric CEO Jack Welch when all workforce is divided to 20% of best performing, 70% average and 10% under-performing people. This system encourages to highly reward 20% and get rid of 10%. It was used in Microsoft until recently.

Intrinsic motivation is internal motivation where person is motivated by joy of performing the task itself versus some external factors such as ranks or salary.

What is going on?

I suspect the reason why they got rid of this system in Microsoft is because it was discouraging collaboration, hurting team work and therefore company’s profits.

My problem with 20-70-10 rule is that it usually assumes that all people are competitive which is not true for 90% of the time. It substitutes intrinsic motivation with extrinsic one which in itself might make people less productive since substitution of intrinsic motivation with extrinsic one is known to cause decline in intrinsic motivation.

Another issue with the 20-70-10 is that it is always fixed numbers. Situation in real life is never exactly the same for all teams and even for the same team if changes with time. In this case it means because you have to fire 10% – you might end up firing really good developers instead of finding them a place in the company where they actually suit better.

I noticed that I myself was much more productive when I’m getting high fixed salary: it develops a sense in me that I am a highly paid professional and made me focus on my work versus focus on how to optimize my work in the system in order to get higher bonus.

All of that makes me think that 20-70-10 is unsustainable gamification: it substitutes intrinsic motivation with extrinsic one making people develop areas they are not good at and abandon leveraging their traits where they already good at.

If not 20-70-10 then what?

20-70-10 was designed to promote and support talented people and get rid of “unproductive” ones. If we get rid of this system then how do we know that people won’t stop working hard?

First of all I believe we have to define the goal. The goal is not to just motivate personal performance but to improve company’s performance. Therefore we need to think hard on what to do to get the most of all people, not just one individual.

It very well-known fact from game theory that collaboration beats competition. If you collaborate – you gain far more when you could competing vs others. And this is why there anti-trust laws are out there: to prevent unfair collaboration to benefit consumers. To me it is clear: there should be systems promoting collaboration instead of making people to compete against each other.

I’ve recently read book First Break All the Rules where they conducted huge research of managers and employees in attempt to find out how most productive teams and companies are different from everyone else. What they found was that the most effective teams were developing personal strengths of each individual employees and using those strengths in work versus attempting to make everyone the same.

In general I think that the most powerful approach to work with people is to encourage intrinsic motivations and not substitute them with extrinsic ones. I.e. advance them, teach them, encourage PMA and collaboration, help them develop their skills and talents and develop pride in the company, team and themselves. And I’m proud to say that AppDirect is a company which does just that.