50 years on from Carl Jung’s death, it was interesting to read the BBC’s Mark Vernon reflecting on how Jung would see the world today. As the father of modern personality tests and a pioneer in helping humans see the importance of “delving deep”, Jung’s contribution to modern society goes beyond the simplicity of type theory. Jung’s ideas have clearly made an impact on the world today, including his famous ideas about introversion or extroversion.
However, for us, the key question Vernon should have asked was ‘what would Jung think about his ideas still being used in modern businesses’? I’m convinced he would be appalled at how some of his theories are used to type, box and undermine people in the name of psychometrics. Jung would love that Lumina Spark is merging his ideas with an empirical approach, to provide business with a more accurate portrait of their employees.
Seeing how Lumina has helped us ‘delve deeper’ into areas of Emotional Intelligence and personal risk taking would warm Jung’s heart. However I wonder whether he would be happy to be remembered as the father of Myers Briggs and type theory (MBTI). Jung refused to take Isabel Myers earlier questionnaire in the 1950’s, although wished her luck in her quest to provide a tool to measure his attitudes.
The beauty for me of MBTI when I used it in the 1990’s, was the ease in which you could provide an accurate look at someone’s most important personality facets. It was superb at offering instant insight, like having a Jung in the room. However, there was also a nagging doubt that we were oversimplifying the human condition. Whenever I would meet someone who challenged their profile, I would dive deep into the benefits of the work, over the integrity of the theory.
We now know the truth – there are no personality types. While it’s a brilliantly simple idea, and a remarkably useful paradigm, it’s not completely accurate! Similarly, the beautifully simplistic four colour archetypes we use in Lumina is amazingly beneficial to understanding users personality and those of their colleagues. However it’s the 24 personality qualities that Lumina measures that provides the depth and true understanding that Jung would recognise and see necessary. In fact in Jung’s later writing, he virtually ignored type altogether and was far more interested in the depth, the shadow and more complex layers of personality.
I believe the area Jung would really celebrate in Lumina’s ground-breaking approachis the simple yet effective principle of “embracing paradox”. Few of us are true “introverts” or “extraverts” alone. We embrace both at different times. While we may have a preference for one or the other, neither are what we are all the time. Embracing paradox means we measure the true complexity and contradiction that is the reality of every human being.
Fresh from a programme with emerging leaders at one of the UK’s leading radio groups, I can see the impact Lumina Spark has had on the group and the business as a whole. It is evident how a deeper more complex understanding is possible, and is leading to more effective relationships, more productive teams and more enlightened management. And I don’t think Jung would be upset about that.
Perhaps Jung would be shocked that 50 years on, type theory, tests that force choice, label and type-cast individuals, would remain so prevalent in business. Academics across the globe have almost universally embraced a more flexible (and empirical) view of personality that we call trait theory. Lumina uses this, and marries it with Jung’s work, to produce a truly humanistic version of a personality that is useful and accurate in a business environment. We think Jung would be proud.
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