3. The Manager (Strategist-Planner)
These individuals primarily see themselves as foresight strategists or planners, guiding or facilitating a group toward preferable futures. On the KAI test, managers are a mix of Adaptor-Innovator. They tend to be slightly extroverted, good with people, and a mix of analytical and intuitive. Managers seek to steer their organization to plan and fulfill various agendas, working toward what are sometimes called normative (values-driven) futures. Those agendas may be handed to them, or handed out by them, in a top-down fashion, or they may be elicited or facilitated bottom-up, from a constituency, by the manager. Managers try to balance all the actors, factors, and resources necessary to guiding the organization toward a set of preferable futures.
Managers tend to be practical and results oriented. They see themselves as stewards of an agenda, and the best seek to keep themselves accountable to that agenda. Managers can be found in any industry and function, and the best ones work in ways that use some blend of all three cognitive styles. Our preferable futures are always impacted by the possible (chance) and the probable (necessity). We seek to reach them in the face of both the unpredictable and the predictable processes in the world.
Some managers lead via facilitation. They strive to get their clients or employees to explore the future themselves and to express and own their own views of it. They are tolerant of divergent views, and seek to have their community gain experiences, and conduct experiments. Other managers lead by vision. Whether managers develop their own views of the future or adopt someone else’s, they try to guide the firm toward that vision. The best can use both facilitative, bottom-up leadership and visionary, top-down leadership depending on context. They support both the creatives-innovators-disruptors and the anticipator-protectors-sustainers in their stakeholder community. Some are attracted to integral approaches to thinking (see Ken Wilber) and they like to balance technical and holistic styles of management.
In your orientation to the future, would you prefer to spend most of your time as an Anticipator, a Creative, or a Manager? Perhaps some blend of two? Or of all three? Which styles are best suited to your current role, industry, department, methods, client, or project?
We should never get so rooted in our preferred cognitive style(s) that we cease working with talented people from the other styles. If we do, we become less effective at working in and managing a styles-diverse team. Very often a project will advance best only by employing more folks with styles that you don’t have, and giving them a sufficient mix of direction and autonomy to do great work.