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Between sessions 1 and 2, each course participant was given a login and asked to complete the 4D-i assessment from One Smart World. Our second session together involved examining and interpreting our individual results, connecting with others who received similar results, and learning about those who had different results.

The Assessment

The 4D-i is an inventory of your personal operating style – your preferred methods to solve problems, make decisions, and communicate with others. For the purposes of this blog post, I will be greatly simplifying the 4D-i, but for more information you can visit the website, especially the sample portfolio.

The first part of the results is your colour which indicates your overall preference. There are three possibilities:

Red – Decision-Making

Red thinkers like to stop the process and get straight to making decisions and solving problems. They use strategies such as getting to the heart of issues, relying on past experience to guide actions, and listening to their gut feelings to move forward decisively.

Yellow – Understanding

Yellow thinkers slow down the process to gather data and understand people’s feelings. They collect, organize, and analyse information, express their own feelings and empathize with the opinions of others, and seek clarity on both fronts before taking action.

Green – Creating

Green thinkers delve into the process to generate more insights, ideas, and viewpoints. They brainstorm, seek out alternative problems and solutions, challenge current ideas and methods, and use their intuition to guide decision making.

Along with your colour, you are also categorized as warm, cool, or balanced. Warm thinkers prefer emotional strategies such as expressing feelings, empathizing with others, trusting your own heart, and making decisions based on your personal values. Cool thinkers employ logical strategies, including getting to the crux of a problem, gathering data, asking questions, and using past experiences. Balanced thinkers are equally comfortable using emotional and logical strategies.

The final section is a score of your Personal Spirit, which includes the strength of your outlook on life or challenging situations, your sense of having control to impact others in positive ways, and your initiative in the face of difficult tasks.

The Results

I came out of this process identified as a Balanced Yellow, with a slight edge for emotional over logical thinking, and as high in personal spirit with my initiative being my strongest factor. After discussing with fellow yellows, I found this to be a very accurate description of how I operate. It takes me time to come to a decision. When faced with a difficult decision or problem, my first instinct is to gather, structure, and organize all available and pertinent information systematically. I also take into account how different solutions or possibilities will make me feel. Further, if other people will be implicated in or affected by this problem or decision, then I feel strongly that I need to gather their thoughts, opinions, and feelings, and do my utmost to arrive at a conclusion that will be satisfying to everyone. I would definitely classify myself as a people pleaser – I want everyone to be on board with decisions and action plans when working in a team. On the flip side, I can sometimes find the whole process of making decisions exhausting. As well, because of my operating style, I have been described by friends and family as being very indecisive, which they can find at times quite frustrating. As a future leader, I need to be aware of the way my time-consuming actions are perceived by others.

Red was my second highest preference, with a very strong score in being values-driven when making decisions as well as needing to ensure that my solutions and conclusions are valid. However, I was almost angry at myself that I scored 0 (meaning I have no preference) for following my gut intuition to make a decision. After some reflection, I realized that I do sometimes have a gut feeling at the start of a problem or decision process. And occasionally after my exhaustive information gathering and emotional soul-searching, the conclusion I arrive at is in fact the one my gut told me at the start. Yet I cannot bring myself to trust my gut and just make a quick decision. As a future leader, I will need to work on improving this strategy so that I don’t frustrate my team with the time it takes for me to arrive at decisions.

Green was my lowest preference. It was actually by far the least prevalent operating system in the room. Out of the 30 or so people in the course, I believe there were only two people who showed a strong preference for green creative thinking. As a teacher of Dramatic Arts, a class where I work to foster and encourage creative thinking and taking time to explore during the creative process, I was upset that I scored so low in my preference for using creative strategies in my own life. I also thought with further reflection that the generally low scores among the 30 of us in this course might be a symptom of the school system and of our larger society. Many of us have seen Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk “How Schools Kill Creativity”. Taking the time to brainstorm, seeking alternative solutions or even alternative questions, envisioning new possibilities and scenarios – all of these strategies are often discouraged in favour of taking decisive action and moving forward with initiatives. As a future leader, I need to remember to practice what I preach to my Drama students (and to my students in my other courses for that matter) and take time to explore and experiment, as well as encouraging my team to do so.

Finally, after hearing from my fellow yellows as well as the greens and reds in the room, the importance of shared, team-based leadership (one of my personal goals from my post-session 1 reflection) really sunk in. Successful leadership would come from a team of leaders, each with slightly different preferences, who could bring a balanced approach to challenges.

Now I’d like to hear from you – for anyone else who has done the 4D-i assessment: What were your results? Did you feel that they accurately described your operating style? How are you using your knowledge of your preferences to affect how you approach problems or how you work on a team? For anyone who hasn’t done the assessment: What colour do you think is your preference? Are you a warm emotional thinker, or a cool logical thinker? Which colour preference do you think would be the best for an effective leader to have? Do you see any other advantages or disadvantages to each colour preference? I’m looking forward to your comments.

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