As planners know, there’s more than one way to accomplish a complex task. Recognizing your work style and that of your co-workers goes a long way toward making all the parts of your project mesh before you reach the finish line. Here’s a new way of looking at personality types.
Sparklebrains are artistic, creative, idea people. They can be found zipping around, high on caffeine, starting projects left and right—but never quite finishing any of them. Following up is not their strong suit.
Here’s how Sparklebrains plan: They envision a project, skip step one, start at step 27, pause to visualize their goal (step 100), put off step three until tomorrow, then jump to step 21. They drive everyone crazy, but somehow they create fabulous projects overall because they’re so creative and because they’re so great at enlisting others to finish their work for them. You can help Sparklebrains by agreeing with them on the goal ahead of time, and then gently guiding them toward it.
Linears are the opposite of Sparklebrains. Some people call them pluggers because they just keep plugging away. Linears are the finishers of the world. In fact, Linears spend lots of time finishing what Sparklebrains start.
Here’s how Linears plan: They set up the steps they are going to take, figuring them out ahead of time and in the correct order, and then proceed toward their goal.
When working, Linears go into a kind of alternate universe where time doesn’t matter, and they’ll take as long as they need to finish a project. You cannot rush them, so don’t even try. Weeks turn into months, the original project still isn’t done and nobody knows why. Help our Linear friends by reprioritizing due dates for them.
The Cross-Dominant is a hybrid of the Linear and Sparklebrain. They can use either side of their brains, and often use both sides at once. When they focus on constructive tasks, they can move mountains.
Here’s how Cross-Dominants plan: They look first at the main objective, then fit the rest in like puzzle pieces. They are experts at triage.
When Cross-Dominants are organized, they make great directors, managers and leaders. They naturally view both the big picture and the small details at the same time, and they can make all the parts blend seamlessly.
When Cross-Dominants are disorganized, they feel as if they’re at the tail end of a game of crackthe- whip. Their minds are rapidly switching back and forth from detail to overview, from their own needs to other people’s needs, and from Project A to Project Z. Be understanding, and try to give Cross-Dominants the space they need.