If anyone had told me, even at the beginning of 2000 when we first registered Elaura as a company, that I would spend the next few decades of my life helping people and organisations with a psychometric profiling tool from Texas, I would have told them they were crazy. Or that they had the wrong Jon Mason.

And I would have had good reason for that. I had done plenty of psychometrics, well-known and otherwise, although none really voluntarily; and I hadn’t really enjoyed the experience, ever. At best they were a necessary evil. Generally, they appeared to function by constructing a conceptual box, and then attempting to fit you in (or fit you up). In my experience, this meant having to leave large portions of my (metaphorical) anatomy on the workbench. This - rather unhelpfully - reinforced my self-perception that there must be something wrong with me - I never easily fit into the categories these tools were using.

So my hostility, when I was asked to trial the Birkman Method (as part of a project), was real; as was my intention to “set the clock”, make the thing look stupid and get it off the agenda so we could all get on with our lives. It did however, resist my best efforts…

Instead of another box-y experience, I found myself having a series of profound “light-bulb” moments, not all of them comfortable (I was having to revisit some scenes of conflict and realise that I might have been misperceiving a great deal of what had happened); but immensely cathartic and affirming. It literally changed my life. And so I jumped on a plane to Texas, as soon as I could.

And that is what I love about this tool (cathartic and affirming and with super-high levels of recognition). Instead of sticking people in a box, Dr Roger W Birkman’s simple little Questionnaire captures the apparent contradictions, paradoxes and creative tensions, and presents them in a way that illuminates the past and offers options for the future. And there is nothing self-indulgent about this: the most fulsome commendations I ever hear tend to be from GMs managing large, multi-cultural teams, in high-performance organisational cultures: they are the ones who say “this is the best thing I have ever done”. Birkman remains the only tool I have ever heard anyone relate to with deep and genuine affection - “my Birkman…”, and in fact I hear that all the time.

This deceptively simple Questionnaire (and far from simplistic Report; it is the most fine-grained, accurate and stable data set in this field, by several hundred Texas miles) changes peoples lives. It changed mine. It does the same for my clients. Which is why we persist in training others to use the tool as Certified Consultants, even though people keep asking me why I am “building direct competitors for our consulting business”. Honest answer: a) we’re pretty good at this stuff by now, so I am not that worried, but b) I would do this anyway; as (many) more than one client has said to me over the years, everyone in the world needs this.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Birkman Certification - whether you are an established coach (or planning to become one) or an internal HR / Talent / OD person - email training@elaura.com and we’ll get back to you with details and upcoming training dates in Singapore.

Originally posted on LinkedIn - Published June 6, 2016