Statistical Thinkers in the Minority

Article Revised: March 26, 2019

INTJ (Introversion, iNtuition, Thinking, Judgment) is an abbreviation used in the publications of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to refer to one of the sixteen personality types. According Wikipedia

Hallmark features of the INTJ personality type include independence of thought, strong individualism, creativity, and a desire for efficiency. People with this personality type work best given large amounts of autonomy and creative freedom. They harbor an innate desire to express themselves, that is, to be creative by conceptualizing their own intellectual designs. Among their greatest strengths are analyzing and formulating complex theories. INTJs are generally well-suited for occupations within academia, research, management, engineering, and law. They are often acutely aware of their knowledge and abilities, as well as their limitations and what they don’t know (a quality that tends to distinguish them from INTPs). INTJs thus develop a strong confidence in their ability and talents, making them natural leaders.

Furthermore, according to the Winner Foundation, “…a word which captures the essence of INTJs is builder – a builder of systems and the applier of theoretical models. To INTJs authority based on position, rank, title, or publication has absolutely no force.”

OMG, this is almost every successful Six Sigma Black Belt I know! Or successful engineer or manager for that matter. What I find amazing is that almost nobody else thinks like this. The reported number is around 1%. Just 1 in 100 people. Those of us who are trying to be effective change agents and trainers need to bear this in mind the next time we’re trying to make something new happen.

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  • Gene Barker April 4, 2009 at 2:10 pm Reply

    Being in the 1% group presents significant challenges. Others may be intimadated by INTJ. Most people are more comforatble using their gut rather than statistical data. And some statistician have not helped the situation because they fail to take the time to explain in terms that others can understand what the data means. Very few managers are INTJ. They are uncomfortable when being persuaded using facts and data, especially if the proposal is not intuitively obvious to them. And almost by definition solutions developed by Six Sigma Black Belts are anything but obvious. If the solution was obvious it would have already been proposed.

    It is important, if the INTJ is to be successful in selling her or his ideas, that they expend as much energy in packaging their ideas so that others will understand and support as they did in developing the concept. And that the benefits be framed so that they are of advantage to the person that has to approve and support the implementation. Just because it is “the right thing to do” doesn’t mean that it will be approved for implementation. Most managers want to know “What is in it for me?” or at least for the organization. They also want to be aware of any down side risks and what steps have been or need to be taken to mitigate these risks. Managers are seldom penalizied for rejecting a good idea because there is no way way of clearly knowing that this rejection was a bad decision. On the other hand a manager that approves an idea that fails is very visible and therefore subject to ridicule.

  • Kniles April 4, 2009 at 4:09 pm Reply

    This is an interesting topic that stimulates the following comments:
    – This blog is lacking context such as how the first letter is how we get energy (from others or by thinking alone). The second is how we collect information (N’s build models vs. S’s memorize). The third letter is what we do with the info (Think or feel). The last letter is how we make decisions (perceive or judge).
    – We all have all the letters in how we think … we just tend to use some more than others. So from time to time we all become INTJ’s.
    – I suggest the statistical thinking leader profile should be written as iNTj not INTJ to show how the N and T are what lead up to good statistical decision making.
    – A strong J by itself can be dangerous when judgments are made too quickly.


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