What It Is
The Kolbe System is similar to personality or intelligence tests that we have all taken. However, Kolbe measures something completely different, Conative Ability - your instinctive method of operation (MO). Different roles in a design firm require you to solve problems in different ways. A large part of why two smart people with pleasant personalities and similar experience cannot do the same job equally well is the difference in their instinctive method of operation. None of us do everything really well and this explains why - and also what you would be very good at.
The Kolbe System seems like a well-kept secret. I never hear about it, but I have been using it for over 15 years - and so have a lot of big companies. Kolbe is not just for designers, it is for everyone. And it is not crazy expensive. The ’A’ Index, which is the main tool you would be interested in, is just $50 per person. Check it out at www.kolbe.com
The main thing that Kolbe helps with is hiring, but by measuring everyone's instinctive method of operation you have a basis for building teams that really work.
The index (exam) is just 36 questions where you mark two choices each, your most likely and your least likely response to a situation. From your answers results are available right away. Your personal index in four areas is measured. Those areas are:
Fact Finder, is how you gather and share information
Follow Thru, is how you arrange and design
Quick Start, is how you deal with risks and uncertainty
Implementor, is how you handle space and tangibles
Everyone lies on a scale of 1-10 for each of these four instincts. Usually you have one that is dominant, your index is the highest in it. The higher your ranking in one of the four measurements, the more likely you are to operate in that way. The lower your ranking, the more likely you are to resist operating in that way.
How We Found Kolbe Works For Us
As Kolbe applies to a typical architect’s office we found that:
High Fact Finder combined with high Follow Thru makes for a good administrative assistant
High Quick Start will do well with sales and design
High Follow Thru with medium Fact Finder and Quick Start makes a good project manager
High Implementor for field work
All mid range indexes is a chameleon - can adapt to whatever needs to be done. This combination and also a combination of high Follow Thru with mid-to-high Fact Finder and Quick Start and low Implementor also makes a good all-around person.
Potential problem profiles:
High Implementor with high Fact Finder is someone who likes to research in person. Design takes forever. Specs take forever. There is always another idea to be explored
Low Quick Start likes the status quo: very conservative designer, good at following procedure, not comfortable in off-the-cuff situations
The higher the Implementor the more the person needs to touch it or see it, could work out for renovations but wants to build models of everything.
Low Fact Finder means the last thing that occurs to them is to do research. Codes tend to bite them in the ass every time.
You can see how teams can make sense.
Visit the Kolbe website. You can see the 'A' Index questions there.
Download this 2007-era A Index Report to see the kind of things you will learn about yourself and your team mates.