It Takes All Kinds: Managing our World

We’ve all seen that office that is “neat as a pin” because there is a “place for everything and everything is in its place.” On the other end of the spectrum we have all seen that office that always looks like a hurricane went through. Clearly it must be a matter of laziness if someone doesn’t put the paper in its alphabetical slot the second they are done with it... right? Possibly. More likely, the different organizational styles are symptoms of how a person naturally prefers to manage the world around them.

Preference: Dynamic

People who prefer a dynamic management system love new situations and the surprises they bring (e.g. troubleshooting). When things are happening they like to go where things take them. As a result, they are less likely to create extensive plans. After all, if you focus on the plan to go left, you won’t even see the potentially better options available if you go right. Also, for people with a dynamic management preference, when they are in the flow of the moment it feels natural to stay there unless something more dynamic (interesting, important, etc.) changes their trajectory. Think Newton's First Law of Motion. This is why they don’t put the paper away, in its alphabetical slot, across the room, the second they are done with it. They are too busy going straight into the next step of the project. Not so lazy after all.


Preference: Structure

People who prefer a structured management system like to have a clear understanding of how the world around them is working. So, they bring their own with them. They carry with them an organizational system or a plan that they can use in every situation, including new situations. Their plans are based on their ideas about how the world should work. It might be based on personal values, prior experiences, facts, or care for the wellbeing of others. They take this idea of how the world should work and determine whether or not the world, the people around them, and they themselves adequately meet their expectations. If it doesn’t meet muster, they will happily come up with a plan to fix the problem. System failure or straying too far from the plan tends to create anxiety.



Things to consider when you would like someone with a dynamic preference to use a more organized process:

  1. Make your case and make it impactful. If you need them to change trajectory, make sure they understand why the thing is important now or in the near future.
  2. Dynamic folks work better with some structure to direct their energy, but you may need to relax on your idea of what structure looks like. For instance, Strategic Piles can work as part of an organizational system as long as the only person who needs to find something is the person doing the piling. If you regularly need to find something that a piler also uses, the most sustainable option is to ask them to regularly set times for filing, cleaning, etc. whatever they’ve been using.
  3. If you would like a more sustainable organization system that actually work for those with a dynamic preference, stay tuned. My next blog series is going to be time management and organization tips that work for those with a dynamic preference!

Things to consider when you would like someone with a structure preference to stay more open and flexible:

  1. Give as much warning as possible.
  2. Give as much information as possible.
  3. If you are dynamic, use your talent for troubleshooting to come up with a new plan based as closely as possible on the original plan that will allow you to include the new factors (or awesome opportunity available to you if you turn right).
  4. If a rapid significant departure of the plan is needed, make sure you create a complete and compelling argument for change.