As an INTJ personality type, one area of potential conflict and misunderstanding I experience in working with detail-motivated people like ISTJs is how differently we approach tasks and how apt we both are to judge others who don’t do “what we would do.”
One thing I find interesting about my job is learning about medical issues: a rule I was testing depended on something called “GFR” – Glomerular filtration rate. GFR is the rate at which blood passes through the kidneys. Based on the patient’s race, and a lab observation of creatinine, we display different messages because the GFR is calculated differently for African Americans. When I shared this learning with others, I was met with disinterest or a reaction of “you don’t have time to waste on that/you don’t need to know that to do your job.” Seriously? I thought that kind of thinking was just apocryphal big company culture. For me, not knowing what “GFR” meant slowed me down and made me feel stupid. Now it is a part of my understanding of our product in the same basic way that knowing that hyperkalemia…hyper…K…has something to do with too much potassium…or that hypernatremia…hyper…Na…has something to do with too much sodium. It’s probably oversimplification, but it’s enough for me to organize the information in my brain so add to my intuitive understanding of what I’m doing.
I run into that kind of thing often. The part of the job that others see as irrelevant or a waste of time, is the part of the job that is most interesting to me. And far from being a distraction, it is the thing that motivates me to get the job done–the opportunity to learn new things. If you take that away–I don’t know how I get any work done! For other people, it must seem a distraction, but they are wrong to assume that removing “distractions,” can increase “productivity.” I don’t really know what any of that means; I just want to solve a problem and learn something new.
This came up dramatically in a task delegation project recently. We attempted to “divide and conquer:” One person is responsible for figuring out how to collect the data; the other is responsible for presenting it. What a terrible idea (for me anyway!) The interesting part is finding the answer to the problem, not taking a bunch of numbers and displaying them on a screen. And yet, you cannot really solve the problem without doing both because ultimately the solution is to provide a useful business dashboard to decision makers and operational staff. It’s not just annoying to be told to focus on a part of the problem; I can’t do it. I second guess the other person and basically wait until they go on vacation so I can do their part over and understand it myself. Once you understand the system…it’s just some details to solve the problem. But without the big picture…it’s gibberish.
Now I understand other people think differently. I wish I had a half dozen of those people working for me because as systems and problems become more complex, “just some details,” always turns into a lot of mindless drudgery…searching through code for an improperly-placed semicolon or parenthesis or finally realizing there’s a typo. The intellectually-difficult tasks take minutes to solve, but then, getting the details right is what takes days. At least for me, what can keep me going is the satisfaction of solving the bigger problem; knowing you have the gist of it done and just needing the hack away until it works. Without that perspective…how can anyone be motivated?