There are a broad variety of assessments available for measuring how people may perform at work and in life, and how they get along with others, their style, etc. You may have taken one of these: DISC, Predictive Index, Myers-Briggs, Working Genius, StrengthsFinder, etc.

But there is one that is pretty unique that may not have crossed your path but it should. It is the Kolbe Index, innovated by a fantastic woman named Kathy Kolbe.

As a past member of Strategic Coach, I was introduced to the Kolbe assessment. As opposed to measuring personality, energy or mindset, it measures conative instincts – simply put, how one approaches solving a problem. Since, as entrepreneurs, we often default to problem-solving mode, this simple 4-number score can be a powerful driver of not only self-awareness, but also cooperation and productivity when applied within your team.

But first, a quick overview on the Kolbe. 

The Kolbe A assessment measures four modes of operation: Fact Finder, Follow Through, Quick Start and Implementer.

Definitions of these modes are:

Fact Finder:  how you gather information

Follow Through: how you organize information

Quick Start: how you deal with risk and uncertainty

Implementer: how you handle space and tangibles.

Within each of the modes, you can be counteractive (1-3), accommodating (4-6), or initiating (7-10) – indicated by the number reflected in your score. Your behavior sequence will follow the numbers higher to lower (range is 1-10). So, let me share a bit about my score. I am a 3295.

3295 — This reflects that I am a:

3 Fact Finder

2 Follow Through

9 Quick Start

5 Implementer

So, how does that show up in the workplace? When I am problem-solving it will look something like:

9 Quick Start: improvise, brainstorm, experiment, promote alternatives

5 Implementor: test ingredients, convert space, remove obstacles (real and imagined)

3: Fact Finder: distill information, approximate the particulars, see the big picture

2 Follow Thru: change tasks frequently, derive shortcuts, thrive on interruption, and if I must say… tolerating some level of disorganized chaos!!

For some of you this will seem familiar and for others it will sound foreign, but the goal is not to change who we are and how we operate, it is to understand ourselves AND to understand how these modes help us or challenge us when we work with our team.

My Chief of Staff, Kristin, is a 6871 which is WILDLY different than my 3295. It is what allows us to work very well together but also can be the greatest source of conflict in our collaboration. (See the A-to-A comparison overview below.)

BUT because we have awareness and appreciation of each other’s Kolbes, when we find ourselves in conflict, we are able to have productive conversations and take action to resolve the conflict and maximize our differences for a positive outcome. 

I share this because if you have been feeling frustrated by trying to adopt a way of operating that just won’t work despite others’ success, or if you are experiencing conflict with your team and are not sure why, you may want to implement the Kolbe A as a tool.

Something I have heard over the years that has become a favorite saying of mine is “once you know, you can’t not know.” By using Kolbe it allows us the ability to “know”—know why we approach things the way we do—and it gives a common language to our differences and similarities, as well as a little compassion and grace for each other!!

That is the true power of a tool like Kolbe. Thanks Kathy!


Founder of the align5 Companies,  CEO of Scaling Up Coaches, and Serial Entrepreneur

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