What does it mean when an individual has four very short Organizational Focus bars?
As you begin running more Birkman reports, it is likely you will encounter a report where the participant has all short Organizational Focus bars. To understand the impact of this profile, it is important to understand how Organizational Focus is calculated. Organizational Focus represents a profile of people within similar job titles and job families. Based on research, we know that individuals in similar jobs tend to display similar behaviors and have common interests and needs.
If an individual has short bars, it is indicating that there is not a strong match with any of the 4 general color profiles. This may indicate that his/her behavior does not align with the general socialized patterns seen in society (norms) or conform to the typical Interest patterns. One way to confirm this would be to assess the number of Special Scores (Reversals). Another way would be to see if the individual displays a pattern of behavior for several Components not commonly seen in your everyday experience with Birkman data (i.e. High/High Esteem). Randomness in the Interests may also contribute to short Organizational Focus bars. When there is not a dominant concentration of related Interests, it may indicate that the individual is flexible in the types of activities s/he seeks out and not necessarily passionate about only one area.
The challenge that most consultants convey is communicating to the individual that there is little job match because of the uniqueness of his behavior. It is important to remember that just because a person has short Organizational Focus bars, it does not mean he/she is not suited for certain jobs or cannot be successful. It indicates that he/she does not match what is typically seen in those specialized roles. It may be more difficult to adjust to roles and a diverse set of strengths will be needed to succeed within a given role. When the individual is asked about past jobs, he/she typically confirms this very thing. The goal of the consultant should be to capitalize on the unique strengths of the individual and help the individual to see how he/she can be successful.
This type of individual can be an excellent liaison or bridge between departments in an organization. Due to the lack of intensity in any one color, the person is not burdened by the strong filters someone may have with an intense bottom line Blue bar, for example. Without a dominant filter, the individual will likely see the benefits and challenges of company direction from a variety of positions.
Okay, then how do I understand the difference between all short bars and all long bars?
Both will bring a strong "generalist" element to their choice of career, which can make it difficult to determine a specific career path, particularly for respondents with short bars. On the face of it, it looks as though the long bars are more desirable than the short bars. But the difference between the two respondents is more subtle than that. Someone with long bars may be a generalist, but there will still be a tendency on her part to think in terms of stereotypes for career path (and, what is more important, for th direction the organization should take). The respondent with short bars encounters the frustration of being unable to find a career path where he truly feels at home, but that very tendency permits him to think outside the box both from a career point of view and in terms of organizational focus.
Here is a document showing the common patterns on Organizational Focus with descriptions of each.