Technique 1.90 Subject-object Interview


This is looking at correlating measures of mental complexity with independent assessments of work competence or performance, ie
" discriminates developmental movement between, and within, the levels of mental complexity with higher degrees of interrater reliability..."
Robert Kegan et al, 2009

It evaluates a person's effectiveness in terms of the ability to
"...- challenge existing processes
    - inspire a shared vision
    - manage conflict......
    - solve problems
    - delegate
    - empower
    - build relationships..."

Robert Kegan et al, 2009

"...the complexity of a mindset is a function of the way it distinguishes the thoughts and feelings we have, (ie can look at, can take an object) from the thoughts and feelings that 'have us' (ie we are run by them), are subject to them. Each different level of mindset complexity differently redraws the line between what is subject and what is object. Greater complexity means being able to look at more (take more as an object). The blind spot (which is subject) becomes smaller and can identify, with high degrees of interrater reliability, fully five different transitional places between two mindsets..."
Robert Kegan et al, 2009


Start with 10 index cards, ie

i) angry

ii) anxious and nervous

iii) success

iv) strong stand, conviction

v) sad

vi) torn

vii) moved, touched

viii) loss of something, farewells

ix) change

x) important

The interviewee is asked to make notes on each card in response to the following basic question, ie

Think of some time, over the past few days or weeks, when you found yourself feeling mad or angry/anxious and nervous, etc about something?

Then the interviewer probes more deeply by using the following prompts, ie

- what made you feel that way?

- why did it make you feel that way?

- what is at stake?

This helps to identify the boundaries and contours of people's current way of constructing reality (including blindspots, cognitive biases, etc)


From the thousands of interviews conducted and analysed, some findings:

i) strong correlation linking increased mental complexity and work competence within a number of the dimensions

ii) higher planes of mental complexity is correlated with increased effectiveness

iii) higher levels of mental complexity can make a complex world more or less manageable

With the decline in manufacturing and increasing information era, there is an increasing need for greater mental complexity, ie to go from socialised mind to self-authoring mine (see immunity to change)


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