Rules and Passion

The cognitive approach is just the tool if a manager wants to get to know his raw material: people. This is because it can zero in on the four main ingredients of a personality and the infinite number of ways in which people express themselves.

by Marco Mossi

These ingredients provide flexible frameworks that suggest how an individual will react to certain stimuli and what will motivate his or her actions.

The first framework considers the areas of perseverance and commitment. Some people hold honesty and procedure in high regard. Their passions are of an intellectual nature, and they are truly engaged when they feel the project is right and corresponds to a number of objective criteria.

• Stengths: They are able to control their passion and use their enthusiasm to attain their objectives.
• Weaknesses: They risk curtailing the brainstorming phase, thereby damping down the energy of others.

The second framework looks at the questions of responsibility and sense of duty. Some people’s passions are controlled and mainly of a personal nature; they may also be linked to the satisfaction of others’ needs. They are engaged when they feel a project is in their hands.

• Stengths: In relationships, they’re able to go with the flow. They can integrate passion and respect for rules, as well as tone down conflict.
• Weaknesses: They may be overly wary of risk, causing excessive seriousness.

The third framework concerns curiosity and self-confidence. Here, people’s passions are intense and directly linked to the novelty and freedom inherent in a specific task. Their engagement increases when they feel a project is innovative but also rooted in a solid frame of reference.

• Stengths: They choose highly innovative paths, always knowing the road home.
• Weaknesses: They may find daily routine painful and dislike the mundane aspects of organization and management.

The fourth configuration concerns imagination and flexibility. The passion of these people can be contagious. They are always in touch with their audience, and they can shape and control the critical move toward consensus. They’re engaged when they feel a project will meet with the audience’s approval.

• Stengths: They are liable to get off track and make decisions on the basis of intuition.
• Weaknesses: They may agree to rules just to please others and not because they are truly convinced.

Finally, it is possible to harmonize rules and passion and to improve your teamwork atmosphere through a careful direction of the actors on stage. But be sure to have a thorough knowledge of the script (the framework) and engage your players with an approach that’s respectful of the sensitive areas in each of these frameworks.

To Each Their Own

by Valter Mascetti

A brief and crystal clear summary of the 4 Cognitive Organizations by a psychotherapist who loves metaphors.

“I do not care to belong
to a club that accepts people like me as members.”
Groucho Marx

The Depressive Organization can be defined as an individual’s tendency to experience a pervasive sense of loneliness and isolation from others and generally to live out life’s events with distrust, delusion and failure.

“It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us, as the confidence of their help.”

A Phobic Organization is characterized by a conflict between the need to feel free and independent and the need to have someone to lean on in order to feel safe. The need for freedom triggers a fear of loneliness and lack of protection, while the closeness of another is experienced as a threat to the very freedom the individual craves.

“Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”
Snowhite’s Queen and Wicked Witch

People with Eating Disorder Organization have an oscillating and indefinite sense of self that becomes stable when they are confident of fulfilling the expectations of others. These people experience a constant need for unconditional approval. From this derives their tendency to focus on the opinion and behavior of others as a mirror where they recognize and feed their personal value. At the same time, precisely because they attribute a great deal of importance to the judgment of others, people with an eating disorder organization constantly live in fear of disappointing others.

“Of all things that are certain, the most certain is doubt.”
Bertolt Brecht

People with an Obsessive Organization are characterized by an ambivalent and dichotomous sense of self, where both a positive and a negative self-image are constantly at play Theirs is an all-or-nothing, black-and-white worldview. These individuals cannot appreciate the nuances and contradictions of life because such an awareness would provoke a crisis and inflame their inability to decide.


Published in the hard-copy of Work Style Magazine, Fall 2013