The StrengthsFinder® and the ChangeGrid

Hi, Everyone!

For the past few days, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ajai Singh, who’s come to Davidson from Mumbai to complete his Certified MasterStream Sales Trainer course. Prior to his arrival in Charlotte, Ajai was in Texas attending a training program offered by CoreClarity, Inc. about coaching using the Clifton StrengthsFinder® instrument.

The Clifton StrengthsFinder® is an online assessment developed in 1998 by Donald Clifton, Tom Rath and a group of researchers at the Gallup Organization. It is offered exclusively as a value-added experience integrated into their book, “StrengthsFinder 2.0.

The assessment presents the respondent with 180 pairs of statements describing beliefs about one’s self and asks you to lean gently or strongly in one direction or the other — or take a neutral stance, if that feels right. Upon completion, you receive a brief report revealing your top 5 strengths from a list of 34 possibilities. (I’ll tell you about the other 29 a bit later.)

You all know that I’m fascinated by ALL psychometric instruments, so I asked to see descriptions of the 34 strengths, and any sort of “Map of Humanity” they may have created. Ajai provided me with all of that (follow the hyperlinks to see for yourself) AND extended an invitation for me and Linda to experience the StrengthsFinder for ourselves.

Now, two more things you probably know about me:  1) I am incapable of turning down an opportunity to complete a free assessment, and 2) I genuinely want to explore how the ChangeGrid might enhance the personal growth achieved by a respondent subsequent to completing the StrengthsFinder — or any other assessment for that matter.

So here’s a link to my Top 5 Strengths. In order from the highest, they are:  Strategic, Deliberative, Analytical, Relator and Individualization. If you follow the previous link, you’ll find the actual report that Gallup sends out, which includes descriptions of each of those strengths.

Here’s another link to my Coaching Packet. The Coaching Packet is the creation of Candace Fitzpatrick, President of CoreClarity, Inc. It was designed as part of a coaching system she developed around the StrengthsFinder.

Well, all I can say is “WOW!” The result certainly resonates with me, my work and the way I approach the world — and I’m excited by the opportunities for the ChangeGrid to be integrated into the marketing of the StrengthsFinder and the delivery of the professional services that surround it.

Off the top of my head, I can think of at least FIVE ways the ChangeGrid could be used by professionals building a practice around the StrengthsFinder.

The first two would require that the respondent has a basic understanding of each of the talents being assessed:

1) Following the completion of the StrengthsFinder, create a ChangeGrid exploring the optimization potential of the respondent’s top 5 talents, which, in my case, looks like this:


Optimizing my Top 5 Strengths (CLICK to view full-size)

How is this useful? While I may possess a particular talent, the question here is, “How effectively am I leveraging it?” — and the ChangeGrid reveals the answer.

To set the stage, let’s look at the verb I’ve chosen — “optimizing” — and determine an ideal location for it on the ChangeGrid.  While I haven’t dashed to the dictionary here, I’d say that “optimizing” means successfully applying the talent in increasingly challenging situations — and I’d suggest it would ideally plot at coordinates 10,10.

Looking at my ChangeGrid, my strongest talent — the “Strategic” theme — falls at coordinates 6,11. That means I’ll definitely need some DownGrid and OutGrid Maneuvers to achieve maximum optimization potential.  Meanwhile, my “Relator” theme plots very far DownGrid and represents a talent that is well-developed but under-utilized — classic untapped potential.  In fact, NONE of my talents are currently optimized — so what sort of ChangeGrid Maneuvers might you recommend for me?

2) Create a ChangeGrid exploring the optimization potential of ALL 34 talents. Here’s mine:

Optimizing all 34 Strengths

Optimizing all 34 Strengths (CLICK to view full-size)

Certainly, it’s good to know how we stand with ALL of the 34 talents — not just our top 5.  (BTW, you CAN order a complete report, including a coaching session, from the Gallup Organization for about $500 — which at first glance, seems a bit steep.  Nevertheless, I’m truly tempted because I would really like to know what my NEXT 5 top talents are — and what my WORST 5 are too! How’s THAT for tension management?)

But even without knowledge of ALL of my individual talent rankings, I can still explore the optimization potential for the entire set — and that could be VERY useful.  For example, if some goal you’re working on would benefit from improving a particular talent that currently plots in an undesirable location, you’ll know what work lies ahead if you expect to build strength in that talent area.

3) Create a ChangeGrid that explores the top 5 talents in more detail. Break each of the top 5 talents into 5 to 10 “mission-critical activities”  for a more in-depth look at the client’s readiness to progress.

4) Create a Secondary ChangeGrid. Of course, every time a ChangeGrid is read, a new ChangeGrid is born, populated with all of the CUSTOMIZED action items that emerge during the discussion. This, in turn, gives the coach/manager clear and instant insight in the likelihood that the client will actually follow though and DO what needs to be done.

5) Create a ChangeGrid that explores a single CORE/DEFINING activity for each of the 34 talents.

In this application, you would need to craft a clear, exemplary activity for each of the 34 talents. Ajai and I did spend some time developing such a list, and here offer it as our sample “34 Strengths Profile.”

This could be easily deployed as a marketing campaign or integrated into your sales efforts as an intake and conversion tool.

Give it a little thought, and I’m sure you can all come up with even more creative and valuable ways to put the ChangeGrid to productive use — whether you’re using the StrengthsFinder or ANY other psychometric tool.

– T –


21 Responses to The StrengthsFinder® and the ChangeGrid

  1. Bill Downing says:

    1st of all you need structure or rules to work in.
    You probably over analyze things. You like people and treat everyone the way they need to be treated. People probably say you never give them enough information. The way you look at the world can’t be taught to others. You see things in unique patterns. You may have lots of friends or just a few who really know you. If you have a few then being friend #6 or 7 is awkward for them at times.
    Am I close to who you are?

  2. Welcome, Bill — and thank you for your comment! Much of what you suggest is indeed true — but let me start by saying that you’re the first person to visit who isn’t one of our ChangeWorks or MasterStream professionals. How on earth did you stumble across us?

  3. Bill Downing says:

    My Twitter feed picked your article up and I was really fascinated by it. I love personality stuff and if I knew a bit more about you I am fairly confident I could describe you your style very accurately. I use the Portrait Predictor(DISC) and Golden Personality Profiler(Myers-Brigg on steroids) along with Strengthsfinder(Strengths Based Leadership is the book I recommend)to get a very comprehensive read about people.
    My top 5 Maximizer-Strategic-Activator-Positivty-Self-Assurance I am also an ENTP 12(Direct-Influencer) My bottom 4 Consistentcy-Harmony-Restorative-Discipline.
    Which means I hate sameness, love to learn by causing chaos or controversy. Oh by the way I also have Achiever-Focus-Individualization-Communication in my top 10. I believe we live in our top 10 Strengths and it would be nice to know the bottom 4-5.
    If you took the other 2 tests I am confident I could read you like a book. :-)) Plus I could then share with you what to look out for and how to best utilize your talents, skills and strengths. (That’s my Self-Assurance shining through)
    Thanks for commenting back. You have a very interesting site.

  4. Cyberspace is certainly a magical place! I have no idea how Twitter picked up on the article — and I’m amazed at how fast it did! Personally, I’m the poster child for INTP — and among the quadrant-based personality typing systems, I always test out as whatever their Compliance/Analytical type may be, with a decent dose of Supporter/Amiable thrown into the mix. Among the more than 200 human develop professionals I’ve certified in ChangeWorks, the range of psychometric instruments they’re fluent in is vast — and on at least a weekly basis, one of the team members brings up a new one for us to explore. Of course, our primary focus is how ChangeWorks and/or MasterStream can be integrated — but it’s always fascinating to add another model to our awareness. The StrengthsFinder definitely stands out among them.

  5. T, thanks a lot for sharing all this. I am fascinated by the combination of ChangeWorks and Strength Finder, love the “34 strengths acitivity list” you came up with – will test it next week when back from Europe.

  6. Bill Downing says:

    INTP Okay so now I know you are a big picture over analyzer. You probably enjoy people a lot but need your down time/space in order to recharge. You are also able to quickly and easily change direction or come up with a new answer or solution when you receive new information. Being a “P” makes you enjoyable to be around mainly because you are always coming up with new ideas and theory. Of course you will drive a detail oriented person nuts with too many new ideas all at once.
    I have noticed people with Strategic usually have a hard time sharing how they came up with their ideas or solutions. Partly that is because a lot of times they don’t understand the reasons themselves. They just know that they know. A common statement to me is “Bill, getting information out of you is like pulling teeth.”

    • So true … so true! So what is it that you do, Bill? If you’re involved in human development as a profession, you’ll find many peers here. I didn’t realize I’d have visitors beyond our team members, so I’m thinking about uploading a few files later today to give visitors a bit more background on my work.

  7. Bill Downing says:

    My passion is personality exploration. My business is selling trailer hitches and trailer parts. Since Feb 2006 I have been part of a group that assesses pastors in their ability to start a church from scratch. It is a 3 day process and I have assessed 26 times and over 200 pastors. I always look for anomalies when gathering information. Anything out of pattern. Strengthsfinder usually works in pairs and three’s. I live and breathe my Maximizer. It is very outward focused. I maximize just about everything. When I combine my top 3 I can usually give someone a list of action steps to take within a few moments. the strange thing is I will completely forget what I said in about 5 minutes or so. Once the task is completed I am done and off to the next thing. Activator to the Max! All start and no finish. That’s just boring.

  8. Bill Downing says:

    Here is how I see Strategic playing out for most people and especially “NP” personality types. If a process takes 36 steps a person with Strategic might only need to know the first, last and a couple in between to know what to do. However each person with Strategic would see the ones in between differently. You might see steps 10-16-23 and I might see 9-19-30. Therefore your description on what to do would sound completely different than mine would. Explaining how you know is also difficult because it is just natural for you. This is a strength you either have or you don’t. I do not believe this can be taught to others. I was surprised at your personal rating of Strategic 6 & 11. If you could explain what you mean by that I would be grateful. Being number one I think you might have a misunderstanding of what Strategic is. You have two very unique talents. Strategic and Individualization. Both of these are very personal and shape the way you view life and others around you.

    • The ChangeGrid is extremely activity-specific and the plotting you’re looking at centers around the verb “optimizing” — so the two questions I had to consider were: “How do I rate my ABILITY to OPTIMIZE my Strategic talent?” and “How CHALLENGING is it for me to OPTIMIZE my Strategic talent?” In this case, I plotted at coordinates 6,11, which reflects a moderate ABILITY but a very high CHALLENGE — and places me in Power-Stress. In the hands of a coach, the natural next step would be to ask me WHY I rated myself as I did, then structure a set of ChangeGrid Maneuvers to support me in moving to a more productive place on the ChangeGrid, which in this case would be coordinates 10,10.

      • Bill Downing says:

        My questions would be how do you see Strategic playing out in your normal every day life? How do you view driving to get some place in a hurry? How about when you buy something at a store? What are your initial thoughts when I ask you these questions.
        My intuition tells me you use Strategic in ways you don’t even think about. You probably see the “BIG” picture quickly and possibly the steps needed to accomplish a task and then you use your Deliberative to build a structure to work in and around.
        Being a visionary along with Strategic is wonderful. You can quickly grasp new ideas and concepts. Analyze and implement.

        • Well, pretty much my usual way to approach any situation is to identify a desired outcome, then look at where I’m starting from and draw as straight of a line as possible — if I notice a potential problem/obstacle, I’ll adjust my plan. I can’t say that I’m all that aware of HOW I’m actually operating while I’m doing it, but it seems pretty straightforward and typical for me.

          It’s been a while since I took the DiSC profile, but C is extremely strong and S took second place. My email address is

      • Bill Downing says:

        Do you have a DISC result? I would be willing to send you a link in a private email to the test I use. My gift to you since you have given me so much great conversation.

  9. Bob DeMers says:

    Thanks for this post. I like how you’ve leveraged the ChangeGrid towards determinging levels of engagement of the “StrengthsFinder 2.0” Strengths. Right after I read your comments, I spun your thoughts into a conversation with a prospect familiar with DISC, and optimized tension accordingly. Coming up with standard mission critical activities for the various DISC profiles (and any other well known assessments) might be a great value ad in marketing the ChangeGrid to the corporate sector. Keep posting!

    • Bill Downing says:

      Okay so what is your DISC result. What I like about the DISC is it lets me know what normal behaviors you have and how you think about yourself. Here is how I view it. My ENTP is the structure of the house, the walls, windows, etc. My Strengthsfinder is the furnishings, big screen tv, tables, chairs, etc. My DISC is the wall color, carpeting, etc. (Things that can be changed over time)
      Put all three together and I get a pretty clear picture of potential and where to start from.

  10. Hi T,
    How fascinating that you have worked with the StrengthFinder and Changegrid! Me too! As a member of a Personal Growth group within our local executive network organization we studied the StrengthFinder and Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham. After we had learned about our talents through the assessment that is included in the price of the book, I offered my group members to do a personal Changegrid for each of the mission critical activities they presumed to go with putting their strengths to work – or lessen the impact of the weaknesses. Only two people in the gorup eventually took up the offer and they found Changegrid grounding and the process powerful. I loved it and think it is a winning combination.

  11. Hi T.,

    Regarding your inquiry about what maneuvers to perform to optimize your top 5 strengths, here’s what I see based on the Strength descriptions:

    For Activity 1 (Optimizing My Strategic Strength), what I find interesting is that you gave yourself a relatively low score of 6 on the ‘Ability’ scale. To move yourself DownGrid, the one thing I see doing is to add resources. From that perspective, I wonder if it would be worthwhile to find someone who you could regularly bounce ideas off of to enhance your strategic vision and analysis of your work, different applications of the ChangeGrid, etc. Maybe you’re like John Lennon needing to find your Paul McCartney.

    To move you OutGrid, I would appeal to your ego – you are clearly superlative in your knowledge and you have developed a unique instrument that is universally applicable. You should simply own that gift.

    For Activity 2 (Optimizing My Deliberative Strength), I would appeal to your ego and increase the risk to move you OutGrid. I would likewise awaken your emotions to move you UpGrid. You *personally* have mastered a very important arena in the Human Development world and I think it may be time to highlight the ChangeGrid while challenging the efficacy of various psychometric instruments. That would be potentially very risky, but could be very worthwhile too.

    For Activity 5 (Optimizing My Individualization Strength), I see increasing the standards as the primary UpGrid maneuver. You are already great at seeing each person’s own distinct qualities. To increase the challenge may require you to ask “How can I perfect my ability to understand everyone’s unique skills, perspectives, and abilities?”

    For Activity (Optimizing My Analytical Strength), you gave yourself a relatively low score on the Challenge scale. I would move you UpGrid by increasing the standards by asking this question: “Yes, you know a lot, but what don’t you know?” I might also change the task by pushing you to move your analytical skills to areas in business or social matters that you are less familiar or even uncomfortable with. Those actions might also function as OutGrid maneuvers by increasing the risks.

    For Activity 4 (Optimizing My Relator Strength), it’s interesting that this activity is not only in Apathy, but that’s only moderately important. To move you UpGrid, the challenge needs to be raised significantly. The question could be posed “Would you be willing to initiate and increase connections with people you do not yet feel close to with the intent of building close connection knowing the personal risks involved?” However, since this activity is not highly important, moving it UpGrid could simply be a moot point for you.

    Hope this helps.

    • Thank you, Thornton, for your interpretation and guidance here! I found the exercise very eye-opening since my presupposition was that people actually USE their strengths, but the ChangeGrid certain shows abundant opportunity to use them more effectively. I’ll give your suggestions serious thought and see what I can come up with before I see you in SF.

      • Glad I could help, T. Feel free to run anything by me before you come to SF. One thing that immediately stands out is creating a line of ChangeGrid applications or even a separate suite of MasterStream and/or ChangeWorks training around ‘Optimization’, ‘Mastery’, or something else in that realm with similar nomenclature.

  12. Lydia says:

    Very interesting article, we are just dipping our toes into the strengthfinder and loved your core activity list – great easy opener for conversations.

    (and I found you via google searching for “best strengthsfinder strengths for sales support” as I’m in the middle of recruiting!


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