Another Look at Flow

Hi, Everyone!

Recently, Yvonne Wheeler brought a psychometric assessment based on Mihalyi Csiksentmihalyi’s “Flow” model to my attention.

The assessment was developed by InterQualia, a Swiss-Canadian training and consulting firm. Most of their literature is in French — a language I know only well enough to get out of (or into) trouble — but I have been able to get the gist of what their approach is all about.

While I would love the opportunity to see a complete sample report, from what I’ve found on their website and as a result of other Google searches, I can point out a few ways in which InterQualia’s approach and ChangeWorks resonate and differ.

I’d like to discuss it in detail on Monday’s ChangeWorks Forum call — but thought I’d set the stage here first.

Let’s begin with their “Map of Humanity” —

In order for their diagram to overlay on the ChangeGrid, it will need to be rotated 45 degrees clockwise, which would place the section labeled “Flow” along the Heartline in the OutGrid quadrant, “Boredom” in the DownGrid quadrant, “Anxiety” UpGrid and “Indifference” along the Heartline in the InGrid quadrant.

While “Anxiety” and “Boredom” resonate well enough with the ChangeGrid, I have a couple of issues with the “Flow” and “Indifference” sections.

Let’s begin with “Flow” — which is described on InterQualia’s website as: “Flow or ‘optimal experience’ is felt during an activity when a person is faced with a challenge and has the skills to meet it.”

Based on their diagram, Flow can only be experienced when a person views both their levels of Challenge and Ability as moderate to high. This doesn’t align conceptually with the ChangeGrid — and contradicts their own definition.

An individual who views both Challenge and Ability as moderate to low would still meet the requirements stated for Flow to be experienced. The difference is simply  a matter of INTENSITY.

Also, the label of “Indifference” is, at best, partially-correct. Other versions of the diagram, like the one shown below from Wikipedia, use the label “Apathy” — and that is an even bigger disconnect from what the ChangeGrid describes. Obviously, the two Flow diagrams are in disagreement with “Boredom” and “Detachment” as well.

There are also several differences between ChangeWorks and InterQualia’s approach. Here’s two:

First, InterQualia’s assessment seems to focus on pre-mapped situations/scenarios. ChangeWorks focuses on unique activities specified by the client. Yvonne did share with me that the situations can be customized for the client, but we’re unclear as to whether that can be done “on the fly” or if it has to be hardcoded into the assessment software.

Second, InterQualia’s assessment seems to be designed as an event — a one-time experience. The ChangeGrid, on the other hand, can be used on an ongoing basis — even daily — serving as a tool for monitoring and managing progress.

In preparation for Monday’s Forum call, please spend some time exploring InterQualia’s website. I’m looking forward to hearing your insights.



One Response to Another Look at Flow

  1. T and Yvonne,
    This is outstanding. I’ve been “cornered” in several conversations who compare “FLOW” to ChangeWorks and dismiss the dialogue with a wave of a hand.

    This should be a great session. Looking forward to it.
    All the best,

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