An Organization Built Around Type

Starting in 2001, one of my MBTI® Qualifying Program/InterStrength® Method Certification graduates founded a software development company. He decided to integrate temperament, Interaction Styles, and Cognitive Dynamics into the fabric of his new company. I worked with them while they went from 4 employees to about 20. I conducted self-discovery workshops for the new employees and many times, those who had been there a while came as well to learn more. At each visit, I did some more applications workshops, team coaching and individual coaching sessions for those who wanted them. During one visit, I saw my name on the company calendar with a huge happy face! It was a joy to work with all of them and I count that work as one of the high points of my career. They really used the models for their own growth, for working with clients, dealing with conflict, and improving relationships. The temperament and Interaction Style names became a language they used on a daily basis. In 2009, I invited Brian Robertson to be a part of my panel on applications of type in organizations at the Association for Psychological Type International. To  prepare for this  panel, I asked him to write up the story of how the InterStrength method was used in the software company he founded and later in the development of his new venture HolacracyOne. The following is what Brian wrote up.

Ternary Software: Built Around Type

by Brian J Robertson, Founder & CEO-emeritus

Ternary’s Story

In early 2001, amidst the worst economy for technology companies in decades, two colleagues and I launched Ternary Software. Although the business vision we pursued was common enough, we launched the company with an uncommon question. Our prior experience in modern organizations was profoundly unfulfiling, and we had a deep driving sense that there must be a better way. We wanted to know: “How can we live and work together in a more full, more embracing, more powerful way?” We weren’t looking for another incremental improvement within existing models and structures; we sought a new tier of organization, one which rewrote the most basic rules of human engagement.

We had a few ideas of where to begin searching for a better way: the founders all shared a rich background in psychological type. The Interstrength® method and models we used were unusually powerful and deep – well beyond the more basic single-model approach used by most type practitioners. Through our work with type at this deeper level, we had come to see that different type patterns tended to naturally tune in to different aspects of reality. Each resonated with different fields of very real information and value. And we had seen firsthand the powerful results that came when an organization learned to effectively harness and integrate even a few of these fields of information simultaneously.

We sought to go a step beyond that – to find a way to simultaneously harness and integrate the value that every single type pattern naturally attuned with. For example, using the Interaction Styles model, we see there are those who prefer to integrate as much information as possible to get the best result possible, and there are those who prefer to make quick decisions to get an achievable result now. On the surface these look at least partially in conflict, and usually they are – many companies simply privilege one, or, at best, find a “least common denominator” or alternate which dynamic gets to rule in any given situation. However, we sought to integrate the best of both all the time, and to bake that approach into the fabric of the organization. Eventually our inquiry led to a remarkable new approach to organizing and managing a company, which we later named Holacracy™.

About Holacracy™

Holacracy was initially pioneered hands-on in an award-winning, fast-growth software company between 2001 and 2006. The company’s leadership continually experimented with new methods of organizing and working together, while integrating ideas and techniques from many cutting-edge movements and thought-leaders. The resulting system made its public debut in 2006 via interviews and writings, including a prominent article in the Wall Street Journal. Holacracy has continued to evolve and spread in the years since under the stewardship of HolacracyOne, an organization created to further develop the method and bring it to the world. It is now an international movement with a broad community of practitioners and consultants catalyzing its adoption across the globe.

Holacracy is a complete practice for governing and running our organizations – a new operating system.  With its transformative structure and processes, Holacracy integrates the collective wisdom of people of all types throughout the company, while aligning the organization with its broader purpose and a more organic way of operating. The result is dramatically increased agility, transparency, innovation, and accountability. Holacracy takes the principles, ideas, and underlying new mindset pointed at by many modern thought leaders, and instills them in the actual structures and processes of the organization – it grounds them in practice and brings them to life.

To learn more about Holacracy, please visit for free articles, interviews, and webinars.

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