Founded in 1991, Emergenetics is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The past 25 years have provided opportunities to work with organizations around the globe, in companies both multi-national and start-up to enhance the way individuals and teams work and interact. As part of this celebration, we sat down with Founder & CEO Dr. Geil Browning for a few Q&A’s about the impact Emergenetics has had on individuals, teams, and organizations through the years.

Q: What is Emergenetics and what is its major role in a team?

A: Emergenetics theory says that the way we prefer to think and behave emerge from our life experiences and our genetics traits – hence the name, “Emerge + Genetics”. In the late 1980’s, I was working with a man, Dr. Wendell Williams, to research the premise that thinking and behavioral attributes could easily be separately measured to provide a more accurate, nuanced look at how an individual approaches his/her world.

My background is in education; I was really interested in finding a way to impact students, educators, and the world of education in general. Wendell is an industrial and social psychologist who wanted to provide a valid thinking and behavioral psychometric tool that adults could use across the business spectrum. Together we developed the Emergenetics model, which is made up of four thinking attributes (Analytical, Structural, Social, and Conceptual) and three behavioral attributes (Expressiveness, Assertiveness, and Flexibility). The Emergenetics Profile provides a measure of these attributes.

Because Emergenetics applies to people, the model can then be applied to all aspects of life and in any situation that involves people. When it comes to teams, well, they’re made up of multiple people! So not only is it critical for each individual to have self-awareness, understand their own strengths and what they bring to the situation, they also need to understand the other people on the team. Emergenetics creates a common language within a team, by which people can more effectively understand each other, communicate, and work together. It helps teams work together more effectively and productively because they’re not having to navigate as much of the interpersonal issues that can get in the way of a team’s success.

Q: How does this instrument differ from other existing tools?

A: Well, I could talk at length about this! I think my favorite differentiator is that our tool is simple but not simplistic. It’s easy to understand, to get it and know what it all means and what to do with the information, but at the same time there is also a wealth of useful, applicable information to be derived just from a simple, 1 page document.

Many models and tools on the market have 4 attributes and most of them blend thinking and behavior to measure one’s “personality”. By separating thinking and behavior, we were able to create a seven attribute psychometric tool that accurately reflects how someone may choose to approach their world.

Emergenetics is spectrum based. A person’s position on the spectrum is where they’re most comfortable, but we understand that people can, and will, flex to both ends of the spectrum depending on the situation. We don’t box people into a certain category.

We also don’t say, for example, that someone is a “high expressive”. Everyone is expressive, it’s just the way they go about it that varies from person to person. A person with a social thinking preference can be in the first-third of expressiveness. Not everyone with a social preference is a “social butterfly”. Or a person with a structural thinking preference can also be in the third-third of flexibility. This example is two-fold, in that it also highlights that

Emergenetics measures preferences. Emergenetics is strength based. It measures a person’s preferences for thinking and behaving. Every person has all 7 of the attributes. So even if someone does not have an analytical thinking preference, they can and do still use analytical thinking during their day. It just might not be your go-to mode of thinking, feel as natural, or be as enjoyable. It’s likely an energy drain. Whereas when you’re operating in preference, the energy abounds!

One other differentiator is the application piece. There are some really great tools out there that provide wonderful information about who an individual is, but then what do they do with that information? Emergenetics talks about how to leverage your Profile to achieve your best self and high performing teams.

We have a mobile app, Emergenetics+, which is free for any person with an Emergenetics Profile. We are currently the only company in our industry with a dynamic mobile app that allows you to see not only your own Profile, but compare individual profiles, create teams, and get tips based on the unique dynamics of the group.

And then finally, some tools out there just aren’t built on solid science or they haven’t kept up with the research. We are very proud of the research that went into the creation of our tool. Our reliability and validity are quite powerful, and remain strong because we are committed to renorming our database every two years. We are so proud of it, we’ve placed our Technical Report on our website for you to review if you are interested!

Q: Could Emergenetics help someone find his or her greatest strengths and biggest weaknesses?

A: Emergenetics brings a great sense of self-awareness to the individual. It also brings a sense of awareness for that individual about others, so that every interaction can be made more positive and productive. Because the Emergenetics Profile is not looking at anything to do with skill or ability, we don’t focus so much on the word “weakness,” because really you may just find that some ways of thinking or some ways of behaving will just take more energy for you than your preferred way of thinking and behaving. Even if some tasks take more energy, you can be very good at it…it is just outside of your preferences. Having this awareness allows you to manage your day much more effectively. And that in and of itself is a strength!

Q: Which are the strengths that Emergenetics identifies?

A: Emergenetics focuses on preferences, and we take a strength-based way to work with them. We are measuring four thinking attributes (Analytical, Structural, Social, Conceptual), and three behavioral attributes (Expressiveness, Assertiveness, Flexibility) our research has shown all of us exhibit in some varying degree. Our report then showcases which combination of these attributes you show a preference for.

Q: A person can get Certified in Emergenetics. what are some of the ways that Emergenetics certification can improve the work of a HR specialist and other professionals?

A: When a person gets certified in Emergenetics they become an Emergenetics Associate. Our Associates are able to facilitate all of our Emergenetics programs and debrief the Emergenetics Profile, and they also have the knowledge to create custom development programs based on the Emergenetics model. Associates can create more effective, collaborative teams, diagnose potential sources of team conflict or inefficiencies, and identify gaps in a group’s approach or foresee potential groupthink situations.

Q: Owning an Emergenetics certificate could bring about a salary increase and other job related opportunities for HR executives and other professionals?

A: We work with a great deal of organizations all over the world who use Emergenetics in their day-to-day business life. This creates a wonderful opportunity for those certified in Emergenetics, as they can quickly integrate into other organizations who use our tools and solutions. Another benefit is that our certification goes with you! No matter if you are looking to change departments, change countries or change careers, you will be able to practice Emergenetics in a variety of settings.

Q: Can knowing your Emergenetics Profile help us to make better career decisions?

A: Absolutely! If I know I have a preference for conceptual thinking, I might think twice about applying for a job that is very routine and mundane. That’s not to say, for example, all accountants have an Analytical thinking preference, or all sales people are third-third expressive, but it helps you to narrow your focus to the types of jobs and functions that you will enjoy.

Q: Is there an ideal Profile of a leader?

A: I get this question often, and I am glad it is asked and explored. After years of looking at leader’s profiles and understanding their positions, all the way from an entry-level manager to the CEO, there simply is no “ideal leadership profile” when it comes to Emergenetics. There are such brilliances built into every single profile that it all comes down to the self-awareness the tool brings to leaders that makes the biggest difference. I also think this is where the importance of a team comes into play. A great leader recognizes the areas where they can have the most impact, but also recognizes where and how others can contribute. They put together a team of smart, hardworking people. With knowledge of their own Emergenetics Profile, they can build our a diverse team comprised of various profiles to make sure the group collectively is sound and thinking through situations from all angles and approaches.


Want to hear more from Emergenetics Founder Dr. Geil Browning? Check out Live25, a live Q&A session featuring Dr. Browning on Facebook. 9am MT, 25th October, 2016.

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