Coding CIP Too Low For Strategic Thinkers

E. Forrest Christian Coaching 4 Comments

Recently I coded a interview with a young programmer for Complexity o Information Processing. This should give a good idea of where someone sits on Jaques’s charts, to be checked against the actual work peformance of the person. I am qualified (but not certified) to determine Strata 1-3, with a possible on 4. Unfortunately, almost everyone that I have coded before has been 4-6. I try to get younger and younger respondents to get some 3s and 2s but it doesn’t seem to work. For whatever reason, I have a bunch of Mode 6+ respondents.

This guy, though, coded clearly as Str 3. I looked at it and realized that he was 1) a real Stratum 3 and 2) he looked nothing like another interview I also coded as a Str 3. I put them side by side and compared: my earlier respondent was bigger than this new one.

So I went back over my interviews. I have been overly conservative with Conceptual thinking and with Parallel thinking. I may have been looking for Universals instead of Concepts in my interviews, irritatingly enough. I had to recode my learning interviews, a risk they took when I started talking to them. One came in as a Str3 because I couldn’t find Str4. Now I find Str4 tiebacks all over the place. They are really there. I knew I had problems with 4 when I was in training. I could see 3 (serial classes) and 5 (declarative abstraction) but I couldn’t get 4. Now I can.

I went back over another interview, with a software consultant that I’ve worked with for awhile. His interview didn’t seem to make any sense in my coding, because I was missing the Abtractions that he was stating. Had I been listening more closely for them, they would have jumped out at me and I could have interviewed more closely for them and gotten better results. But I didn’t and I missed them.

When I did my first interview, I came out of it thinking, “Probably not Str 5 but definitely Str 4”. Then I got weird in the coding. I just didn’t have the experience with the lower levels.

I’ll probably never have the experience with the lower levels. I’m trying to get more of a handle on 5-8, really understanding the 4/5 strategic thinking split and how 6 and 7 look compared to 4.

I will post the interviews, sanitized of the company details with my coding so that we can compare notes.

About the Author

Forrest Christian

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E. Forrest Christian is a consultant, coach, author, trainer and speaker at The Manasclerk Company who helps managers and experts find insight and solutions to what seem like insolvable problems. Cited for his "unique ability and insight" by his clients, Forrest has worked with people from almost every background, from artists to programmers to executives to global consultants. Forrest lives and works plain view of North Carolina's Mount Baker.  [contact]

Comments 4

  1. Post

    How would you distinguish a universal if you were to encounter one?

    I haven’t had the training yet don’t appear to have much difficulty observing levels one to four.

    In reading the references you have posted I am always left with the impression that you have a disproportionately high number of high CMP (and high mode) candidates that you are dealing with.

    You will need to get around to coding my policy wonk soon.

  2. Post

    Universals would be enclose the abstract conceptuals. The tricky part would be that the term could be used as an abstract concept. Thus a discussion of liberty could be a discussion at the abstract conceptual level, unpacking into classes for support; or it could be a meta ideal that unpacks into a series of abstract concepts. For example, the problem statement “liberty” unpacks into “freedom of expression”, “freedom of religion” and “self-determination”, which then unpack into classes that are more practical or tactical. So I would be looking for someone to use a term to describe or name the problem and then unpack it into a series of abstract concepts. There may not be any drill down. I might have to ask about some, to see where they go. But I’m wondering about it.

    Michelle and Glenn would have a better understanding than I would. They’ve been researching the universals used by some Great Men and Women recently.

  3. Post

    I don’t know anything about CIP, but perhaps you’ll forgive an ignorant question. In the context of rating programmers, how does CIP relate to other forms of abstract thinking?

    Since I am a programmer and a mathematician of sorts, I have always seen program design in pretty abstract terms. Of course there are huge differences in ability between programmers – and I have always thought that the main reason functional languages like Lisp never took off is that they require a facility with abstraction that is just not common enough outside university CS departments (for example, lambda calculus, or the ability to think of functions as “things”, or to understand code as data).

    How does this kind of mathematical abstraction relate to CIP as you measure it for organisational or managerial purposes?

  4. Universals! Interesting.

    Let’s begin by redefining the terms – trust me this will be helpful. Jaques passed on still working on clear definitions. He was convinced that there were layers, but not able to clearly describe them. Yet we know from observation that someone operating from stratum 4 through stratum 6 can “see” the difference in the order of information complexity used in stratum1-4 from that used in stratum 5- 8.

    Rather than names for “orders of information complexity” let’s use sequential numbers.

    1st order: pre linguistic, I like “self explanatory gestures” but its not completely accurate. Seconds to hours.

    2nd order: I like “specifics”, but also not satisfactorily accurate. Children tend to be here. Hours to days.

    3rd order: This is where we need to begin. Its the realm of most organizational work and normal adult life. Stratum 1 though 4. Days to years.

    4th order: Executive leadership. Abstract concepts (also not a good term). Stratum 5 through 8. Years to decades.

    5th order: General principles, Decades to centuries.

    6th order: Universals, Centuries to millennia.

    Until his 2002 book “Life and Behavior of Living Organisms” there were 5 layers.

    So, if we use numbers, then we can keep them straight till we really understand how to name them.

    Also, keep in mind that its not the words themselves, but it’s the users understanding of the words. For example the marketing exec who says “I call it the bounce strategy,” then proceeds to build a complex model. Words are not complex but the user’s content is.

    Rather than ask can we identify “universals” lets ask can we identify 5th order language.

    I just finished working with a doctoral student, a pastor, who was using CIP in examining high level Christian leadership. We reviewed work by Martin Luther King and Pop John Paul II (present pope). Three examples each at different ages. King ages: 26, 34, 39. Pope John ages: 49, 59, 74.

    Two of Kings examples were quite clear age 26 at mid stratum 6 and age 34 at low stratum 7. That would be mode 11.

    Two of the Pope’s were reasonably clear (I say that because we have no references at this level) age 49, transition between stratum 8 and 9, age 59, mid stratum 9. These are also mode 11.

    The way this works for me is to think that each succeeding order “subsumes” the preceding order. So, 4th order abstraction can exist at various levels of complexity and still not subsume one another.

    Here are some phrases from King’s age 29 speech.
    Apply our citizenship to the fullness of its meaning
    Democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action
    Plunged into the abyss of humiliation
    The bleakness of nagging despair
    Glittering sunlight of life’s July

    Here are excerpts form Pope John II age 59 speaking to the “World Council on Law.”
    Relations between men and nations
    Paramount dignity of the individual
    Every human group
    Forged according to the traditions of different nations
    Characteristic of the development of mankind and of nations

    I see these as being somewhat more complex than King’s but not at a higher, or 5th order.
    However there were other terms includes that do have that higher order, subsuming character:
    The rule of Law
    Unity of the human family
    The welfare of man

    In the body of the work, “the rule of Law” was carried as an overriding idea that the other ideas were used to support. There were 2 “bigger ideas”: “Rule of Law” and “Welfare of man” that were carried along as independent ideas. That is declaratively as appropriate for stratum 9. They were not accumulated as would be expected for stratum 10.

    I don’t know if this will shed any light, but its my current thinking.

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