Larry Brauner

Who Are We and What Makes Us Tick?

We subject ourselves to intelligence and personality tests so that we can understand ourselves, or so that others can evaluate us and learn who we are and what makes us tick.

I’ve taken my fair share of these exams over the years, and I suspect that you have as well.

While there is some value in IQ tests and personality testing, these tests don’t reveal what really makes us tick or indicate how we tend to deal with our work and all of life’s situations. Something is lacking in these familiar standardized examinations.

The Kolbe Concept®

Robin Kavall, an old friend from my chess tournament days and an accomplished actuary, recently introduced me to the marvelous work of Kathy Kolbe who developed the Kolbe Concept.

According to the Kolbe website:

The Kolbe Concept holds that creative instincts are the source of mental energy that drives people to take specific actions. This mental drive is separate and distinct from passive feeling and thoughts. Creative instincts are manifested in an innate pattern that determines an individual’s unique method of operation, or modus operandi (MO).

When we act in concert with our instincts, we have enormous energy and achieve high levels of performance.

While the cognitive part of our minds controls our thinking and the affective part controls our feeling, according to Kolbe our instincts manifest themselves through the conative part of our minds that controls our doing.

Some aspects of conation are drive, instinct, necessity, mental energy, innate force, and talents. Conative attributes, distinct from intelligence, attitudes, values and emotions, are not generally factored into standardized psychological testing.

The Kolbe A™ Index

Kathy Kolbe identified four universal instincts that shape the way we tackle life’s problems. Although these instincts cannot be directly measured, they can be inferred by examining our behaviors.

The Kolbe A Index characterizes and helps us understand our behaviors that pertain to the four classes of action that correspond to our fundamental instincts:

  1. Fact Finder - how we gather and share information, i.e., simplify, explain or specify
  2. Follow Thru - how we arrange and design, i.e., adapt, maintain or systematize
  3. Quick Start - how we deal with risk and uncertainty, i.e., stabilize, modify or improvise
  4. Implementor - how we handle space and tangible things, i.e., imagine, restore, or build

All the terms used here have specific well-defined and clearly explained meanings within Kathy Kolbe’s system.

The Kolbe A™ Index Illustrated

My own Kolbe A Index is: specify, maintain, improvise and imagine. Here’s the overall summary of my index and what makes me tick:

Your Kolbe A™ Index result shows you are excellent at coming up with unique strategies, prioritizing opportunities, and dealing with the unknowns in complex problems. You are the go-to person when elaborate projects are in trouble.

You may access my Kolbe A Index results to get a clearer picture of what the index is, how it’s reported and what my MO is.

Learn More about the Kolbe A™ Index

In this article, I only scratch the surface of understanding of the Kolbe Index and its enormous value. Extensive information about other Kolbe tests and how all Kolbe testing can help us to maximize our potential and personal fulfillment is available at the Kolbe website.

You comments and feedback are welcome.

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17 Responses to “Who Are We?”

  1. Jeanine Mercer on November 30th, 2008 9:14 pm

    I think this would be well received if people can actually see your face and you talking! You have a lot to say and you need to get this out to as many people as possible.

  2. Larry Brauner on November 30th, 2008 9:27 pm

    Video may be in my future Jeanine but so too the written word.

  3. Diane Robinson on November 30th, 2008 9:59 pm

    “When we act in concert with our instincts, we have enormous energy and achieve high levels of performance.”

    Call it instincts or God’s spirit within. When we operate in synergy we are at our best. I think our instincts guide us best and when we operate from that place, everything lines up including success.

  4. Morgan Mandel on November 30th, 2008 10:36 pm

    Usually my first impression of a person is the right one, at least for me. That kind of instinct is hard to explain. Maybe it’s body language, eye contact, or something else my mind registers automatically.

    Morgan Mandel
    Morgan Mandel Blog

  5. DANIEL FROMHOFF on December 1st, 2008 5:14 pm

    I learned a lot about myself by answering the questions. This is a unique test! I am much more impulsive than I had realized.

  6. Larry Brauner on December 1st, 2008 5:48 pm

    I think it would be great if everybody who takes the Kolbe Index test posts their result with a link to their report.

    My result is 7-4-7-3, and you’ll find the link to my Kolbe A Index report in the body of my post above.

  7. Robin Kavall on December 1st, 2008 7:02 pm

    My result is 4-3-9-3, and my full Kolbe A Index report can be viewed at Robin Kavall Kolbe A Index Report.

  8. Debbie Morgan on December 1st, 2008 8:55 pm

    Hi Larry! Thanks for this information. I wasn’t willing to pay the $50 for the results at this time, so I don’t know my results, but maybe at some point I will.

  9. Daniel Melnick on December 1st, 2008 9:41 pm

    My Kolbe Index A result is 7-7-2-4, and my report link is Daniel Melnick Kolbe A Index Report.

  10. shaxx on December 1st, 2008 11:26 pm

    Thanks Larry for being one of my top EntreCard droppers for November 2008!

  11. Chayim Lando on December 2nd, 2008 3:40 pm

    I also learned about Kolbe from Robin Kavall.

    I am a 6-2-8-4.

    I have begun to investigate the idea of using the Kolbe Youth test to determine the ideal educational paradigm to use for a child.

  12. Linda P. Morton on December 3rd, 2008 4:56 pm


    Another great post. And you seem to be acquiring quite a following.



  13. Dr. Pamela Armstrong on December 4th, 2008 12:22 am

    My Kolbe Index A is 5-4-8-3, explain - maintain - improvise - imagine.

  14. Qualifizierte digitale Signatur on December 9th, 2008 6:08 am

    Hey, Larry,

    I love your topic. It is very interesting.

  15. Les Witherspoon on December 23rd, 2008 1:50 pm

    While I think that Kolbe is on to something, we found that the follow up for the test is poor. No real advice on how to handle areas of life in which someone supposedly is not strong in (but which are necessary). Advising someone cavalierly to just never bother with doing things on schedule won’t cut it. (And beware of getting their cute little audios on how to make the most of your index profile. There is no real advice on there, just lots of “oh, celebrate who you are!”

    And I had to contact them after what turned out to be an outdated audio (from a supplier that they linked to) was assuring my highly paid managerial partner that his life would be just fine in the manual trades - he’s heavy in Implementor. He was so devastated that it took me some days to remind him of just how well he has done and get his self-image back on track. I contacted them, they apologized that we’d gotten an old one and admitted that they had heard from other furious customers who were upset at being told that their supposed future lay as security guards and etc., especially since they were managers. But to be honest, as far as I am concerned, the damage is done for us, and we do not recommend this index to others without extreme caution, mainly because she does not tell you what to do with the info except to simply not do anything that you aren’t strong in.

    Of interest also is that the founder’s father was known for some “IQ test” that was widely used to place people throughout the armed services, etc. - though about all it did was measure the level of education that somebody had. (It’s now used occasionally mainly as an entry level screening tool and for placing football players in various positions in teams). The founder has dyslexia and evidently spent her childhood defending herself as being “Good enough”. While I understand that the founder has had to come to terms with having dyslexia, and perhaps accept that there are things she’s not suited for, I’d like to gently suggest that there is a huge difference between having dyslexia and simply not being instinctively motivated, say, to clean the basement or do hands on things, or to follow a schedule. A good use of these materials would be to help people learn how to work with their weaknesses to address those areas of life impacted by them. As the founder evidently did for herself: She went on to get a degree in journalism; she did not reconcile herself to a life without reading!

    As well, I’d like to suggest everybody look at what the laws and etc. are about using assessment instruments for employment. I haven’t time to cite them here, but one is supposed to show research and evidence that it actually correlates with someone’s ability to do the job. If you hire someone on any basis other than their skill set, you can be in deep trouble legally.

    I’d also note that despite her claims that the test is color blind, the results did show that there were differences between the distribution of index results for African Americans and those for other groups, so I suspect that yes, Virginia, some of this may be culturally influenced and not as “innate” as claimed.

    I found that their research is lacking, what research there is is poor (I’m trained in the sciences), and at least one of the studies showed that while it did help teams work together more pleasantly, it didn’t actually improve the results they got, help them produce more, etc. Additionally, I note that the scientific community has not picked it up for research, and this is interesting, because usually they do, sooner or later.

    In short, I think the test is interesting, but has flaws. If it helps you, lovely, but I would not use it for job assessment and placing, and I would be careful of using it for children.

    Les Witherspoon
    Seattle, WA

  16. Jacob Engel on December 23rd, 2010 1:29 pm

    Hi Larry,

    I stumbled onto your site while researching Kolbe. I didn’t do the test and as Les of Seattle wrote, it doesn’t look like the the research community picked up on this. I have done extensive work with Myers-Briggs (MBTI) and DISC as a certified coach and in team/leadership training and found it to be very informative on both assessing your innate personality and evaluating your natural versus adaptive behavior style. Both have extensive research and are being used by major corporations.

    Jacob Engel
    Monsey, NY

  17. Larry Brauner on December 23rd, 2010 3:04 pm

    I’m not very knowledgeable about these tests. However, since taking the Kolbe test a couple of years ago, I’ve made changes that have helped me get more enjoyment from my work.

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