What are you doing during the lockdown?  It seems that we have all began to adjust to the new norm.  Apart from working and reading, one of the things that I have been doing is catching up on Netflix. Two shows, in particular, have been on my list.

  • The Last Dance.
  • Sunderland Till I Die.

I wanted to share two anecdotes that tie in quite nicely with a recent post about Team Chemistry I shared.  It also leads me nicely to talk about an app I built recently on some research to gauge the personality of someone.  There is a link below to the app where you can try it out for yourself for FREE and get a personalised report like this sample report.

No one is bigger than the team - Chicago Bulls

During the 1980s and 1990s - Michael Jordon was the talisman of the Chicago Bulls basketball team.  There was a team around him, but it often became about him and how many points he would score in the game.  He would play all over the court - attacking and defending.   As the years passed it soon became evident that it couldn't just be about Michael.  The mindset shift between Michael and the coaching staff meant that although he still played, he became a mentor to other players and brought out the best of them to work as a team - this was when the Bulls truly started to dominate the NBA.

Talent does not mean it will fit - Sunderland FC

In the January 2019 transfer window, Sunderland FC played in League 1 of the English football league. They were struggling for a striker the manager had targetted a footballer. Valued at £10 million the player was out of the reach of the club, yet desperate for a striker, desperate for someone to help them get a promotion the club splashed out £3 million on the player - the highest transfer fee ever recorded for League 1.  High hopes were placed on the player, that the hefty price would translate into goals to win matches.  There was no initial goal rush, and before long questions started were asked. The problem is, was the decision to buy based on talent, rather than who is best to fit in the team?

Both of these stories are real examples of having the correct chemistry within the team.  In the first story, it is about the shift that not one man is responsible for a winning team and being able to bring the best out of the other players.  The second story is about hiring talent only to find they don't fit in the current system.

Big Five Personalities

Before I continue with the rest of the post I am aware there are so many charlatans on the web, I do not claim to be a psychologist but the information presented below is well documented and the application developed is based on sound scientific research.

We can learn from sporting teams and how the challenges they overcome to create winning teams.  We can analyse and look into what works and what does not work and transfer them into development teams.  There is no room for egos in a winning sports team, neither there should be room for egos in a development team.  The question is, what is the balance between hard skills, personality and soft skills? Importantly, how do you filter them out before they join you?

As I started my investigation, I came across the Big Five personality based on the OCEAN model.

  • Openness - How open you are to new ideas?
  • Conscientiousness - How hard-working you are?
  • Extraversion - How you strive in social situations?
  • Agreeableness - How empathic you are to others?
  • Neuroticism - How emotionally stable you are?

These five categories are rated on a scale of 1-5 and its is accepted that each one plays a significant role in your personality. It is regarded as reliable amongst the psychology community with correlations between scores on the scale and peoples traits.

Understanding whom we are hiring can help us hire the right fit for the team or organisation.  Equally, knowing who we are can help us find a workplace that matches our personality.

Using these results, could it be that we can start to build teams of characters and traits?  Of course, it is, for many years, various companies have been using psychometric tests for this very reason to help understand if someone is a "fit" for the team.  It is far easier to hire someone to fit the team than it is to change someone's personality.  I have always said that it is easier to teach a skill than it is to change someone's personality.

The Big Five App

One of the best ways to understand something is to build it.  To help understand the OCEAN model so that I could explain it easier, I decided to implement my solution.  The tech stack I used is:

  • React
  • Firebase
  • Tailwind CSS

With it being personality-based, I also used a conversational UI component to create an interactive experience rather than a simple form.

The test based on the research made open source by the International Personality Item Pool (https://ipip.ori.org/) is the IPIP-NEO 120.  IPIP-NEO 120 has been studied and verified as accurate, although it is shorter than the full 300 question test.

If you have 10 minutes to answer 120 short questions on the test, you can get a report based on your personality according to the Big Five.

I was asked today with what I am doing with the data. When I explained there were no plans to use the data, the next question was, "Why did you build it?" - Don't we live in an untrusting world? :)

The answer to both these questions is the application is there for you to help you get a better understanding of who YOU are. It is also for you to give to your team members or potential candidates to fill in before joining your organisation or just as importantly if they have the personal qualities you are looking for your team with internal staff moves.


Team chemistry is a fundamental part of team success. Google spent much time researching teams and found that it doesn't matter who is on your team, more how your team effectively work with each other.

We can see that from the stories that I posted - the Chicago Bulls came into their own when it was about the team more than one player and Sunderland pinning hopes on one player didn't work out quite as well as planned.

Understanding how someone will fit into your team is essential whether that is during recruitment or internal staff moves.  Not everyone will fit in successfully when they move squads.

The Big Five personality test is a simple yet effective method to understand your own or someone else's personality attributes and may be useful in these scenarios to flag potential issues.  The results of the test can then assist you to identify the traits in your organisation or team, will enable you to pair similar characteristics together and also avoid clashing personalities.