Business

The Humm Handbook (Chris Golis): A review

The Humm Handbook: Lifting Your Level of Emotional Intelligence is a book by Christopher Golis that presents a personality modelling framework named “Humm-Wadsworth” . The Humm-Wadsworth model (abbreviated to Humm) attempts to describe human personality in terms of sets of common traits and desires that are found in all people to greater or lesser degrees.

The framework is specifically marketed as a business tool, that when applied can increase our emotional intelligence and our ability to deal with people — an essential tool for managers in the business world.

As I am personally very interested in personality models, and have spent some time in this area, after reading this book I thought I’d put together this review with some thoughts.

Summary of review

The book contains a model that could be useful, and the open conversation about personalities and attempts to understand people and what motivates them are good things. There’s a lot that could be learned by reading and contemplating the ideas in the book. However, I offer some specific criticisms of the presentation of the model that I think could improve the quality and credibility of the book overall.

1.0 Theoretical Foundations

1.1 Introduction — understanding people is a worthy effort

Before we go into any detail about the model itself, it’s important to acknowledge the “worthiness of the cause”. Trying to understand what drives and motivates others is generally a good thing, assuming we’re coming from the right place intention-wise (seeking out “win-win” relationships, not with the attempt to manipulate).

On this note, in the book, Golis says:

“We all categorise people all the time. No one approaches anybody without doing some classification. We automatically see people as ‘male or female’, ‘attractive or unattractive’, ‘friend or enemy’, ‘good or bad’ etc. It is dishonest to think we don’t do this. What is far better is to have a consistent and scientific model of behaviour to understand other people or ourselves.”

This was definitely a statement I could agree with. It’s the nature of the human mind to identify patterns. We are going to model folks anyway, so why not seek out better models?

With that as a background “common understanding”, let’s talk about this model.

1.2 Can we model personality (“scientifically”)?

It seems to be a genuine question whether we can reliably model personalities. From my research in the professional psychological world, this doesn’t seem to be perfectly clear. While a personality test might be very popular in the business world, the professional psychological community at large seems to ignore or discredit them (it’s also difficult to interpret precisely what the implications of this discrepancy are — are personality tests / profiles totally incredible, or are they just not useful for the kinds of problems psychologists face in their therapeutic work?).

I’ve even heard a psychologist say “there’s no such thing as personality, it’s just a construct”. I found this difficult to believe.

Unfortunately in the book Golis doesn’t spend much time defending the concept of personality and personality tests generally, he more so jumps straight to this particular model. So for the skeptical audience, I think a bit more groundwork would have been necessary, or this lack of defense of the concept of personality might have been perceived as a sleight of hand.

If I were to attempt this, my defense of the effort to model human personality / temperament done in this book would go something like this:

  1. Words like “aggressive” exist for a reason. This is because human beings, by observing the behaviour of other human beings, noticed certain trends or patterns. Words evolved to represent those patterns. Hence you can make sense of a statement such as “Shawn is very aggressive”. This sentence is intelligible because you know what “aggressive” means as at some point in the past you learned this label in reference to real-life behaviour.
  2. Words exist in a space where there are clusters of meaning. “Aggressive” is similar to “contentious” (while not being identical). Hence some degree of grouping is possible. Other words exist that have larger or more broad scopes, and could subsume other concepts.
  3. Hence, if you continue to group similar words together, eventually you’ll come out with roughly discreet archetypes. The more you aggregate the micro “words” used to describe people’s behaviour the more you’ll come out with higher-level type that subsumes them.
  4. Eventually, this process will yield a smaller number of personality “types”. Their boundaries will be fuzzy and imprecise, there may be some overlap between them, but they may be somewhat useful.

My understanding is that something like the argument above is where the Big 5 comes from. It could also be used to defend the attempts made by the Humm-Wadsworth model. (See the Lexical Hypothesis). From that point it would be a matter of arguing that these personality types were derived from analysis of (something?). This is where I am unclear, however, in this document on Golis’ site he adds more of this theoretical background, explaining that the original concepts and ideas modeled in this book originate from mental illnesses (it’s also in the book). The segue from model of mental illness to a model of desires is not entirely clear to me, perhaps it requires more explanation.

Critique #1: For the skeptics among us, more time could be spent defending the concept of personality profiling generally, and explaining the theoretical segue from mental illness to desires as the background of Humm-Wadsworth. 

1.3 Can we test a person’s personality reliably?

Let’s assume from the arguments above then that:

  1. this thing we’re calling “personality” does exist, and
  2. it can be modeled (somewhat accurately) somehow.

We then run into the next problem, which in my opinion is the more genuine problem: how do we reliably test someone’s personality and place them into a category described by our model?

As far as I understand, this is where more problems lie. Can someone take the test multiple times and reliably arrive at the same conclusions? There are three related problems here:

  1. We’re assuming humans are good at honestly testing their own personalities, they answer the test questions with the greatest level of self-awareness possible.
    1. (Chicken-and-egg problem, the Humm model is to help build self-awareness, but you need self-awareness to accurately tease your type out through the test).
  2. We’re assuming that the test itself is good at identifying the personality of the tester, even when answered honestly.

I think #1 is the biggest problem. This is why even though I believe there is value in personality profiling, I don’t believe it’s fair to test people specifically before hiring them for a role, or even necessarily once hired. Use the model yourself to try to understand people? Sure. Make them take a test that may not accurately represent them? No, because doing so gives them performance pressure.

Actually I think the best compromise is simply to explain to people what the model is, and ask them where they think they fit. After thinking about that for a while you might get a better answer by self-allocation into the categories than perhaps by taking the test (again this relies on good self-awareness, the same problem facing doing the test itself).

With those sections as an introduction to some of the theoretical challenges facing the framework, let’s dive in to the framework itself.

2.0 The 7 Components

The Humm handbook presents a model of 7 personality components. The angle of analysis is via Dominant Desire or Motivation. Imagine human personality is a black box, and we’re shining a light on it from the angle of desire.

Stereotype Dominant Desire
Normal Order
Mover To Communicate
Doublechecker Security
Artist Creativity
Politician Winning
Engineer Completion of projects
Hustler Material Success

2.1 Criticism: Component Caricatures

Probably one of the first areas where I felt the book lost a bit of credibility (*perhaps unnecessarily) was in the personality caricatures being unnecessarily exaggerated or having an unnecessary amount of specific examples for each component. To be fair, this fact is sort of qualified in the introduction of the book:

“Now, if a person had only one excessive, dominant desire their personality would deteriorate into a caricature. Such people, it must be stressed, do not exist in real life.”

Even so, as I was reading the caricatures for each component type, I found myself experiencing some combination of skepticism and good-natured desire to tease. Let me explain:

As an example, in many of the components, a small anecdote was given in regards to how this component would behave, E.G with regards to a meeting time. Movers will come late to a meeting and apologise. Politicians will come late to the meeting and not apologise. Normals will be on time for meetings. But then it went on, Doublecheckers drive Volvos or Toyotas, Artists drive Citroëns or Saabs, Hustlers like wearing gold and red, Doublecheckers women like wearing beige, etc.

Eventually at one point I wanted to ask the book: “So what flavour ice cream does a politician like eating? Do hustlers like Tofu or Pad Thai? If I go to the beach on Saturday instead of the movies, does that mean I’m an Engineer or Politician?”

You get my point. The broad categories or components actually made sense to me, but what seemed to water-down their value was the unnecessary focus on specific little details attributed to each category. I felt this eroded the credibility of the categories, perhaps unnecessarily. The problem comes when an artist doesn’t hold his hand over his mouth or have a beard, or an engineer says “I hear you” instead of “I feel you”! Those details can both be distracting to the model and perhaps inaccurate too, they press the model too hard into concrete reality, and I think it breaks somewhat as a result.

Critique #2: Too many concrete examples of preferences are given for each component, more high-level abstract descriptions could be enough. 

2.2 Criticism: Component Focus; Negative & Positive

A component being absent is about as significant as it being present. That means, knowing someone is a low Doublechecker tells you just as much useful information as knowing they are a high Doublechecker. Thus the Doublechecker trait is a continuum, low to high.

The problem with the model is it seems to focus more so on dominant traits and less so on weaker traits. But again, knowing someone is weak in a trait is also very useful information. Indeed, perhaps even worthy of giving it a name.

For example, a low Politician might be called a “Follower”. A low Normal might be called “Developing”, etc.

On the website 16Pesonalities, which presents a variation of the Myers-Briggs model, this balance is understood. A high extrovert leaning implies a low introvert leaning. A strong intuitive leaning implies a weaker observant leaning. These are presented as traits on a scale, and names are given such that there’s not “high” or “low” but one or the other.

This is clearly the case in the Humm model. Components can be strong and weak, so they are on a continuum, but that’s not focused on.

Critique #3: Negative traits could have names too, like low Politician is Follower, etc. 

This leads to my suggestions below in section 2.3.

2.3 Component combinations; room for improvement

It’s expressed clearly in the book that everyone is some combination of components. A section starting on page 107 begins to combine components into more viable “real-life” personality types.

I have two suggestions for improvement in this area:

Critique #4: Combinations could be better named… 

It’s clear that the combinations themselves are actually the “personalities” we’d find in real life. But they’re only named as as a combination of traits, E.G “Hustler-Politician” (HP) could be given a unique name to represent this combination. Furthermore, it’s implied that a “Hustler-Politican” has “low” in all other traits. This also says a lot and could be explored further.

Critique #5: The set of trait combinations is way larger than the book presents… 

On top of #4, if you really push the model further theoretically, it becomes clear that a large number of component combinations exist in the real world. For example, 17 combinations are presented in the book, where actually 2^6=64 combinations really exist (if you consider normal a “wrapper”). For example, the book does not present any commentary for the following theoretical double combination:

  1. Doublechecker-Mover

And many possible triple combinations are not presented, E.G:

  1. Politician-Engineer-Artist
  2. Politician-Engineer-Doublechecker
  3. Politician-Engineer-Hustler
  4. Politician-Engineer-Mover

(the list goes on).

The combinations are actually where the rubber meets the road in the model. If I were writing the book, I’d dial down the coverage of the traits (including the specific details as outlined in 2.1), and dial up the coverage of the combinations. That’s actually quite tough to do also, as combinations are complex (like real human personalities), and it would result in a total of 64 combinations, 128 if you count normal separately. But those combinations are where the model takes on real life and addresses more of the subtleties of real personalities.

Humm-Wadsworth: Interaction with other models

Finally, for those of us who are interested in the other personality profiling models, an interesting question is how they correspond with the Humm model presented in this book. I am familiar with the Big 5, and Myers-Briggs (MBTI), and DISC. Certainly others exist.

In Golis’ website page 22 of this document, he states “The five most common 7MTF components roughly correspond with the Five Factors”

 

OCEAN Factor (Big 5) Characteristics 7MTF Component (HUMM)
Openness to creativity Appreciation for art, are emotionally sensitive and curious, and seek adventure, unusual ideas, and variety of experience. Artist
Conscientiousness Self-disciplined, act dutifully, and demonstrate planned rather than spontaneous
behaviour.
Engineer
Extroversion Outgoing, positive and energetic and seek
stimulation in the company of others
Socialiser (Mover)
Agreeableness Friendly, compassionate, and cooperative rather towards others Doublechecker
Neuroticism Lack self-control and tend to easily experience unpleasant emotions such as anger, anxiety, depression, or vulnerability Low Regulator (Low Normal)

This is interesting because it opens the question of “What about the other two?” (Politician and Hustler). Surely those are somewhat related to extroversion. Again, the overlap is not complete or perfectly clear.

A good explanation could be an analogy. Perhaps human personality is like a black box. Each time we model it, we are shining a light into the box and seeing what there is to be seen. A different model is like shining the light in from a different angle, different properties come to the surface view.

Hence, for example, The “Humm light” has described itself as focused on human motivation, perhaps at a high level when motivation is considered, those 7 traits emerge from the interrogation. While the “Big 5 light” is based on the Lexical Hypothesis and Factor Analysis, in essence, it’s like asking “so what do people say about personality broadly?” When the question is looked at from that angle, those 5 traits emerge.

There appears to also be somewhat of a relationship between the Big 5 and MBTI. The website 16Personalities presents a variation of MBTI that includes another addition to the classical 4 letters called Identity, which corresponds with Normal in Humm, and Neuroticism in Big 5. The table putting these three together then would look something like this (named by Big 5 terminology, other terminology is on the side):

Big 5: Extraversion Positive Negative
Name for Component in model
Big 5 Extraversion Introversion Extraversion
MBTI Extraversion Introversion Mind
Humm High Mover Low Mover Mover (Politician?/Hustler?)
Big 5: Openness Positive Negative
Name for Component in model
Big 5 High Openness to experience Low Openness to experience Openness
MBTI Intuitive Observant Energy
Humm High Artist Low Artist Artist
Big 5: Agreeableness Positive Negative
Name for Component in model
Big 5 High Agreeableness Low Agreeableness Agreeableness
MBTI Feeling Thinking Nature
Humm High Doublechecker Low Doublechecker Doublechecker
Big 5: Conscientiousness Positive Negative
Name for Component in model
Big 5 High Conscientiousness Low Conscientiousness Conscientiousness
MBTI Judging Prospecting Tactics
Humm High Engineer Low Engineer Engineer
Big 5: Neuroticism Positive Negative
Name for Component in model
Big 5 High Neuroticism Low Neuroticism Neuroticism
MBTI Turbulent Assertive Identity
Humm Low Normal High Normal Normal

These properties do not have perfect overlap. The lines can be a bit blurry. Also, knowing the meaning of the Big 5 and MBTI dimensions, I think the overlap with Humm is definitely not clean / clear, but this is the core idea.

Conclusion

As stated upfront, the effort to understand people and how they work, when paired with the correct motivations, is a good thing to do. Perhaps personality is like the “black box”, and each model is an attempt to shine the light inside. We all know human nature is complex and subtle, and often defies simple description.

I think the Humm model is a good effort. I have made several suggestions / critiques in this article of where I think the presentation of the Humm model in this book could be improved. One that I’d like to see is a more rigorous / verbose explanation of how it can claim to be scientifically valid, this is not about citing the credentials of who invented it, but about speaking about the methodology behind the invention. How could the model itself be better validated? What kinds of information / data could disprove the model? Could we describe the trait combinations in a more comprehensive way? These are all relevant questions.

Well, those are the thoughts of this random Engineer-Politician!

Shawn 07-10-2018

One Reply to “The Humm Handbook (Chris Golis): A review”

  1. Some history is necessary.

    I first came across the Humm-Wadsworth in early 1974. It was the first profiling system I had was taught and since then I have definitely learnt is that most people once they have learned a profiling system find it very difficult to adopt another. I am no exception.

    Any profiling system needs to make the trade off between granularity and complexity.

    DiSC uses four quadrants based on two vectors, MBTI has 16 types and is too complicated for most people. Everyone knows their own type but find it difficult to analyse others.

    Fortunately psychologists have come up with the answer: George Miller’s Magic number 7 plus or minus 2 or the limit of short term memory. Thus the ideal system should have 7 variables.

    When I started working at TNT in 1976 in I learnt its selling system. It was developed by Keith Stevenson who was familiar with Miller’s paper and based the selling system on the number 7. It had 7 objections, 7 ways of handling objections, 7 closing techniques, etc. What I did was marry the Humm-Wadsworth to the TNT Selling System. For example with regard to closing Stevenson’s recommendation was that one technique failed try another. I said no, spend time analysing the prospect, work out his or her two most dominant components and use the appropriate closing techniques.

    I worked for four years as the General Manager of TNT’s Payroll Management Systems Division. In my final 18 months the team, who had all been thoroughly inculcated in the Humm system, were involved in 15 major tenders. On a market share basis, we should have won 1 or 2 but in reality we won all 15!

    I then switched careers into investment banking and while in transition wrote a manuscript called Psycho-Selling that outlined the combined systems. I sent it to around a dozen publishers all who rejected the book. Some ten years later and after the successful publication of Enterprise & Venture Capital in 1989, I managed to get Jill Hickson, who at that time was probably Australia’s leading literary agent, to look at the Psycho-Selling manuscript. She came back with the following comments. “The book needs a lot of work. We have to change the title. On the other hand, the chapter on the Hustler is probably the only thing I have ever read that gets inside the head of my husband, Neville Wran (Her husband was the Premier of New South Wales). I could not stop laughing about how on the mark it was. We are going to publish this book.”

    Thus Empathy Selling was born. Jill convinced Lothian to publish the first edition in 1991 and subsequently Kogan Page (1992) in the UK and McGraw Hill (1995) in Australia brought out subsequent editions. The book sold some 15,000 copies.

    However as Jill said the book needed a lot of work. First I had to rename the components. The publishers wanted all references to mental illness expunged. I came up with the idea of changing the names but keeping the first initial. Thus Austistic became Artist, Paranoid became Politician, etc. Also I invented the dominant drives to replace the mental illness. Thus the Depressive became the Doublechecker who was driven by the desire for security.
    Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goldman was first published in 1995. The book, which promoted the concept that emotional intelligence (EQ) was more important than natural intelligence (IQ) in determining success in life, sold 5 million copies in the first five years of publication. Goldman popularly defined EQ using the marshmallow experiment. In the 1960s a group of four-year olds were tested by being given a marshmallow and promised another, if they could wait 10 minutes before eating the first one. Some children could wait and others could not. The experimenters then followed the progress of each child into adulthood, and demonstrated that those with the ability to wait were more successful in life than those who could not. Delayed gratification is a key part of emotional intelligence.

    Unfortunately, while Goldman was correct in his premise about the importance of EQ, he was unable to describe a theory of core emotions. His book defined what EQ is and why it is important but failed to describe a way of how you could improve your EQ. The reason is that Goldman did not have a theory of core emotions like the Humm. Goldman says he believed there are core emotions but admitted in the book that he did not know of an appropriate model.

    When I read Emotional Intelligence for the first time in 1996 I realised that I had the answer to Goldman’s conundrum. I was familiar with the Humm-Wadsworth, which is a scientific model of people’s underlying emotions. At that moment, I promised myself that I would write a book for managers that would lift their level of emotional intelligence. Of course, promising you are going to do something and actually doing it are two different things. For the next ten years, I was too involved in venture capital to consider writing a new book. However in 2006, my elder daughter, Louisa who was a team leader for Skandia, was head hunted to run a team of 30 people at Perpetual before she was 30. She asked me a good question, “What management books should she read?” After some thought, I realised that there was no practical handbook written to help new managers develop their people skills, so I decided that I had to write one myself.

    Thus The Humm Handbook: Lifting Your Level of Emotional Intelligence was born and published in 2007 by Wilkinson Publishing. The Humm Handbook is 192 pages long and is divided into three parts.
    1. Part 1, The Seven Components, describes the Humm technology.
    2. Part II, The Emotionally Intelligent Manager, works though each four stages of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skills using the Humm technology. The reader then learns how the Humm technology can help you as a manager succeed in a number of areas such as team building, management styles, and leadership.
    3. Part III, The Art of Decision Making, comprises the five case studies: Antigone, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, King Lear and Death of a Salesman. After a plot summary, the main characters in the play are analysed using the Humm technology. Did they succeed or fail and if so, how and why? Then the book looks at the key decisions made in each play and what it reveals about the emotional drivers of the various characters. Finally, each case study concludes by drawing some business lessons from the characters and the play. The basis for this section was an MBA elective organised by Charles Handy at the London Business School. Other that learning about the Humm it was easily the best course I have ever done

    Now let us turn to Powrie’s review.

    IQ & Personality Tests.
    There are two key measurements of tests, validity and reliability. Validity states how well the test measures what you are trying to measure. Reliability states that if you repeat the test at a later date how likely are you to get the same result. IQ tests are 99% valid and reliable. The best personality tests are lucky to get to 70%. Some like the MBTI are criticised for only reaching 50%.

    Does this mean you should not use personality tests? My answer is an emphatic no. Chandler & Macleod carried out a number of surveys of managers. Half used personality tests, half did not when recruiting people. They asked the managers after they had worked with their recruits for at least 12 months that if they knew at the time of recruitment what they know now about the recruit would they have hired the candidate? Those managers who relied only on interviews and references said they would have rejected 2/3rds. Those managers who also used personality tests would have rejected 1/3rd. Personality tests do not eliminate people risk but do cut it in half.
    Component Focus: Negative & Positive.

    It is here that I have a real problem. Firstly I have real problems with the MBTI typology. If you are not an extravert you are an introvert. I see extraversion as a quality on a spectrum distributed normally along the bell curve. The majority of people (68%) fall in plus or minus 1 standard deviation. 16% are the high end of the spectrum, the extraverts. The 16% at the low end are introverts. The middle 68% are known as Ambiverts. So if someone is not an extravert he is 4 times more likely to be an ambivert than an introvert.

    Indeed that is how all seven of the Humm components are distributed and how I think of them high-average-low or 3 levels. So if we are talking about possible combinations the number should not be 2^6 as the reviewer suggests but 3^7 or 2,187.

    Most people have two strong components, three average, and two weak. While I agree that for self understanding knowledge of your weak components is useful for self management controlling you dominant components is the key. Ditto for empathy, it is much easier to pick the dominant components in a person. Finally with regard to social skills, appealing to a person’s dominant components is going to achieve results. Appealing to the weak components is almost guaranteed to fail. Remember the Humm is a practical tool to improve the people skills of managers and salespeople.

    Also many profiling systems adopt the reviewer’s suggestion of calling different combinations new names and creating a false mystique to the technology. I must confess I dislike this idea as it creates unnecessary complexity. Humm use the first initials to describe someone. They do not describe someone as Normal-Doublechecker-Politician. They call the person an NDP. Much easier.

    Component Caricatures

    Chandler & Macleod bought the Humm-Wadsworth test from the estate in 1959. They tested some 500,000 people and did subsequent interviews on about 50,000. They started noticing commonalities. For example, Politicians generally wore blue and arrived late. Gradually over time they developed a series of heuristics for each component. When I sat down and wrote Empathy Selling I wanted to create a mnemonic to simplify the task of identifying the components and came up with the idea of TOPDOG. (Talk-Organisation-Position-Dress-Office-Gambit). The Humm has now been taught to some 20,000 people. The feedback I have received from several National Sales Directors of large Multinationals is that the most useful part of the course/book is TOPDOG. The reason is that salesperson instead of leaping into detailed product descriptions now spends time analysing the prospect.

    Humm Developments.

    I wrote The Humm Handbook in 2007. I did not know of the Big Five when I wrote it. Thus the Normal changed from being a non-mental illness to the reciprocal of Neuroticism.

    Also the mental illness of the Engineer was not epilepsy but OCD.

    And ditto for the Hustler; it is not Hysteria but Psychopathy.

    Finally my USA partner in 2016 persuaded me to change some the names and call the system a new name 7MTF. The table below lists the changes over time.

    1935 Humm-Wadsworth 1993 Empathy Selling Revised Mental Illness 7 MTF
    Normal Normal Neurotic Regulator
    Manic Mover Manic Socialiser
    Depressive Doublechecker Depressive Doublechecker
    Autistic Artist Autistic Artist
    Paranoid Politician Paranoid Politician
    Epileptoid Engineer Obsessive-Compulsive Engineer
    Hysteroid Hustler Anti-Social (Dark Triad) GoGetter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business

 
Will AI take your job?

The last few years have seen a dramatic increase in conversation levels around the world regarding Artificial Intelligence (AI). There’s been a good amount of dialogue covering a wide variety of topics: everything from Movies like Ex Machina exploring...

Shawn Powrie
11 min read

Business

 
What is scalability in business?

Scalability. It’s one of those buzzwords we hear all the time in business settings; “Will this scale well?” “This doesn’t seem scalable.” But what does this word and related concept actually entail? This article aims to explore it in...

Shawn Powrie
7 min read