Kolbe Wisdom™ – The Striving Instincts and Beyond.

Last time I introduced the principles behind the Kolbe Wisdom™. How, by using the 32-question Kolbe A Index, it is possible to identify the striving instincts that drive natural behaviours. I outlined the four Conative Characteristics:

  • Fact Finder – Gathering and sharing of information.
  • Follow through – Sorting and Storing Information.
  • Quick Start – Dealing with risk and uncertainty.
  • Implementation – Handling space and intangibles.

This time I would like to start to share with you how I use the system in my day-to-day professional life.

Before working with an individual or a group I have them take the Kolbe A Index and I spend some time examining the results.


There is invariably a “light-bulb” moment when a person first sits down and reads their Kolbe A analysis. Usually it comes with a sense of comprehension, which can lead to acceptance of why they struggle with some aspects of their life. Frequently there is a feeling of relief that that there isn’t something “wrong” with them because they seem to succeed in some areas but continue to wrestle with others.

Often people will tell me that they wished they had known their Kolbe Index result years ago as they are able to discover the source of their stress.

With the assistance of the analysis I am able to coach individuals on how they might perform better and to be a happier and more useful member of a team. In some instances it is apparent that someone is doing the wrong job and would be better employed in a totally different role.


With the Kolbe A analyses for the whole team then it is possible by examining the Kolbe Synergy report to determine the distribution of talent within a team or the separate parts of teams e.g. nurses, front desk, clinicians, partners.

If there is an imbalance of any of the conative characteristics then the team’s performance cannot be at its optimum.

Cloning is the term given to uniformity of talent or lack of conative diversity, which limits opportunity and leads to Inertia. Frequently people will appoint others that agree with them and work the way that they do. Ultimately this will result in stagnation and a loss of productivity caused by uniform action and boredom.

Conflict or too many people with similar characteristics can result in Polarisation between separate parts of a large team e.g receptionists who initiate in Fact Finder may clash with nurses who initiate in Implementor and have a significantly different approach to problem solving.

Far too common is strain which results in Depletion. This comes from too high a proportion of team members trying to perform in ways that are not natural to them. Mental energy works against itself when the conative instincts are denied. If this happens in a group then it will be reflected in the bottom line.

Tension leads to Meltdown, which happens when people who know perfectly well who they are, suffer from unrealistic, external rather than self-imposed, pressure to act otherwise. A classic example of this in Dental Practice is the nurse that returns to work after a career break and runs the front desk to last only a month before leaving in tears.


With our knowledge of the existing team we can see where there may be missing energies in the set up. So when looking to make the final choice of candidates for a post, each of the short-listed takes the A Index and the result is compared with the existing strengths and, above all, deficiencies of the team.

Beyond the A Index

I am not trying to muddy the waters but it’s time to mention the B & C Indices. You will recall that the A index measured the individual’s instinctive talent.

The Kolbe C is taken by the employer or supervisor and completed as if the ideal individual were taking the index. This gives the job requirements or functional necessities.

The Kolbe B focuses on the methods that the jobholder perceives are necessary for success, so the jobholder’s self-expectations.

Comparing A and B gives an idea how much strain you may be under because of the pressure you put upon yourself.

Comparing A and C indicates whether another person or the organisation is limiting your opportunity to achieve, thereby causing tension between you and that person.

Comparing B and C can explain differing perceptions of the role.


At first you may feel this is a significant investment of time and effort and indeed that is how many clients have felt. However if you consider the cost to your business of just one bad appointment, one person doing the wrong job you will find that getting involved with the Kolbe Wisdom™ not only makes economic sense but also strengthens the team as a whole and as individuals.

Next time I will give some specific examples from practices that have used Kolbe Wisdom™ for their benefit.

There are only four fully trained and accredited KOLBE Consultants in the UK.

There is only one experienced in working with Dentists and their teams.

If you would like to find out more about using these fantastic tools in your practice or if you would be interested in a presentation to your study group or society contact Alun at alun@alunrees.com or on 07778148583.

First published in Apex the on-line Dental Journal from the Dental Learning Hub.

Published by Alun Rees

Dental Business Coach. Analyst. Troubleshooter. Consultant. Writer. Presenter. Broadcaster.

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