MPA Profiles Help Organizations Make Savvy Appointments

The following case study, drawn from the annals of British management consultant Warren Lamb, was reported in Carol-Lynne Moore, Movement and Making Decisions (New York: Rosen, 2005). Click here to shop

Lamb encountered a case of “like hires like” in a privately-owned confectionary company. The top team, which consisted of the two owners and a sales manager, were all Attention-oriented. Thus, Lamb found that a lot of energy was being concentrated on preliminary consideration and planning, yet little was done to actualize plans. The consequences of this approach were demonstrated dramatically.

The confectioners had been involved for several months in negotiations to purchase another company. Many congenial meetings had been held with the owners of the other enterprise and arrangements for purchase were being outlined with all due attention and care. On the basis of this thorough groundwork, the confectioners fully expected the acquisition to go through in due course. Consequently, they were dumbfounded to read in the morning paper one day that the company they wished to purchase had been bought by a competitor. After months of painstaking consideration, another group who were faster off the mark had gotten the prize!


Some time later, the Attention-oriented sales manager left the company. This provided Lamb with an opportunity to find a new sales manager whose preferred initiatives would complement the Attention-orientation of the co-owners. A suitable candidate was found, and Lamb introduced this Commitment-oriented manager into the team, hoping for the best.

However, after only a few months on the job, the sales manager was ready to resign. “No one takes any action,” he complained to Lamb. But Lamb persuaded the man to stay, and by gradual increments, his Commitment-oriented initiatives began to have impact. The new sales manager found he could capitalize on the solid groundwork laid by his Attention-oriented colleagues. They, in turn, came to appreciate his readiness to keep things moving along. The kind of inaction that had caused them miss opportunities, as in the case of the acquisition, ceased occurring.