The Story of Whotype – A Research Project Turned Social Impact Platform

Greg Genung • April 23,2019 • Whotype

Whotype – a research project – turned social impact platform.

Where it all started – a fact: Personality is the fabric that connects us all. 

The power of personality is pervasive in our lives. It is the driving force behind every single individual experience we are having in all of our relationships, in relationship with our inner self and externally in the many complicated relationships we have with others. Personality is the life force that connects us all. Fact is, we take our personality with us everywhere we go, but personalities are quite complex when studied from top to bottom. The self-discovery-improvement-awareness journey is a lifelong one.

In your life, have you ever worked in a group function that worked so incredibly well that there was that feeling of being unstoppable, that life was conspiring with you? A winning, a successful company, or an amazing partner? What made up that successful pair, that winning teams, that performing group? Most world leaders, when pressed to the foundation of success, agree that “success is all about the people” or “success starts and ends with people.”

I think we can all agree to those sentiments, but we live in a world where everyone is special, a snowflake, and we know fundamentally deep down that we are all different. There are so many different types of people, with so many unique quirks and traits that make each of us different. One would wonder – how do you quantify the personalities, is it possible to understand everyone’s personality and why they are the way they are, why they do what they do?

Setting out to build a “Personality-Driven Engine”

We wanted to build a tool for people to use that helps build out these personality dynamics to help make use of them. We needed something to help us visualize group dynamics, build better teams, help understand each other in order to best work and best agree. We needed something to help us discover what we call the power of personality.

When we set out 4 years ago to build the Whotype engine, ultimately the goal was to be able to take any pair (one on one dynamic analysis) or group (3 or more dynamic analysis) and to be able to understand how group dynamics were working, why people do what they do and how we can work with that vs against that. There were so many questions, and as the research expanded, we looked into the multiple major personality testing systems or models as well as the hundreds of self help books – but there was still the issue of having something you could always take with you, like our personalities.

Enter Whotype version 0.1. (This was basically multiple ridiculous spreadsheets).

We had questions, from the inside out and wanted to build something useful. 

We had a number of questions that we wanted to answer overall, but these six stood out as the biggest questions that pervasively had our attention as market needs and problems we wanted to solve as a business – they are as follows:

  • What derives group personality and how does each person’s type drive the collective group dynamic?
  • What taps into motivations, health, needs, and behaviors and how all of this works in groups?
  • Are there certain types or combinations of personalities can best work, best perform, and best agree?
  • Why do certain people work well with some people not well with others; what brings out the best?
  • How does all of this actually work as our energy levels change from day to day; can this be integrated?
  • What types of people do I best work and best agree with given my energy levels at any given time/place?

In searching through some of the systems out there, we found MBTI, DISC, Enneagram, and Strengthsfinder useful for determining what we ended up looking for in the ultimate vision. What we liked from each we will say and leave the rest for another time. What we can say is that we think that MBTI is like the Model T Ford of personality systems and has been highly beneficial to the industry as a whole in its ability to determine dominant traits. DISC we found helpful in aggregating people into common group learning, communication, and behavioral style reactions based on environmental conditions. With regards to the widely mis-underdstood Enneagram, we found it highly useful in understanding how personality energy and process flow in behavior and how mathematics can be applied to personality. Finally, as we looked deeper into Strengthsfinder we found that due to a new type of culture norm, the system of managing the human psyche by identifying combinations of talent manifestation and identification of those unique traits across any age group.

Research and spreadsheets become code; an App appears

These primary questions led us on a multi-year journey brought working algorithms, a working set of alpha product tests, and about three years to fully flush out people, process, and product. Eventually we landed on an MVP that we wanted to go toward and build out. This MVP required a world-class/capable team, seeking to take understanding the power of personality in personal and professional relationships to build a tool that helps anyone  best work and best agree. We also wanted to take into account, and account for the fact that everyone is running on different versions of sleep, energy, food, health, thoughts, etc. Fast forward those three years of incubation and code development, and Whotype engine emerged. The ways in which the “old” personality systems worked we wanted to bring forward into Whotype, and the ways in which we disliked (a later blog) the other systems we wanted to make sure we also brought forward.

  1. Use personality type root motivation and pattern of behavior to (ultimate goal)
  2. Calculate if personally focused, partner focused, or socially focused (sub-goal 1)
  3. Calculate thought/head, feeling/heart, or intuition/instinct driven (sub-goal 2)
  4. Calculate the current energy level 0r behavioral health status (sub-goal 3)

Here’s the one formula we ended up going with in the end to drive the Whotype engine:

Centering Self Motivations (X)   Centering Relationship Motivations   (X)   Centering Social Motivations

Given the combination structure above, Whotype emerged as a Triangulation testing engine. Whotype tests for primary motivations, center of energy, and the type of social focus that each person has. Based on these elements Whotype produces a highly complex and accurate set of outputs for each person that derive their normal core style, their balance or best version, the stressors or worst version, and the motivated or active center of the type. This is why we say that people don’t have multiple personalities, but rather one personality that’s interactive with several different types of levels of energy.

Whotype Alpha (v1) Learnings; Systems, User, Experience testing net-nets

Well, suffice it to say that we tried our new system out on several companies and hundreds of interested users. We had many learnings that brought us back to the development table to regather and regroup. The things we learned on round 1 were as follows:

  1. User Experience:
    1. Users demand an experience
    2. Users require tech work on all devices, browsers, continents
    3. Most Users dislike long(er) forms, tests, questions, paragraphs
  2. Personality System Bias
    1. There exists a horoscope mental bias around personality related exploration on all levels
    2. Personality narratives are usually delivered as more of a “one-dimensional reading” form the individual.
    3. Most people have been buying books, going to seminars, and seeking through the different personality systems.
  3. Human Ideal Bias
    1. A large number of our users considered themselves a unique snowflake, and specially designed.
    2. There is a subset of users out there that have a fear of privacy related data collection.
    3. THere’s an even larger number of people out there that don’t know who they are and don’t really care.

Whotype (V2); pivot points can happen when your moving

Back again and ready to roll. We had changed our product strategy (pivoted) and rebuilt the backend engine. It was needed. We took a good hard look at our MVP, our capacity and our messaging. We took a look at our own skills and where we needed help. We gathered up the cash and went into round two. Engagement had proven useful in the overall strategy. Who says you “have” to launch something? Who say’s that it’s gotta just “get out there” – and why? We decided to pull back and re-design, re-architect, re-evaluate our strategy. I believe this was also the point where we chose to get it right. We determined our culture was about accuracy, truth, transparency in that set of decisions and the product we are launching with is many folds better; so were we as a team.

In determining the product we wanted to deliver we ended up revising some things. We took out a couple of features, we started talking about user stories instead of stories of users. We made Whotype API driven and ready for integration into any other system that wants to personalize an experience around their users, that’s the big idea. The revolution will not be just televised, it will be highly personalized. The future of software interactions, the home integration, the automated car, the primary communication device (smart pad/watch) can all be built around your personality, tailored to you. The future will be highly personalized.

A Maximum Viable Product emerges; A new way to see the MVP

With the upcoming release of Whotype, and our initial public launch of the free service is intended to deliver the following elements to all people worldwide for free:

Whotype Social (Free Version) includes the following features:

  • Search entire personality database
  • Unlimited retypes; self-exploration typing engine
  • Basic social network features, including
  • Unlimited personality actions (typing and quirks)
  • Unlimited friend connections (we call them peeps)
  • Unlimited feedback from friends
  • Basic motivational coaching for all types
  • Whotype newsfeed for social updates
  • Demographic Research using Harmonizer
  • Unlimited search; anything tied to personality
  • Auto-Complete Personality Profile
  • Auto-Update My Groups Pages in Streams
  • Auto-Update My Company Page in Streams
  • Whotype Exploration Library

Whotype feature components including:

  • Friend Graph Sort*
  • Whotype Coupler/Social Analyzer*
  • Re-tests or Re-Type*
  • Create and Save Custom Groups*
  • Non-existent advertisements*

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