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How to Identify and Utilize Matrix Thinkers

Woman's Eye in Digital MatixToday’s post is by Holly Regan.

Winning teams need a balanced mix of talented players, placed in roles that best utilize each of their strengths. Software Advice recently published a series of articles identifying the personalities of four types of top performers, their strengths and weaknesses and the jobs in which they excel. One personality type that shines through as a potential leader is The Matrix Thinker.

Who Is a Matrix Thinker?

Matrix Thinkers are creative, visionary problem-solvers. Famous Matrix Thinkers include Albert Einstein, John Lennon and Steve Jobs: innovators who changed history. These unique individuals don’t think in a straight line, like most people (a leads to b leads to c); instead, they think more like a cube (a leads to m leads to z leads to c). They are constantly absorbing information, and their ability to make connections among concepts that seem unrelated often leads them to revolutionary new ideas and solutions. Sometimes, however, their thought process just confuses people.

Being a Matrix Thinker is largely determined by genetics: it’s about 75 percent nature and 25 percent nurture. However, it’s important to note that maturity is an independent characteristic. A more mature Matrix Thinker can learn to overcome some of the innate difficulties that may plague a more poorly-functioning person of this personality type.

Strengths of the Matrix Thinker

Highly-functioning Matrix Thinkers are able to synthesize all the information they’re taking in from their environment. They can think clearly and communicate their ideas to others. And even if their desks look messy and disorganized, they likely have a system in place for making sense of it all. Some of the qualities that make Matrix Thinkers great include:

- Problem-solving skills. Matrix Thinkers are able to think in the abstract, which helps them find completely new solutions to complex problems.

- Creativity. Matrix Thinkers not only think creatively, they tend to be artistically expressive, as well, finding inspiration in unexpected places.

- Trailblazing tendencies. Matrix Thinkers can be true visionaries. They are naturally ambitious and confident in their ideas, which can lead them to create exciting new products and processes.

Challenges Matrix Thinkers Face

Matrix Thinkers deal with some unique obstacles: those who are poorly-functioning may exhibit impulsive decision-making, conflict with others and even be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). Challenges that a Matrix Thinker may experience include:

- Distraction. So much information from so many inputs can be distracting. Matrix Thinkers may become disorganized, and start and stop projects erratically.

- Conflict. Matrix Thinkers are fiercely independent. Their firm belief in their own ideas and dislike of structured environments may cause them to butt heads with bosses and coworkers.

- Information overload. Matrix Thinkers can get overwhelmed by all the information they’re taking in. They may put a lot of time and energy into projects that ultimately go unfinished, or wait to start a project until the last minute.

Workplace Roles

Some workplace roles aren’t suitable for Matrix Thinkers: if the work is routine, mundane or repetitive, they probably won’t stick around for long. The best roles for Matrix Thinkers stimulate their intellectual and imaginative drive, such as:

- Creative roles. Matrix Thinkers are at their best in non-structured positions where they can express themselves intellectually and artistically. When given the freedom to pursue their ideas, they can produce a revolutionary product. Matrix Thinkers typically excel as designers, artists or content writers.

- Project-oriented positions. Matrix Thinkers are perfect for project-based work, where they are doing something different every day. They like the sense of accomplishment that comes from a finished product, and like taking on new challenges regularly.

- CEO. Matrix Thinkers typically have the confidence to back up their innovative ideas and the drive to see them through. Those who have honed their communication skills and their ability to synthesize the inputs they’re receiving have the potential to be great, visionary leaders.

Matrix Thinkers can be important members of a winning team–and may even become that team’s leader. Do you have Matrix Thinkers on your teams?  If so, do you have them in the right roles?  Are you personally a Matrix Thinker?  Are you in the right role?  If not, how can you get into a role that’s a better fit for you?

To read more about famous Matrix Thinkers, including how to identify these innovative types during interviews and which management styles they work best under, read the in-depth profile on The New Talent Times.

Holly Regan- Holly Regan is a Managing Editor at Software Advice, where she blogs on a variety of topics related to small business and software products. Her writing has appeared online in The New York Times and The Huffington Post.

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