How to Measure an Individual’s Level of Practicality

September 14, 2020 Aon's Assessment Solutions

conceptual thinking

Part of working in today’s everchanging workplace is being mindful of the bigger picture. Those who feel comfortable with, and are capable of, imagining a scenario which lacks detail and real-world application, can enjoy unfettered creativity and big picture thinking. And yet, there needs to be a balance. There is always a place for those who deal more with the practical and the pragmatic. 

Our ADEPT-15® personality model covers 15 aspects of personality – one of these being Conceptual, which helps us to understand whether someone is pragmatic or inquisitive. The model is arranged into six broad workstyles. There are grouped into two specific styles: the Performance Style which covers the motivations, preferences and attitudes to work; and the Communal Style which looks at how people work with others.  

The Conceptual dimension (along with Flexibility and Mastery) forms part of the Adaptation workstyle of the model (Performance Style).

How is an Individual’s Conceptual Score Seen in Behavior?

The ADEPT-15® Conceptual scale measures how comfortable an individual is with long-term, big-picture, abstract thinking.

At the low-scoring end of the dimension, the scale highlights the behaviors and the preferred approach which tend to be more pragmatic, concrete and of near-term concerns. The high-scoring end of the continuum reflects a greater comfort with imprecision and less interest about practicalities.

As with all personality characteristics, a score at either end of the dimension has both potential positive points to leverage and potential areas to watch out for.

   The Leverage Points

Those scoring high on the Conceptual dimension are likely to:

  • Have broad and varied ideas and intellectual interests.
  • Be more interested in long-term strategy and direction rather than the execution of immediate near-term issues.

Those scoring low on the Conceptual dimension tend to:

  • Prefer to take a practical approach to a challenge.
  • View the world as straightforward.
  • Prefer to solve well-defined problems, rather than novel or ambiguous ones.  

   The Watch-Outs

High-scorers on the Conceptual dimension also are likely to:

  • Be unrealistic at times - despite the focus on innovation and creativity.
  • Be overly abstract and, at times, pretentious.

Low-scorers on the Conceptual dimension are likely to:

  • Focus on the execution and near-term issues - at the expense of the long-term view.
  • Have little curiosity about theoretical and abstract issues.   

The Role of the Conceptual Personality Dimension in the Workplace

By understanding the extent to which a person is comfortable working with imprecise ideas and plans, we can understand how they may approach problems and work with others.

Thinking Systemically

High scorers on this dimension will prefer to think conceptually and strategically - much more than concretely and tactically. As such, they may find it much easier than their peers to anticipate the cross-functional, systemic impact of decisions and actions on their organization and in the long term.

Fostering Innovation

Individuals with high Conceptual scores are much more inquisitive and imaginative than others. This suggests that they will seek new ideas and trends, support experimentation at work and focus on creativity and innovation.

Developing Oneself

Because individuals with high Conceptual scores are constantly seeking intellectual stimulation and actively trying to understand meanings and connections between issues and topics, they are much more likely than others to be lifelong learners. They will continue to develop themselves across the entirety of their careers.

Generating Visionary Perspective

Those who score high on the Conceptual dimension are imaginative, creative, and strategic thinkers who can anticipate future issues and set future directions. As a result, they are more likely to set a forward-looking vision for the team and align both short- and long-term goals to that vision.

Compensating for an Individual’s Score on the Conceptual Dimension

We have looked at how being at ease with a Conceptual approach is conveyed in behavior at work, and how there are both positives and negatives to this trait. However, can a person’s other behavioral characteristics shape how it is manifested at work?

When Conceptual scores are low, we need to look at other scales. These include:

  • Higher Flexibility and Mastery can help mitigate low curiosity and a lack of desire for intellectual stimulation.

When an individual has a high score on the Conceptual dimension, you can look elsewhere in the profile for:

  • Higher Structure which can help bring high scorers 'down from the clouds' and ensure their ideas are more concrete and actionable. 

For more about assessing the degree of ease with conceptual thinking and planning of your candidates and employees may possess, take a look at our personality questionnaire ADEPT-15®

Read our guide, Reshape and Optimize Your Workforce, to learn how personality assessments are a key component that all talent leaders must consider when hiring and developing talent. 

About ADEPT-15®

ADEPT-15® is the most advanced, secure, and award-winning* personality test available. With over 50 years of personality, leadership, and psychometric research combined with an adaptive approach to assessment design, ADEPT-15® measures 15 personality traits critical to successful workplace performance. It looks at our preferences, work styles, and tendencies, as well as what gives us energy and our possible blind spots. The test indicates our strengths and areas for development, as well as the leadership style we may use, and how others may see us.


*M. Scott Myers Award for Applied Research & International Personnel Assessment Council Innovations in Assessment Award


About the Author

Aon creates smart measurement solutions with valid and innovative online assessment products. Aon is globally the preferred partner for organisations who demand the best.

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