Letters to my child. Leadership, Business and Kaizen.

Divergent and Psychometric Profiling

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth

My little sister Katie gave me Divergent for Christmas. I finished reading yesterday. I really liked and with the movie coming out this weekend I am sure it will be a big hit.

It was interesting to read an interview with the author, included at the end. One of Veronica Roth’s favourite books is Ender’s Game… My favourite book! I was really surprised because it really does not show in the novel.

Before I proceed to touch on Psychometric Profiling… let me go on a quick rant.

Here is a quick summary of the plot in Ender’s Game, put forward by the author:

“A young kid growing up in an oppressive family situation suddenly learns that he is one of a special class of children with special abilities, who are to be educated in a remote training facility where student life is dominated by an intense game played by teams flying in midair, at which this kid turns out to be exceptionally talented and a natural leader. He trains other kids in unauthorised extra sessions, which enrages his enemies, who attack him with the intention of killing him; but he is protected by his loyal, brilliant friends and gains strength from the love of some of his family members. He is given special guidance by an older man of legendary accomplishments who previously kept the enemy at bay. He goes on to become the crucial figure in a struggle against an unseen enemy who threatens the whole world.”

Prepare to have your mind blown…

Read the plot summary above thinking about another book, Harry Potter. = )

Don’t get me wrong. I really like Harry Potter. I read the first book before it was cool and to me the series really transformed a generation. By the time book seven came out, kids were lining up at the bookstore to buy the last book. I took a vacation day at work to read it.

As far as I know Rowling never acknowledged Ender’s Game… so I was really happy to see Roth mention it in an interview. Perhaps it will lead her legion of fans to check it out.

Before I go on, let me post an incriminating photograph from my bookshelf:

Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Saga

Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga

Yes. I read Twilight. To me it was interesting because Stephanie Meyer chose to write in first person. For obvious reason that puts a lot of restraints in the plot when compared to a novel written in third. I think Stephen King put it best when talking about Twilight:

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 8.13.05 PM


Divergent is also written in first person. Unlike Bella in Twilight, the central character in Divergent makes important intelligent decisions and shows qualities you would want to see in your child. Tris (short for Beatrice) is smart, selfless and brave.

The Five Factions

The Five Factions

Just like in Hunger Games, Divergent is set in a dystopian society.

The interesting point is that everything starts off messed up in Hunger Games… right from the start we know it is a society with a messed up contest where kids kill each other every year for food. On the other hand, Divergent starts in a society that seems or reads like a utopia.

*NO SPOILERS and some Psychometric talk, finally*

In Divergent, every kid takes a test when they turn 16. They are put against a scenario and make choices that will determine their tendencies as one of five. Here is a simplified version:

Divergent Faction Quizz

Divergent Faction Quizz

After the assessment they are divided into one of five factions. Everyone is grouped with like minded individuals, living and working together. The utopian concept in this is simple: the selfless faction (Abnegation) is in government, the intelligent faction (Erudite) in research and the brave (Dauntless) are in charge of protecting the city.

Think of it in terms of the MBTI assessment. Airlines are more inclined to hire ESFJs as flight attendants because years of research show that it is the best personality type for the job.

I studied Psychometric Profiling and during class discussions on the validity of the assessments, I often felt like raising my hand and launching on a philosophical counter argument:

Whether or not we are alone in the universe… the undeniable truth is that life is rare and precious. For all our flaws, human beings have accomplished so much in so little time… perhaps the thought that we are bound by nothing is what keeps us growing and innovating.

Maybe an assessment that confines us to a four letter code is accurate. Maybe Jung was right and those are inborn and never change… but that is a sad reality.

I have used the MBTI at work and one of my childhood friends is coaching me on more detailed assessments but I am still on the fence.

Even if we were to come up with the ideal profile to use in team formation… would I use it? I often approach my top performers to praise them, but once I found myself saying, “As great as you are, I couldn’t manage ten of you. We need diversity to move forward. A great team can get closer to perfection than any single person ever could.”

When Steve Jobs came back to Apple he launched the Think Different campaign.

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Think about that in terms of the “divergent” result when you watch the movie this weekend.

Yes... that is Mr. Pamuk from Downton Abbey!!

Yes… that is Mr. Pamuk from Downton Abbey!!




PS. Just watched the movie. I can’t say more without spoilers, but final sequence is better than the book. : )

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Categorised in: Book Review, Movie, Sports and Leadership

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