The economy has been a bit rough. Housing particularly has been weak. So demand for the services of interior designers is chilled.

Four independent and previously successful (during good times) interior designers decided to office together to save expenses and try to ride out the depressed economy. Each is an award winning designer albeit in different aspects of design. One is exterior landscaping. Another is structural (an architect). Another is furniture and the last color and fabrics. Prior to getting together to get out of the storm, each had done work only in the one specialty.

Shortly after getting together, they had the opportunity to bid on a job that included all of their specialties, something they had never done before. Because they were all individually award winning designers, they put together a spectacular presentation. They won the bid. The biggest job any of them had ever worked on. The project was for a very visible shelter for abused women being built with donor funds (rich people) by a very sizable foundation.

They designed and acted as general contractors for the project which won several awards and was very visible in the design community. They really struggled to get the project done since this was the first time any of them had worked on an all in project.

The foundation awarded them a second project for a retreat center for PTSD sufferers. Again, a very visible project. It won several awards.

Although they had no intention of becoming a collective firm, they were forced to. They created a design company and dolled out the roles that had to be done. Ted, the architect, the senior person in to group took the role of CEO/COO. His name was the best known and they thought that with him fronting the firm, more business would be generated. The landscaper, Ron, took the role of customer management and project coordinator. Susan, the furniture expert took the role of administrator, office manger and human resource person (they were hiring lots of people). Claire, the color and fabric designer took the role of business development and managed the assembly of bids and managed the presentations. They all continued to be individual contributors on all of the projects in addition to their new “corporate” roles.

The business rolled in. They were awash with business. They were named one of the 10 up and coming new companies in the city.

While celebrating their new success at their once a month Saturday morning meeting, they reviewed the good, the bad and the ugly. Business was coming in under the door. They had lots of work to do, even in a bad economy. They were all dreadfully unhappy.

They invited a consultant in to tell their story and share their misery. The consultant assumed that the issue was one of team management. After listening to the story, she suggested using TEAMOSITY™ to get some insights. They collectively entered their personal types into the app.


Ted, CEO/COO, Architect ENTP
Ron, Customer Relations and Project Management, Landscaper, INTJ
Susan, Administrator, Office Manager and Human Resources, Furniture, ENTJ
Claire, Business Development and Bid Management, Color and Fabrics, ESFP


TEAMOSITY™ estimated that the collective team type to be ENTP. That made sense. They designed innovative significant things but were having problems with the details of getting things done. The Type Circle showed that they had a nice spread across all of the dimensions with the exception of F. The Dysfunction/Accommodation Analysis showed three troublesome relationships with the small team. Ted and Claire. Ron and Claire. Claire and Susan. Since Claire was part of each troublesome pair, Claire’s F was probably one of the core causes. Also, Claire is the only S on the team. She was the most concerned with the details. Ted and Susan had the best relationship although Susan wanted Ted to move faster and be more decisive.

The Typical Roles chart showed:

  • Ted CEO/COO – Improviser, Inventor, Explorer
  • Ron Customer Relations and Project Manager – Strategizer, Innovator, Conceptualizer
  • Susan Administrator, Office Manager and HR – Leader, Director and Field Marshall
  • Claire, Business Development and Bid Manager – Entertainer, Motivator

Looking at them one at a time, Ted’s role was to run things and make decisions. But he was a designer and big picture thinker. He hated details and particularly bookkeeping and accounting. He hated “managing”.

Ron was good and happy in half his role — project manager. He was miserable in the other — customer relations. Originally he had thought that customer relations was about giving the customer information, schedules and plans. It turned out to be more about hand holding and picky complaints.

Susan liked being the firms Administrator and Office Manager but didn’t like the role of HR. They were hiring a lot of people but she was not liked. She was cold and in such a small shop, harmony was valued. Everyone had more to do than they could possibly get to and they needed to feel appreciated.

Claire liked the people interaction part of business development but found that the sale was really about take your breath away concepts and design more than relationships. She liked bid management better and was able to get ad hoc teams together depending upon the content of the project to get the bids done and manage the details. She was good at presenting the bids although the concepts and the designs came from others.

There was a general conclusion that each person was doing part of a role that was not natural to their type.

  • The team decided to try to better align roles and type preferences.
  • Ted took the role of CEO and Chief Design Architect. Being the most acclaimed and awarded member of the team, it was important that he fronted the firm.
  • Susan took the roles of COO, Administrator and Office Manager. She ran the meetings and facilitated decision making in the group.
  • Ron kept Project Management and took over Bid Management as well. He also joined with Claire on Business Development from the creative side.
  • Claire took HR and Customer Relations and continued with the people part of Business Development.
  • They also decided to bring in a fifth senior partner because of all of the business. They checked with TEAMOSITY™ and asked for more Planning, Speed and Output and more Collaboration. The App suggested an ESTJ. They didn’t need anymore N and needed more J. From a content standpoint, they needed a General Contractor. They had enough design skills. They thought through everyone they knew and a single name came up. There was a senior architect who was not good enough at design but was a great project manager. He had just left a major firm and knew three of the four partners. Brandon join the firm and took the role of General Contractor. He would work with Ron to get the work done.
  • They continue to grow and are now more satisfied and happier in the roles they fill. The next partner they are thinking about adding would be in marketing and sales promotion and the App has suggested either an ENTP or and INTJ. Claire is managing a search.
  • They continue to win design awards and have been featured for the first time in nationwide business publications. A whole new set of problems!
  • They all continue to use TEAMOSITY™ to make internal relationships operate the best they can. Turnover has decreased as Claire has taken over HR. Decisions are being made faster under Susan.