We’ll take a break from our POOGI series for this interesting 6 part interview of Tom Foster.

I had a chance to interview Tom Foster. Tom is a consultant and TEC Chair in Florida. Brad heard Tom speak, checked out his blog and then I ended up speaking to his group. During our trip to Florida we had dinner with Tom and discussed a number of interesting topics. Here are some questions we asked Tom and his answers.

Dr Lisa: Tom, as you know, we do results based consulting. We only get paid if our clients increase their profits. So it is very important for our clients and for us to have the right people on the bus. Many times we come into a company to find that the right people are no where near the bus.

You have found that “time span of discretion” is a better indicator than the various personality tests of how successful a person will be in a job. Please explain more about that.

Tom: Each of us has an innate ability to deal with various levels of complexity in our world. This is a finding by Elliott Jaques in his research on how organizations get work done. This innate ability to deal with complexity is measured in terms of “Time Span.” While many companies employ various instruments (psychometric testing) to determine what Elliott describes as “temperament,” the correlation of any given temperament to success in the position is hardly more than random.

The real key to determine whether a person has the capability to be successful, in a given role, lies in matching the Time Span of the role with the Time Span of the person.

To do this requires some understanding of Time Span and how to measure it. For now, I will leave you with the definition:

Time Span is the length of time that a person can work into the future, without direction, using their own discretionary judgment.


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