Eric Griggs

Apr 21, 2018


The Z-Model for deciding & planning

A useful process for business or personal matters.

I was inspired to write this essay while responding to another article by e-friend Saoirse . Perhaps others will find this concept helpful:

The Z-model represents a useful and common-sense approach to better decision making & planning.

More from Eric Griggs

Juxtaposeur, technical analyst, process engineer, poet wordsmith, INTJ, Anansi, MBTI certified practitioner & team-builder, certifiable fabulist & Uppity Queer™

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z model problem solving

The MBTI Z-Model for Decision Making

11.03.15 | gloria.

Leaders are often called upon to make tough decisions. They’re expected to look at all sides fairly and then determine the best path to put plans into action, leading others through their example and careful consideration. To be successful, leaders need to learn how to make decisions efficiently and effectively while taking into consideration what’s best for their teams and the organization as a whole.


At Success Labs, we use the Z-Model to teach decision making to developing leaders. The Z-Model or Zig-Zag Process™ Model , based on a model created by Isabel Myers and further developed by Gordon Lawrence, uses preferences from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, or MBTI®, to help leaders consider questions, deal with ambiguity and make decisions to move their team or organization forward. Here’s how it works.

The Preferences

MBTI philosophy holds that people have several “preferences” when it comes to how they take in information, analyze it and then act on it. The one most people are familiar with is the “extrovert/introvert” preference: Extroverts tend to make the best decisions by talking about them with other people; introverts would rather go off by themselves and think things over before coming back with a solution.

In the Z-Model, decisions are made by considering both sides of two of the four MBTI preference dichotomies: How people gather information and how they make decisions about the information they have.

The two dichotomies are:

By moving from sensing to intuition to thinking to feeling, the decision-maker follows a Z-shape to ensure all sides are considered.

How Does it Work?

Leaders faced with a tough decision can work through the Z-Model to ensure they’ve considered all sides of the problem.

Here’s how it works:

While developing leaders in particular use the Z-Model to learn how to make big decisions, anyone can use it to consider all sides of a situation and deal with ambiguity. Considering an issue through different preferences can help make the answer clear.

Looking for ways to develop high-potential employees into leaders? Contact us to learn about our leadership development and coaching offerings.

Success Labs is a leadership development and management consulting firm in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more than 25 years, our expert team of consultants has worked with hundreds of companies to explore their business potential and improve their company and cultural performance. Contact us to get proactive about your people strategy.


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Improve your decision-making: use the zig-zag model.

High school and college students are faced with many decisions, ranging from which course to take, to how to spend your summer, to what college to attend. As such, honing your decision making skills is extremely beneficial. According to the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), the world’s leading personality assessment tool, our personalities influence our approach to solving problems and making decisions. By utilizing this powerful tool to understand your natural preferences, you can identify ways to broaden your approach, and make better, more informed decisions.

How Do You Process Information?

The MBTI posits that we are each born with a natural preference for how we process information and for the kind of information that we trust. The two different preferences are:

How Do You Make Decisions?

We also have natural preferences for how we respond to the information we have gathered. The different approaches are:

Heart of Type

These two preference scales – for processing information (either through Sensing or Intuition ), and for making decisions (either through Thinking or Feeling ) – form the “heart of type,” in MBTI theory, also known as the “function pairs.” Each of the four combinations has a distinct approach to life and work that impact decision-making. First, let’s look at the overall approach of each function pair:

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 8.34.00 PM

Now, let’s look at how each function pair approaches decisions:

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 8.41.13 PM

Source: Introduction to Type and Decision Making, by Katherine W. Hirsh and Elizabeth Hirsh, CPP, Inc.

Blind Spots

Our function pairs represent our two preferred mental processing functions, which operate on the conscious level. The non-preferred functions exist at a sub-conscious level, and may result in blind spots. In the example below, the individual has an “ST” heart-of-type, which combines preferences for Sensing as a way to process information and Thinking as a way to make decisions. As a result, this person may not give enough time to the steps of Intuition and Feeling, or may even ignore these considerations.

The Zig-Zag Model for Decision-Making

The Zig-Zag process model posits that the most effective way to solve problems is to utilize all four of the MBTI function preferences of Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling, in the sequence below.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 8.45.05 PM

In order to thoroughly consider each of these four functions, the following steps are suggested:

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 8.46.03 PM

Source: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, 2009, published by CPP, Inc.

The first step in problem solving is to use Sensing to identify the facts, or raw data. But this is not sufficient, as we need to examine the meaning of the data, place it within the context of prior experience, and explore create ways of viewing the problem, by using Intuition . Now we use a Thinking judgment to analyze the consequences of the various options we have generated. Finally, we apply our Feeling judgment to consider the effects of each option, and incorporate the values of people involved.

If, at the end of this process, we are not satisfied with the human consequences of our options, then we start the cycle again with the Sensing function. We may take a fresh look at our data, or even gather additional data; and then proceed through the functions of Intuition , Thinking , and Feeling .

What can you do to improve your decision-making and problem-solving?

The first step is always self-knowledge. You can take an online assessment of the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and work with a Certified Practitioner to verify your innate personality type and preferences. This process will help you become more aware of your strengths and blind spots. As a result, you can try to incorporate less-preferred functions so that your process involves all four steps of Sensing, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling. It’s often helpful to seek input from people who have preferences that are different from yours, in order to expand your repertoire and make sure that you are looking at situations from all angles.

We believe that self-awareness is empowering at every stage of your life’s journey.

At Collegiate Gateway, we understand the stress and anxiety surrounding these new changes in the college process. Explore our upcoming presentations on our website or set up a complimentary consultation to learn about our admissions consulting services. Whatever your question, Collegiate Gateway is happy to help!

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z model problem solving

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