A User's Guide to the
RGB Interpretation Guide
A high score in the Red category indicates that this individual
will be comfortable with changes that result in more precision and a clearer definition
of operating framework. Reds highly value accuracy and attention to detail. They
tend to work efficiently, being task oriented - feeling more productive when they
are "doing" rather than when they are "planning" to do.
Individuals with a strong Green score will favor change that
provides flexibility within a given structure. Greens prefer incremental change rather
than dramatic shifts. Unlike those with a Blue dominance who are comfortable moving
ahead with only the outcome clear, Green-dominant people want to know how the outcome
will be reached before launching a change effort. Planning and developing strategies
provide a framework that makes change initiatives more attractive to Greens.
A Blue dominance indicates a high comfort level with change. A
Blue will look for new and different ways to do things, and prefers an approach to
change that provides for flexibility within a broad field of options. Blues are comfortable
dealing with ambiguity. They tend to like little or no direction - broad concepts,
such as outcomes, vision, and values. provide adequate direction for those with a
dominant Blue profile.
RGB LEVEL (Within 3 points)
Although a level RGB Profile seems desirable
and has adaptive qualities, an Achlles Heal is associated with this Profile. We often
find that a level Profile means that an individual will adapt quickly and easily
to the individual dominance of those in whose company the RGB-Level is at the moment.
People observing this adaptability may wonder why the individual has such high rapport
with two people who may have polar opposite scores. The result is often confusion,
and occasionally misunderstandings among polar relationships.
RGB Long Interpretation Guide
This document will aid in your understanding and use of the colorful graphic
created when you completed the RGB Inventory. (You may have already had some guidance
and made some discoveries with ODI consultants; this guide may serve as a reminder
or even extend your learning.) Before we look at color schemes, however, let's take
a minute for a bit of general orientation.
The Profile shows its strengths not so much in stimulating insight in one person.
The real gains lie in lighting up the space between two or more people, the space
where they interact when working together to achieve successes (and avoid failures)
in organizational relationships.
People are usually hired for their individual abilities, but they're often fired
because of their inability to work effectively with others.
The RGB enhances awareness of the impact on our working relationships of our
natural inclinations or working styles. Depending upon important differences in their
response styles, people will vary in areas including:
Planning time frames
Being with people
We can use these action and reaction categories to compare and contrast tendencies
or response patterns. (We use the arbitrary designations, Red, Green, and Blue, to
avoid implications of superiority or hierarchy. One pattern is not superior to or
more desirable than another.) We are demonstrating how Reds, Greens, and Blues differ
in their approaches to these fundamental organizational challenges.
In most cases, each of us prefers one of the three patterns outlined below. Dominance
in one does not exclude capabilities in the others, however. And it's a good thing!
We believe people in high performance groups, teams and organizations draw upon the
pluses and effectively manage the minuses in all three patterns.
Integrated employment of all three patterns is essential for high performance
at all levels. Deliberately choosing pattern compositions to match particular challenges
enhances effectiveness. Being aware of under-represented or over-represented tendencies
means a group or team can draw upon the “less natural” but vitally important secondary
or even tertiary capabilities of its members when necessary. Even in a sea of Blue-Green,
you may have enough Red among you to satisfy task requirements!
A little cautionary note!
When we describe the Red, Green or Blue tendencies or patterns of response, we
do not mean to imply that such things are genetic, given in your natural temperament.
The particular pattern dominant in your profile may be due to “natural” inclination.
And maybe not. You may respond due to the way you and others have defined your organizational
role over time. Or your response pattern may be determined by the culture of your
organization. Your natural inclinations, even what you do best naturally, may not
fit into what is defined as acceptable belief and behavior (culture) in your organization.
So, you may look at your profile graphic and believe it just doesn't capture the
Examining the tension you might feel in yourself created by the difference between
what you think versus what the profile says can be a powerful stimulus to personal
growth and increased effectiveness -- especially if you examine the differences in
the context of your organizational relationships. Ask your mates for their ideas
on the subject!
With this little bit of general orientation in mind, then, let's get acquainted
with the different patterns. See if the descriptions on the following pages enable
you to validate the dominant, second-level and third-level patterns in your personal
Situational structure . . .
Reds prefer highly structured situations. High levels of clarity are essential,
and frustrations will emerge when conditions are ambiguous.
When situations are either unstructured or unclear (or, God forbid, both), Reds
will work hard to get things organized and tidy.
Though perhaps more tolerant of unclear and ambiguous situations, Greens
will try to clarify them so as to determine the most appropriate responses.
Greens are often great at seeking and obtaining clarity in the midst of
Structure is not only less important to a Blue, he or she would probably
regard it as confining.
Too much structure would bother Blues, because it would constrain the emergence
of possibilities, spontaneity or serendipity.
Making decisions . . .
Reds will decide quickly and select the most efficient alternative based
upon previous experience.
They tend to avoid discussions comparing alternatives and prefer a fast decision
to a broad and comprehensive one.
As long as someone else's decision can be explained logically, a Red would
prefer to execute it and avoid being involved in laborious decision formulation.
Either slow or fast decision making suits Greens. It depends on the situation
(a theme you'll hear often among Greens!).
They seem easily swayed from one position to another, because they can see the
good points of both ends of the spectrum.
In fact, Greens see clearly the available alternatives and may be accused
of being wishy-washy, often changing their minds before full implementation.
Because they want to get the decision they favor implemented, Blues seem
to be slower in making decisions. Actually, they may reach a decision quickly but
take a lot of time to ensure implementation support.
During that time, they are building relationships and support for the cause.
Rather than having alternatives they try one at a time, Blues would try them
all at once to see which emerged a winner!
Change strategies . . .
Reds tend to resist change, especially when change means “new” processes
or procedures. The greater the clarity and precision and the less ambiguity in “new”
situations, however, the more likely change will be welcomed as “improvement.”
Change often means “having to figure things out,” a pursuit Reds find
frustrating. They would far rather implement a clear plan.
find change good if it is adopted slowly and in ”reasonable” increments.
Planned carefully and launched with high probability (read that certainty!) of
success, change is great.
Planning for change is an ideal activity for Greens because they see the
present and the distant future with equal clarity.
Blues are eager to change and will rarely do the same thing twice the
same way. They will fix what “ain't broke” because change is regarded as good.
Greater ambiguity is preferred to a tightly specified way of doing things.
In fact, when processes are clear and well structured, Blues may introduce
reasonable possibilities supporting a need for change.
Planning time frames . . .
Planning in shorter time frames is preferable for Reds. Planning for a
month or a six-month period is ideal.
Plans ranging over years may frustrate them because they prefer a short-term
Reds will be best at implementing the full range of details in the immediate
task, however. Reds rarely miss a close-in deadline.
Intermediate time frames, between six months and a year or so, are fine for
A combination of short and long range is ideal, depending on the conditions.
And, since Greens are people-persons and catalysts, they will try to help
others develop and implement their plans rather than creating plans of their own.
Long range thinking is normal for Blues. From a year or two to the end
of the next decade are reasonable planning periods.
The joy of imagining all the possibilities makes plans more difficult to implement,
but lots of great ideas are generated.
If a Blue does not meet immediate deadlines easily, completing long term
projects on target will be a snap.
Being with people . . .
Reds are good followers when they know where the leader is going. And
in clear situations, Reds will often take the lead or even lead the charge!
If they must be in groups at all, Reds prefer small ones. One-on-one is
better most of the time.
Reds often avoid meetings because they progress too slowly and leave work
piling up back at the work station.
Greens like to be around people, one-on-one, small groups, crowds, you
name it. Great networkers, they really work the room.
They like to be sure everyone is included in the conversation. Greens
learn about people and try to improve their relationships with others.
They tell stories, jokes and love playing games that get everyone “involved.”
Blues tend to become “natural leaders” in the midst of chaos. They often
lack a fear of the unknown and forge ahead when caution might be the wiser tack.
Their boldness in the face of uncertainty will attract followers, however, and
the more the merrier!
Groups are preferred over one-on-one situations, and Blues thrive on lots
of meetings and hectic schedules.
Preferred activities . . .
Reds often find supporting activities and roles ideal. They often feel
unappreciated for the roles they play and the contributions they make supporting
the efforts of others, however.
Reds' preference for precision and structure makes numeric calculations
or check list completion veritable fun.
Rely on Reds to get things done, help them with construction of a checklist
to “make it happen” and then get out of the way. Once Reds understand the
task, it will be managed with uncanny thoroughness.
Creating progress charts
is an ideal activity. Greens are eager to make sure people can “see” where
they are in a process or program.
Because of the people connections created, Greens love to correspond or
chat, to get and pass information between people who might otherwise never speak
to each other.
Any activity that makes connections will be a preference for a true Green.
They bridge the gaps and bring together vital ingredients in Reds and Blues
who might not link up if left on their own.
Any activity that is innovative or creative provides an ideal outlet for Blues.
Since they like reinventing (even in cases where things are working well), any activity
that leads to change will be welcomed.
Figuring things out (processes, policies, procedures) forms an ideal challenge.
But don't expect a Blue to be around for implementation.
A true Blue is satisfied with invention; application is typically less
a challenge. In fact, by the time implementation phases roll around, Blues
are probably enmeshed in a new project.
These brief descriptions should help you recognize yourself and each other in
the context of the RGB framework. (A later section of this guide will highlight some
interactions among Reds, Greens and Blues worth watching out
for.) Important right now, however, is a closer look at the settings in which these
patterns take shape.
Context and contradictions . . .
Organizations in changing environments struggle to satisfy and balance contradictory
needs. Stable and predictable processes and programs are desirable because their
costs are easier to control and their efficiencies increase with time for continuous
improvement. But, especially in turbulent environments where customer demands and
other conditions change fast, flexible and innovative responses are also desirable,
even essential. Flexible and innovative versus stable and predictable.
In fact, the not-so-famous critter from Dr. Dolittle's voyages, the Pushmi-Pullyu,
should be the universal mascot for organizations. This Llama-like beast with a head
on both ends struggled to respond to competing cues and stimuli -- a situation favoring
paralysis in his case. In organizations, legitimate, yet contradictory needs compete
for attention and resources. We have a paradox.
If you think about matching and mismatching Reds, Greens and Blues with these
paradoxical challenges, things can get pretty interesting, yes? Oh, what tangled
webs we weave! Do not despair, however, as there is a way out. An organizational
culture aligned with the paradoxical and changing needs of living systems will prevail.
If the organization's culture supports the inclinations of Reds, Greens and Blues
to find their ways to roles in which they are well suited, things work. Where there
is a good fit between people and challenges, the organization has moved a long way
toward effectiveness. There may be a pot of gold in this color scheme. On the other
Colors can clash...
Two Blues might compete for the right to spell out the guiding plan or vision.
A Red might try to draw a Blue out of the sky and onto the ground, and vice versa.
Depending upon which one is the supervisor, a process could be stuck in the mud or
up in the air. Two Greens might argue over strategy and miss a chance to do something
with a great idea. Of course, the clash will probably be moderated by strong needs
to tend to the relationship. Reds may argue over which details are important and
which procedure more efficient. Greens and Blues work well in most cases, but they
can overlook critical details a Red would spot in a New York second. In fact, when
Red and Blue don't compete, their collaboration can leave all the bases covered.
One could speculate on the match-mismatch theme for hours. We don't recommend
it. Instead, find out where you and your colleagues are in the RGB scheme, and then
see if this insight will lead the way to new tolerance and understanding and, finally,
to new levels of productivity and satisfaction in working together!
Extracted from Leadership & Management
in the New Culture
Copyright 1996 Leadagement Technologies
Inc. All rights reserved.