Psycuity: Using Psychometric Measurement To Build Teams

As web workers are generally spread across countries, timezones, cultures and organizations, creating and applying coherent management to distributed teams is challenging.
Late last year, Celine shared some tips on avoiding conflicts within a teleworking team. Around the same time I came across UK-based “business psychology” consultants, Psycuity, a company that asserts that it can help design better teams through understanding the underlying psychology of individual team members. Could this type of understanding be useful in figuring out how distributed web workers could work together more effectively?
Using psychometric testing and a long pedigree in psychology, Psycuity has codified a lot of the personality types, compatibilities and behaviors we might ordinarily find difficult to measure. Using these measurements, we can make helping more informed decisions about our teams.
After completing a short online questionnaire — it took about 20 minutes — I was called by one of Psycuity’s cofounders, Ian Hudson, who talked me through my test results. Ian had no prior knowledge or understanding of my work or personality, but spent half an hour or so breaking down his analysis of my interpersonal style, thinking style, coping strategies, leadership qualities, influencing styles and where in teams I would best fit. Frankly, I was astonished at Ian’s insights, which he later provided to me as a printed report. They accurately reflected probably around 90-95 percent of my self-image.
Psychometric testing is by no means a new tool for those managing and recruiting personnel, but the Psycuity guys have managed to package and streamline the experience to require minimal input from the test subject, while still providing a rich and very detailed analysis of their capabilities and qualities.
Circling back to Celine’s original thoughts on avoiding conflicts within teams, I wonder if it’s possible to use a company such as Psycuity to predict how well a group of untethered workers will work together. There are some interesting questions to consider:

  • Could Psycuity-style tests help prepare guidelines on how best to coalesce a diverse group of people into an effective team?
  • How would this type of screening be applicable to assess the “fitness” of a coworking community?
  • Can it only really work for people that work together in the same organization — or  would it also be useful for a group of collaborating freelancers.

Individually, I found a great deal of insight into my own behavior, but I’m curious to hear what others think. Can business psychology be used to enhance team spirit between disconnected, untethered, web workers?
Do leave your thoughts in the comments below — I’d love to hear everyone’s views on this.

What’s Your Favorite Web App, Wagner James Au?

Wagner James Au, aka Hamlet Au in Second Life, is author of “The Making of Second Life”, a GigaOM contributor and founder of New World Notes. For three years, starting in 2000, Au was hired by Second Life creators Linden Labs as an “embedded journalist” to cover the world’s emerging society.
Here he talks about why he uses and Plurk.

What’s Your Favorite Web App, Wagner James Au? from WebWorkerDaily on Vimeo.
For updates from WebWorkerDaily, follow us @webworkerdaily on Twitter.

Go2Web20 Gets Update, Now Even More Useful/Distracting

go2web20logo1Perhaps there have been times when you knew you wanted to find a specific web app, but you weren’t exactly sure what it was you were looking for. You could try a Google search, but those aren’t exactly targeted. That’s where Go2Web20 comes in handy. It’s a directory of pretty much every major Web 2.0 application you can think of, and a lot of other ones besides, arranged in an easy-to-browse format that’s indexed, searchable and tagged for simple navigation.
Go2Web20 recently got a major overhaul, which increases its usefulness immensely. It also adds considerably to the number of things that have the potential to distract me on any given day. That said, the productive potential of Go2Web20 is also significantly improved.
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Dealing With Distractions

As I sit here working on blog posts, I can hear my next door neighbor carry on loudly through the wall of my office. He seems to be alternating between mowing the lawn, making very loud whooping noises, and fixing his car. Needless to say, it can be pretty distracting.
Kids are a distraction for many of my friends, and while I’ve avoided that particular distraction, I have plenty of my own. Loud neighbors, a significant other who is also a web worker, household chores, Twitter and many other things pull me out of the zone and into a distracted state.
I have a few ways of dealing with distractions and the reduced productivity that come with them.

What’s Your Favorite Web App, Dave Mathews?

No, it’s not that Dave Matthews. It’s the other one — aka Gadget Guy — the tech innovator and digital media and deice expert who consults with companies from well-known corporations such as RadioShack to up-and-comers PeopleBrowsr to boxee.
Mathews is another big fan of Google Docs. Here’s how he uses it.

What’s Your Favorite Web App, Dave Mathews? from WebWorkerDaily on Vimeo.
Look for upcoming video sound bites from SXSW by following us on Twitter at @webworkerdaily.

Dealing with Taxes on Your Own

Not understanding bookkeeping, taxes and other administrative tasks can be very off-putting for people looking to start their own businesses. But in reality, they’re not that hard to do if you’re organized and get a little professional help.

Now, I’m not a CPA and the closest I’ve come to taking accounting is being a professor’s assistant in an online graduate program course. However, I must do something right as I’ve been on my own for over four years and my business tax payments remain on target. So here I’m going to share what I do, as it might work for you or give you ideas on how you can keep on top of your business finances.

Change the Web Challenge: A Contest to Create Apps That Promote Social Change

change-the-web-challenge-logo-sm1If you’re a web developer looking to work on something worthy and potentially bag a cash prize in the process, check out Social Actions’ Change The Web Challenge.

Social Actions has created an open database of over 60,000 actions from more than 40 sites — including GlobalGiving,,,, and VolunteerMatch.  Now it’s looking to get those actions out there on the web sites, blogs and social networks we visit every day, and that’s where you come in.

The Challenge is to create web applications and widgets that draw on Social Actions’ database and help people connect to actions on blogs, web sites and social networks — you can see some examples on the Social Actions site.  Apps and widgets entered to the contest will be voted on by the public, with 20 finalists being judged by an expert panel. Winners will share $10,000 in prize money. Submissions close April 3rd, so get your skates on!

5 Most Popular Posts on WebWorkerDaily This Week

Just in case you missed any of them, here are the five most popular posts on WebWorkerDaily this week:

New web worker? Aliza gives you the lowdown on the apps you need.

This post is a perennial WWD favorite. Anne lists 10 ways you can make money from the web.

In this post, Dawn gives you some great tips on how to get more out of your RSS feeds, while spending less time reading them.

I share five workspaces that I’ll be using for inspiration when building my own home office.

Thinking of using a netbook? Sam outlines four key things to consider before deciding on your purchase.

Zoho Writer 2.0: A User Interface That’s More User Friendly

writerlogoThere is very little reason to depend on a hard drive-based application for your word processing needs these days. Google Docs provides everything most users will ever need; you already have it if you have a Gmail account, and it works offline, thanks to Google Gears. Another solution, Zoho Writer, which also works offline thanks to Gears, just got a major interface overhaul in its 2.0 incarnation, and now is more poised than ever to provide a complete alternative to Office and other similar programs.

The problem with Zoho, until now, has been one of constant improvement. That may not seem like a problem at all, but when that improvement involves adding more and more features, but keeping the interface the same, it can get a little unruly. The new redesign tries to make sure Zoho doesn’t overwhelm you visually, which in turn makes it easier to work with.


The old Zoho Writer menu

While some liked the old UI, I found it too cluttered, because I normally like to edit in full screen, and like as little chrome as possible in my browsers. The changes to the top menu give you a bit more room, but more importantly, they group and hide a lot of commands so you aren’t left feeling crowded. The new “MenuTab” feature groups similar commands under general headings. You can access these commands either by clicking the tab, which changes the button set available on your toolbar (much like Microsoft’s “Ribbon” UI for Office) or by clicking the little arrow next to them, which opens a drop-down menu without changing your toolbar.

The new Zoho Writer 2.0 "MenuTab" interface

The new Zoho Writer 2.0 "MenuTab" interface

It makes sense, and it suits multiple tastes. You’ll be comfortable if you’re used to working with Office, or if you’re used to working with drop-down menus like you’ll find in a lot of web apps. Zoho plans to use MenuTab in all of its other applications in the future, too, so even if you don’t like it, plan on getting used to it!

I won’t go into detail about Zoho Writer, since we’ve covered it before. It’s not new, but I still love Zoho’s tabbed management of open documents. I much prefer it to Google’s opening of new browser tabs for each document, although that makes much more sense when you take into account Google Chrome’s handling of each tab as a separate process. And I still miss Google’s full-screen edit mode too much to make a permanent switch.

Still, if you’re a Zoho user, or if you tried it out before but didn’t like it because of the interface, Zoho Writer 2.0 gives you ample reason to take it out for a second spin.

Do you use Zoho Writer? What do you think of the new UI?