Personalities that make a movement

Who do we need to create a movement?

I am not the type of person who writes about Occupy Wall Street on Facebook. I can’t bring myself to do it.

I’ve been struggling to work out why since the movement kicked off over a month ago; observing, rather perplexed, my own reaction.

I have had to dig deep to think about it. Why not?!

Who cares?

This is a big deal for me because:

  • My work, and life to a quite a large extent, are devoted to The Finance Innovation Lab which asks the difficult question ‘how do we create a financial system that sustains people and planet?’. Clearly this aligns beautifully with the goals of OWS
  • I support their sense of injustice that 99% of the wealth is held by just 1% of the citizens of the United States
  • After 3 years of facilitating our own processes in the Lab, I am fascinated by the participatory techniques they are using
  • I am genuinely moved {almost to tears in fact} by some of the placards I have seen of held by these people.  In fact, I could not articulate any better my view on the failing financial system than the guy here:


So what’s my problem?

To figure this out I went back to a Myers Briggs personality test I took this summer.

Now, I studied Psychology for 5 years. I know these tests have their problems. But I was blown away by the accuracy of this description of my personality as an ENFJ.

It holds a clue I think, to my reaction. It says;

ENFJ’s tend to be more reserved about exposing themselves than other extraverted types. Although they may have strongly-felt beliefs, they’re likely to refrain from expressing them if doing so would interfere with bringing out the best in others. Because their strongest interest lies in being a catalyst of change in other people, they’re likely to interact with others on their own level, in a chameleon-like manner, rather than as individuals.

Which is not to say that the ENFJ does not have opinions. ENFJs have definite values and opinions which they’re able to express clearly and succinctly. These beliefs will be expressed as long as they’re not too personal. ENFJ is in many ways expressive and open, but is more focused on being responsive and supportive of others. When faced with a conflict between a strongly-held value and serving another person’s need, they are highly likely to value the other person’s needs.

This just about sums it up. I am not built to be an activist.

I have some really good old friends on Facebook who are bankers, corporate lawyers, Indian cousins (who argue ‘why shouldn’t we have our chance at growth?’), I have Tory friends and anti-capitalist friends, friends who are positive change makers and friends who I’ve never expressed a serious opinion too in my life.

I simply can’t bring myself to deliver to them my political views and my values through the medium of social media. To me I would be mortal danger of being moral superior and that just isn’t my gig.

That’s why The Finance Innovation Lab suits me down to the ground. My role, is to be myself. To do what I do best. To bring together people who don’t normally talk to each other and make them feel comfortable enough to answer the difficult questions, at events they have elected to take part in. Myers Briggs tells me I’m perfect for this job and I have to say, I’m inclined to agree.

But if everyone was like me, would we ever actually change anything?

I’m pretty sure the answer to that question is no. So it’s a really good job I’m not the only one who wants to transform the financial system.

What I’m increasingly coming to realize is that it takes all sorts to create a movement and we shouldn’t get too hung up or distracted by what everyone else is doing.

The Lab prides itself on being ‘an open space where people can come together to explore, innovate and evolve the financial system so that it sustains people and planet.’ It is a container, not a think tank. We are not experts and we don’t seek to be them. Our ethos is to work in collaboration, to focus on action and to try and lead without ego or a strong view of the ‘right answer’. It is a process and a structure to which change and the people that hold the different perspectives to make this happen, are invited.

But, it really is a good job that The Finance Innovation Lab is not the only group working in this area. It’s a good job someone in this movement does have an ego, that someone else does have solid knowledge of what went wrong. It’s also great that someone is looking for the solutions, that someone is looking at the values we need for the future and someone else is bringing money into the sector by speaking the language of the existing power-brokers.

We all take our place within an ecology of change within the financial system.  These are some of the ‘types’ I see:

  • The Intellectuals: Fiercely intelligent, used to work in the city, know their CDO’s from their fractional reserve banking, are incensed by Independent review on banking, and know everything there is to know about the history of money. Deeply critical of various technical elements current financial system and will take on anyone who invites them to a panel session. They win the argument for us with clear logic. Check out Tony Greenham, Alice Chapple, Raj Thamotheram, John Fullerton, Michael Green, Karl Richter, Bruce Davis, Sargon Nissan and Richard Spencer


  • The Activists: Grassroots champions who will stand up for the people. The system benefits a vested few and the Activist will be the voice of the unheard.  They are well read, opinionated, not afraid to speak their truth and juggle various projects at the same time. They have been to Occupy London Stock Exchange and are regularly blogging, Tweeting or making poignant statements on Facebook to spread the word. Check out Ben Dyson, Linda Mitchell, Ed Dowding, Ben Metz, Sean Leggasick and Brett Scott.


  • The New Paradigm Connectors: Focused on the possibilities of a new paradigm rather than on the failings of the old, they seed ideas between groups. Super sociable either on or offline (sometimes both), this group are  big connectors. They love the diversity of their contacts, make everyone feel welcome who share their vision and enjoy nothing more than mixing complexity theory with psychology with design thinking with economics. They do this online in secret Facebook groups, on Twitter, through their blogs, or through one-to-one conversations over coffee or drinks. Check out Jen Morgan, Cheryl Hicks, David Hodgson,  Kevin Doyle Jones,  Hendrik Teising, Arthur Brock, Tina Santiago and me!


  • The Wise Ones: Feel the disturbance of humanity in movements that have spread across the world this summer. This is about an awakening of consciousness. Activists in nature, they share stories, poems, videos and pictures of these shifts are they emerge, spotting trends. They create change by sharing their deepest thoughts, remind us of why we chose this career path and keep the movement authentic and inspired. Check out Vanessa Reid, Maria Scordialos, Sarah Whitely, Charlotte Millar, Simone Poutnik and Filiz Telek.


  • The Credible Maveriks:  From the outside, they look like they work for an Investment Bank (probably because they used to).  A closer look reveals they have radical ideas that they have turned these into soild, credible business models, or strategies that have miraculously been approved by the board.  They almost certainly carry a moleskin notebook, they wear sharp suits and/or carry Mulberry handbags. They dislike nothing more than ‘fluffy’ thinking and emotive language (Activists and Wise Ones steer clear). This is about blended return, it works and they can prove it.  Check out Penny Shepherd, Will Oulton, Paul Cheng, Mark Campanarle, Maxime Le Floc’h, Bertrand Beghin and Tamzin Ractliffe.

Of course there’s overlap. I could put most of these people in at least two categories, but I like bullet points so I’m sticking with them.

My conclusion is this. We have an amazing ecology of change makers. These groups each have their place and we need them all. As individuals we simply don’t need to be all things to all people. But, creating a movement for a financial system that sustains people and planet, requires that each of us identify where the person that we are, can be most of service. I’m an unashamed ENFJ.

I’m with this guy. But just don’t expect me to say so on Facebook.


Where do you fit within this ecology? Are you an Activist or a Intellectual? Do you see other groups that I’m missing? Are you in my list and hate where I’ve put you?