What's Your MO? Measuring Instinct and Method of Operation (MO) With the Kolbe A Index

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’m a real sucker for any sort of self-discovery/personal development/self-help type of assessment. And so...enter the Kolbe A Index -- an instrument designed to help us grow by teaching us:

  1. How to focus on our strengths, and
  2. How we do things when we are free to do them our own way and when we are able to do what we do best.
Kolbe A Assessment Review

The Kolbe A Index is not a personality test, but a test of CONATIVE ABILITY -- or our natural tendencies and ways of relating to the world, aka “striving instincts.”

Conation is action derived from instinct; purposeful mode of striving, volition. It is a conscious effort to carry out self-determined acts. The Latin 'conatus', from which conation is derived, is defined as "any natural tendency, impulse, or directed effort."

The purpose of the Kolbe A Index is to help us focus on the things we ALREADY DO WELL and leverage this information to rid stress from our lives, help our relationships, and change the way we interact in the workplace.  

The investigation of striving instincts has been limited and for the most part, forgotten in most psychological research. The research that mentions conation is typically based in marketing (cf., Balasubramanian, Karrh, & Patwardhan, 2006) and is related to purchasing decisions and influences of advertising. There have been calls for more investigation into human instinct and Bagozzi (1992) suggested that understanding conative states is necessary to fully understand a person’s motivation to act.

Kolbe scores on four modes, Fact Finder, Follow ThrOUGH, Quickstart and Implementor.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at my results with a description of what to expect for each of the four modes.

Fact Finder

  • Fact Finder describes our natural way of gathering and sharing information.
  • There are three “categories,” or ways people best gather and share information -- simplify, explain or strategize.
Kolbe A Index Review
Kolbe A Index Review
Kolbe A Index Review

My “best” way of gathering and sharing information is to STRATEGIZE -- which explains my tendency to research EVERYTHING, provide historical evidence (*history nerd*), create analogies (*my students love this...LOL*) and create complex strategies (*sometimes unnecessarily complex...but we’re working on that…). I also found it interesting that the Kolbe recommended that I refrain from generalizing and making snap judgements -- which is something I’ve really been working on the last year or so...balancing out my “intuition” by leading with my “rational” mind. I’m currently working with a coach to really refine this area and improve my WILL to COMMIT and SUSTAIN (to be continued at a future time…)


  • Follow-Through describes our natural way of organizing the world around us.
  • There are three “categories,” or ways people best organize -- adapting to what currently is (adapt), bridging the gap between what is and what could be (maintain), or designing a system from scratch (systematize).
Kolbe A Index Review
Kolbe A Index Review
Kolbe A Index Review

My “best” way of organizing is to MAINTAIN -- or in other words, I have a really critical eye for what can be changed in the current system and adjust procedures to make it stronger and am the bridge for interpreting complex procedures to other people. This completely makes sense and explains why I’m a huge fan of the phrase, “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It also explains my tendency as a math teacher (or piano teacher) to break everything down into 3-5 really simple and straightforward steps that can be adapted and applied to various scenarios.

Quick Start

  • Quick Start describes our natural way of dealing with risks and unknowns in our life.
  • There are three “categories,” or ways people best manage risk. There are stabilizers, or people who stick with what already works well and take as little risk as possible. Modifiers -- people who check things out before trying them and take on a moderate amount of risk, but pull back if they sense “danger.” And Innovators -- individuals who experiment and see what will happen and tend to take risks without consideration for the outcome.
Kolbe A Index Review
Kolbe A Index Review
Kolbe A Index Review

My “best,” or most natural way of dealing with risk is by MODIFYING information and dealing with unknowns by revising decisions. In other words, I tend to have pretty flexible thinking and serve as a bridge between stabilizers, or those who want to stick with what works -- and work well with pulling back the “innovators” from pushing past the danger point during their experimentations.  


  • This is our natural way of dealing with the space between abstract and concrete.
  • There are three “categories,” or ways people manage the abstract and concrete worlds -- envisioning possibilities or the ways things “could be,” restoring or keeping things working as they “should,” in the present moment, and protectors -- people who create tangible solutions given their five senses.
Kolbe A Index Review
Kolbe A Index Review
Kolbe A Index Review

My “best,” or most natural way of operating on the abstract-concrete continuum is to ENVISION -- or to abstractly define results in what things “could be,” and not necessarily what they are. I tend to imagine results and see things “inside my head” at a distance versus interact with “it” a very concrete-5-senses type of way. "Don't take responsibility for maintaining equipment..." I concur (and my husband would too...LOL!)

Like any research-based study, the Kolbe A Index is going to require an investment on your part -- $49.95 to be exact -- which, I’m sure you could make a case to your employer to cover the charge for the sake of “professional development.” Overall, taking the Kolbe A Index confirmed a lot of things I already knew about myself from other assessments while highlighting some pitfalls to watch out for in a new way.

The Kolbe A Index is just one of many assessments provided by the Kolbe Corp. They also provide various assessments for human resource professionals, leadership coaches and business consultants looking to select and maximize talent, build and lead teams, and develop leadership within their organizations. Kolbe Corp also provides assessments to help couples improve their relationships and better understand how to relate to their children.

Click here to learn more about how Kolbe A can help you learn more about your strengths and how to best leverage them at home, at work and with family and friends!

Thanks for stopping by!

Jackie Boylhart | Mozart & Shiplap | Lifestyle Blog