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Life By Design Blog

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Business Book Club: The Test Book

I've set myself a goal to read one self-development book per month. To make sure I really reflect on what I'm reading I'm going to extract the wisdom from the best business and personal development books and share it with you.

This month I’ve been reading The Test Book by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschäppeler

The Book

I’m always on the lookout for books that introduce me to new models and ideas for workshops and coaching sessions so this book caught my eye. It features 64 sample diagnostic tests that help you understand yourself and others. It gives an insight into tests that help you in your career, relationships, business and life in general. For each test you are given a brief explanation of:

  • What the test is about

  • How the test works

  • How it is evaluated

You can then take what is usually a very simplified version of the test.

So what did I learn about myself?

It’s worth noting that each test is just a sample, none of the results below are reliable (but it was fun trying the tests out).

I’m not a smart-ass but I know how to spot one

The familiarity test uses an Over Claiming Questionnaire.

Apparently, your average smart-ass is someone who loves talking at length on subjects they know nothing about. They are probably the kind of people who love pointing out your errors and they are the people most likely to “well-actually” you in conversation.

This test gives you a list of celebrities and asks how familiar you are with them. The twist is that there are some made up ones on there. A smart-ass will claim to have heard of these made up celebrities when in reality, they can’t possibly know who they are.

A bit of this behaviour is fine of course. We all have a desire to meet the expectations of others or to put our best foot forward in group situations. However, if you don’t know something it is really is best to say so

I might not be the best leader

This leadership test is based on the Leadership Judgement Indicator developed by Michael Lock and Robert Wheeler and tests whether you are good at choosing the right leadership style for the situation. You are given a scenario and four options to choose from. Once you’ve chosen your answer you can read some feedback on your choice.

Apparently, I didn’t choose the right one which is a bit of a blow to my ego being a management and leadership trainer. I would argue that the question lacked enough information to give a definitive answer but perhaps I should reflect on my style (or read the question more closely).


The book includes the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator model but if you’ve ever used MBTI you’ll know what an involved diagnostic it is and how hard it is to condense it into 3 pages.

The book describes the test and has a brief table of the types but nothing that will really tell you much if you aren't already familiar with the tool. That said, I am still confident my type is ENTP (extraversion, intuitive, thinking, perceiving).

What do you see?

I’m not crazy (probably)

According to the one-blot Rorschach Test in this book. This is the famous ink blot test popular with psychiatrists in the 1920s.

I saw a butterfly, just like everyone else.

Like a few of the tests in the book, this one has been included not because it’s an accurate tool for self-evaluation, but because of the place it holds in the history of the field of psychology. I have to say it was interesting to read the background and why it has been largely discredited. That said, an updated version is still approved for use in a number of developed countries.

Neither side of my brain is dominant (but that doesn’t matter)

The explanation of this test makes clear that it is not the case that our brain consists of an analytical left side and a creative right side. Generally speaking, the right hemisphere of the brain is responsible for the big picture, context and reading between the lines and the left is more focused on detail and clarity. However, its the overlap between the functions of the two that is important. It is also worth noting that no one test can tell you which side of your brain is dominant.

I took the test which consists of 5 questions. I got a score of 3 for left brain dominance and 2 for right. As far as I can tell, this doesn’t really mean anything. Our two hemispheres give us two different pictures of the world which we combine into one holistic (and more useful) view.

I can pass a lie detector test

Or at least I know how to.

The theory behind this test is that someone who fears being caught lying exhibits some small tell-tale signs such an increased heart rate, sweaty palms and a dry mouth. A thousand years ago in China, suspects were given a grain of rice to put in their mouth during interrogation. If the rice was dry when it was taken out they were considered to be lying.

The modern version of the test measures your heart rate. What makes this controversial is that the stress of a polygraph test causes your heart rate to go up, making the results unreliable. If you want to pass the test either hold your breath or breathe quicker when answering the control questions. If your stress reactions to the control questions are stronger than the relevant ones the test loses its validity.

What else?

  • I’m rich-according a chart that shows how much you need to earn to be in the worlds top 1% (less than you think)

  • I’m not a psychopath

  • I’m human

  • I’m generous-or prosocial according to the the Value Orientation Test

  • My parents don’t yet have dementia

  • I'm not very physically flexible

  • I’m not very German

  • My wife and I know each other well

  • I have 45 years left to live

  • My office is Feng Shui

  • My eyesight is great

  • I have good reflexes


What did I think of the book?

Unsurprisingly none of the short tests in the book will give you any deep insight into your personality or skills. However, it serves as a great introduction and background to lots of interesting tests and would certainly help you decide which ones you might want to explore further. For my purposes, it gives me some ideas to explore for helping my clients, for others it may make for the basis of a good getting-to-know you discussion for teams or a fun coffee table book.

Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschäppeler have written a series of these books including The Decision Book, The Change Book and The Question Book. I believe the Decision book was the original (and in my opinion the best) but each one really gets you thinking. Get in touch if you would like to know what I thought of the others.

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What should I read next?

Have you read the book? What did you think? What shall I read next?

If you have any recommendations let me know below or via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn

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