Kolbe Index

A few years back, my sister and I attended a business training conference where they discussed a personality test that compared different types of vehicles. We were sitting in different spots, but looking at each other, smiling and laughing because the personalities depicted and the cars associated with the personality exactly fit both and we both owned the car to match! It was a fun analogy that helped us understand our personalities better.

Personality tests and assessments, like the love languages book, can be helpful in understanding how we give and receive love and how our personalities shape our interactions and decision-making.

However, one area that many tests often miss is our instinctive nature, which is where the Kolbe index comes in.


The Kolbe IndexKolbe Index

The Kolbe Index measures our instinctive behavior when it comes to problem-solving. While our personalities may change some over time, our instincts and preferred modes of operation tend to stay consistent. Understanding our instinctive behavior helps us relate to others and gain better self-awareness.

The Kolbe Index categorizes our action modes into four types: fact-finder, follow-through, quick-start, and implementer.

Fact-finder refers to how we gather and share information, with some individuals preferring a simplified, big-picture approach, while others crave detailed research.

Follow-through relates to how we handle and arrange information, ranging from adapting and winging it to meticulously planning every step.

Quick-start measures our willingness to embrace risk and uncertainty, with some individuals favoring stability and tried-and-true methods while others are more open to trying new things.

Implementer focuses on how we deal with space and tangibles, from imagining things to needing tangible evidence.


Those who fall within the range of one to three on the Kolbe index . They want the bottom line and the big picture without being overwhelmed by excessive details. On the other hand, individuals who fall within the mid-range tend to explain things. They want into more details, review information, and may even test certain aspects to gain a comprehensive understanding. As the number increases, indicating a higher score on the index, individuals desire all the details and extensive research. They may even seek more information than they can effectively process, leading to potential information overload.

Follow Through

Follow-through is another aspect that deals with how we handle and organize information. If someone scores low in this area, they are inclined to adapt, they tend to create shortcuts and prefer to go with the flow without detailed plans. They are comfortable with “winging it” and making adjustments as needed. On the other hand, individuals in the middle range of follow-through prefer to maintain a basic plan that can be adjusted along the way. They value having some structure but are open to making changes. For those who score higher in follow-through, having a well-defined plan is essential. They desire a clear set of steps and a detailed action plan to follow.


Quickstart relates to how we approach risk and uncertainty. A low score in Quickstart indicates a preference for stability and reliance on tried-and-true methods. These individuals are hesitant to try new things and prefer the familiar. Those in the mid-range are more open to new experiences but still require detailed information before making a decision. They strike a balance between embracing novelty and seeking a level of certainty. On the other hand, individuals with a high Quickstart score have a spontaneous and adventurous approach. They are eager to jump in and try new things, embracing risk and uncertainty without extensive deliberation.


The final action mode, Implementer, focuses on how individuals approach space and tangible objects. Individuals with a low Implementer score rely on their imagination and are comfortable conceptualizing ideas without requiring physical representations. They can visualize things without the need for concrete objects. On the other hand, those with a mid-range Implementer score prefer to have something tangible to interact with. They appreciate having a physical representation or visual aid to enhance their understanding.

In contrast, individuals with a high Implementer score have a strong preference for tangibility. They need physical objects to grasp and manipulate in order to fully comprehend and engage with them. They rely on concrete demonstrations or tangible examples to solidify their understanding.

Kolbe in Action

Let’s consider planning a trip as an example to understand how these different action modes can apply. In my own experience, I can observe distinct preferences among my sisters. For instance, the sister with a high Fact Finder score is meticulous in her travel planning. She researches extensively, knowing every detail about the destinations, costs, and logistics. On the other hand, the sister with a mid-range Fact Finder score seeks some key information but doesn’t require an exhaustive overview. She is content with a general understanding. Similarly, in terms of follow-through, the adaptable sister prefers to go with the flow, without a rigid itinerary. She embraces spontaneity and figures things out along the way. In contrast, the sister with a high follow-through score plans every aspect meticulously. She leaves nothing to chance and has everything organized to perfection.

The same applies to Quickstart preferences. If someone has a low Quickstart score, they tend to stick to familiar places, avoiding significant changes in their travel plans. They find comfort in revisiting the same vacation spot repeatedly. Those in the mid-range are more open to trying new destinations but may prefer small, incremental changes rather than drastic shifts. Conversely, individuals with high Quickstart scores thrive on novelty and adventure. They are open to exploring new places without hesitation.

These diverse personalities and approaches are not limited to planning trips but also extend to dealing with financial matters. Understanding these differences is crucial when it comes to effective communication and collaboration in various contexts.

Understanding our action modes can be beneficial in various contexts, including working with a financial advisor. It helps advisors tailor their communication and approach to match the client’s preferred mode. For example, someone who prefers a simplified, big-picture approach may be overwhelmed by excessive details, while someone who values planning and follow-through will appreciate a more structured approach.

It is possible to adjust and learn behaviors outside of our natural action modes. For instance, if someone is not naturally inclined towards high follow-through but their job requires them to create systems, they may be able to adapt and perform the tasks. However, it’s important to note that such adjustments often require additional effort and can drain one’s energy, similar to how a low Quickstart individual might feel stressed when constantly required to try new things. When we operate outside of our instinctive nature, it can lead to increased stress and a sense of being worn out.

While we have the capability to function in all action modes, deviating from our instinctive preferences can have consequences on our well-being. Understanding our natural inclinations and leveraging them can help us work more effectively and efficiently, minimizing stress and fatigue. By aligning our actions with our instinctive nature, we can optimize our performance and overall well-being.

Recognizing and respecting these action modes also applies to personal relationships. Understanding the differences in how individuals process information, handle uncertainty, and approach tasks can lead to better communication and collaboration.

The Kolbe index provides a numerical measurement for each action mode, helping individuals gain insight into their instinctive behavior. Taking the test and reviewing the results can be eye-opening and provide clarity on why we behave the way we do. It’s important to note that there is no right or wrong action mode—it’s simply a way to understand ourselves and others better.

If you’re interested in learning more or taking the assessment, check out more on their website Kolbe.com (it is the Kolbe A Index that you will want to take). Taking the test can be a valuable step towards improving communication and understanding in various aspects of life, including working with a financial advisor. As a financial advisor, knowing our clients’ action modes helps ensure effective communication and a better understanding of their needs and preferences.

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