Using the Working Gensius Model

in GIS, with Teams and Project Management

By Ethan Barker


Consider this question: what if you spent more time doing things that energized you and less time doing things that taxed you?

In the context of work, there are things we naturally enjoy doing and there are things that naturally “tax” us. For example, some folks enjoy throwing out novel ideas in a meeting and you can tell they’re excited as their voice heightens and their body language changes. Others loooove checking off that to-do list (you know who you are). And then we have teammates that despise it when their boss asks them to “find a pattern or trend in this data” and the longer they stare at it the more their brain fills up with smoke…

These are only a few examples of daily work activities and you can begin to break them down for yourself and your own work.

That’s where the Working Genius model comes in and why it was created. There are a total of six Geniuses: Wonder, Invention, Discernment, Galvanizing, Enablement, Tenacity (W.I.D.G.E.T).

The model suggests that everyone has the following:

  • two Working Geniuses (work you are naturally gifted at and derive energy and joy from)
  • two Working Competencies (work you are capable of and don’t necessarily mind doing)
  • two Working Frustrations (work you aren’t naturally gifted at and don’t derive energy and joy

So, you take the Working Genius online assessment and you get a personalized report of your Geniuses, Competencies, and Frustrations.

For example, I have the Working Geniuses of Wonder and Enablement,
the Working Competencies of Discernment and Invention, and the Working Frustrations of Galvanizing and Tenacity.
Then, and this is the real utility of this model, we see how our Working Geniuses play into the “Three Successive Phases of Work”: (1) Ideation 🡪 (2) Activation 🡪 (3) Implementation. Just as a map is worth a
thousand words, check out the graphic below explaining each Genius and where they are called upon in
the Phases of work:

Remember, you have two of them. You can see how two Working Geniuses are called upon during each phase of work. You may have the two Geniuses in Ideation, namely Wonder and Invention (which would mean brainstorming sessions are really your cup of tea). Or, you may have one Genius at the front end during Ideation and one Genius at the tail end in Implementation. The key is knowing what yours and your teams’ Geniuses are. It’s helpful to map them out on a document or piece of paper. Then you will know which phase to offer your Geniuses in and which phase you should ask your teammates to be most
involved in. Alright, now I’d like to flesh this out a little more.

(1) Ideation: the first phase of work:

People with the Genius of Wonder are called upon in the Ideation phase. They are keen on asking the big 30,000 feet questions and they’re interested in hitting the right target and being effective.

People with the Genius of Invention are called upon in the Ideation phase. They are novel thinkers – ideas and solutions appear to come naturally to them.

(2) Activation: the second phase of work:

People with Discernment are called upon in the Activation phase. They have a good “gut feeling” about things, and they use patterns to determine what should be done. They have good judgment and taste. They seem to know if, and how, an idea will play out. (This is not to be confused with the spiritual gift of
discernment, which is different).

People with Galvanizing are called upon in the Activation phase. They are great motivators and can inspire people into action. Think of people who are great at rallying people around an idea.

(3) Implementation: the third and final phase of work:

People with Enablement are good at “coming alongside” and grabbing people and resources to move the mission downstream. Think of people who are good at carrying the momentum forward and maintaining good morale.

People with Tenacity are the task-masters and love producing measurable outcomes. Obstacles do not scare them, in fact that might fuel them.

In a nutshell, the work goes from being in the air to being on the ground:

(Ideation, 30k feet – 10k feet) The Wonderer identifies the correct problem and the Inventor comes up with several unique solutions,

(Activation, 10k – 1k) the Discerner vets those ideas and determines which one to move forward with and the Galvanizer rallies the internal and external participants on the idea to get the ball moving,

(Implementation, 1k – ground) the Enabler provides the necessary and appropriate support to increase the ball’s (idea) momentum and the Tenacious person makes sure the original intent of the idea gets carried out and crosses every item off the list and crosses it over the finish line.


I’ll use a GIS example to illustrate how this model is used. Imagine a long term cross-cultural missionary team is creating an inventory of Third-Space Meeting Locations and the team will populate it as they map out the spiritual and geographical context of the city.
The team meets for their regular weekly meeting. The Wonderer asks, “Are we sure that the locals here like to meet and study the bible in homes? My friends like to come over and I love practicing hospitality with them, but their friends won’t come over with them. I wonder if their friends would be open to meeting in a different setting?” A few of the team members mention having that same problem. The Inventor throws out some thoughts, “We could start meeting in “Third-Spaces”, you know, those social hubs where you don’t feel rushed to leave.”
The Discerner chimes in, “I really like this, I can see my friends liking this too – we should ask our local friends what kind of places the locals would like since they know their culture better than us.”
All of sudden things get loud in the room because the Galvanizer is raising their voice, “I love this! Let’s do this! Guys, if we start meeting in these public spaces we could meet more new people and develop gospel partnerships with the owners – potentially even finding our next worship gathering location!”
Things get quiet in the room… “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. How are we going to get this done?”, the Tenacious teammate queries. The Enabler chimes in, “I’m in. How can I help? I’ll gather the info from my friends and once you all send me your info from your friends I can put it all together however we need it to be.”
“I have an idea”, the Inventor shouts, “I’ll put together a spreadsheet we can share and gradually put in locations as we go. Wait, no! A map! An online map would show us locations near our focus areas and track locations near our local partners. And we could log info for each location, things like: location,
owner name, neighborhood, meeting capacity, loudness-rating, security-rating, food/drink costs, recommended meeting type…”
The Discerner cut her off, “maybe not all that information, but I really like the idea – and it needs to be easy to update so our friends can add to it.” The Enabler has a mapper-friend who can help spin up a map service for them, the following week the Online Map gets created and the Enabler starts gathering all the location info. The Tenacious person starts putting the correct information into the map and continues to maintain it for the next couple of months.

I hope this example illustrates how people can contribute their strengths into a project and into work. Knowing your teammates really helps this process work. If you know someone has Invention then you can honor them by asking them to help you come up with some ideas for a problem you’re dealing with.
If you know someone is an Enabler and they’re absolutely swamped helping everyone, consider not putting more things on their plate… but offer them support to get it done (helpers need help too). This model can promote team health if used properly. You can use it to honor your coworkers by acknowledging their talents and giving them opportunities to use them. And you can use it to learn more about one another, listen to one another, and encourage one another in advancing the gospel.

(For more info, search “The 6 Types of Working Genius” by Patrick Lencioni and the Table Group.)

This is one of many models, and it’s just that, a model – it doesn’t holistically explain a person’s natural wiring, rather it’s a simplification and it can be used to “point us in a direction”, so to speak.

Also, God is our source and He is Strength and Power so when he steps in you can throw this model out the door! The Word, Prayer, and Fellowship will be the best tools to wield in discovering our wiring and collaborating with others.