Those colour-coded idiots and their social styles

Lately, Thomas Erikson’s best-selling book (and accompanying industry) called Surrounded By Idiots has been criticized for lack of scientific background and even for having been basically made up.

I haven’t read the book. Mainly because when it came out I thought it was old news. Similar frameworks, such as Wilson Learning’s Social Styles or the Peili model developed in Finland had been around for decades.

At the time I was a partner in Wiltrain, a company that represented Wilson Learning’s programmes in Finland, and had been doing Social Styles for years, with a very good reception. I thought of Surrounded By Idiots as just another rehash of the theme, with a distasteful title and colour coding added.

It turned out though that Thomas Erikson could do something that neither Wilson Learning or Peili or anyone else had succeeded in, namely to make the concept a viral, global success. Hats off to Thomas for that.

I have referred to the Social Styles model in some of my training sessions, and therefore the accusations on Thomas Erikson’s model resonated with me. Having been associated with Wilson Learning through Wiltrain I recalled that Social Styles actually had a scientific background to it, and when checking I was provided with the attached description of what the model is based on. In my view it is a reasonably solid basis, but feel free to comment on it.

I have not come across any responses by Thomas Erikson to the accusations so far. That also seems strange, since at least this evidence on a similar model is available. But maybe he doesn’t wish to draw attention to the similarities.