The Startup
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The Startup

Quiz: Are you a Changer or a Runner?

Analysts from Gartner suggest that everything you do is either a part of ‘‘change‘‘ or ‘‘run‘‘. ‘‘Run‘‘ stands for the routine, well-defined processes. ‘‘Change‘‘ — for expanding to the unknown, innovative or experimental. Find out if you are more of a Changer or a Runner and get an advice on how to grow.

If you still don’t quite get what a “Changer” or a “Runner” is — no worries, it actually means you’ll go into this quiz unbiased. Everything will be more than clear after you learn the results.

How to use this quiz: answer the questions and count how many times you chose “A” as your answer.


1. Which headstone would you choose for your grave:

A. “Here lies the person that provided their entire country with bread cutters”

B. “Here lies the person that invented the bread cutter”

2. You have received job offers from 2 different companies. Both are not ideal, but you have to choose the lesser evil. Which one will it be?

A. The one with a set routine, where every day is the same

B. The one completely chaotic one, where things change every day

3. How did you/would you choose the topic for your graduate thesis?

A. The more resources are available on the topic, the better

B. The less researched the topic is, the better

4. Your manager comes back from a conference and announces: “Folks, we’ve been doing everything wrong! From now on we will be doing everything differently”. Your reaction:

A. I’ll most likely feel anxious

B. I’ll most likely feel inspired

5. First two years of your career you’ve spent as an SMM manager of a women’s magazine. Now you want to change something. All else being equal, which job will you choose?

A. A Manager of the SMM department of another women’s magazine

B. A Junior marketing assistant for a startup

6. Your manager offers you to start a new project. Which one will you choose?

A. The one that launches in one year

B. The one that launches in one month

7. You are offered two projects to choose from. Which one will you choose?

A. The one where scaling a successful experiment of your predecessor is the main objective — allowing the company to make a lot of profit

B. The one where doing a more successful experiment than your predecessor’s is the main objective — and which will require spending a big chunk of the company’s budget

8. Alex and Paul both have a side hustle working as French tutors. Who do you agree with more?

A. Alex: “I love that Teacher’s Books tell us exactly what to do each moment of a lesson. Best minds on this planet came up with this curriculum — I don’t have to spend time figuring things out and can just perfect the process”.

B. Paul: “I don’t use the Teacher’s Books. When I had first found out about them I almost stopped tutoring altogether. When you don’t have to come up with your own lesson plans and do any research, it becomes too boring for me.”

9. You have a pretty risky idea that needs testing. Which one do you consider to be the lesser evil?

A. Not testing the idea and then seeing it work out for a competitor

B. Testing the idea to see that it doesn’t work and you were wrong

10. You just got a new job and the first thing you learn is that the manager throws all the newbies into a “death zone” — gives them a certain objective and total freedom in achieving it. If they don’t succeed — they get fired. What will your reaction be?

A. You’ll feel anxious because you are not sure if you can show your worth that quickly

B. You’ll feel happy because you get a chance to prove yourself right away

7 to 10 “A” answers — You are a Runner

“Run” stands for tried and tested tasks, projects or entire parts of business. Established process, predictable results, plans in operation with minor fluctuations. A Runner is someone who looks for rhythm and predictability.

Something a Changer creates from scratch can only survive if a Runner gets their hands on it.

Runner gets a “seasickness” from extreme changes. So, when it storms, they first try to call everyone to order, and then abandons the ship. A good Runner does not conserve the product or the process, they slowly but steadily perfect them. It is something called “kaizen” in Japan.

Jiro from “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” is a perfect example of a Runner.

Jiro dedicated his entire life to perfecting his sushi making skills. His process is precisely calibrated. His assistants are trained for years and years to perform even the basic tasks, before they reach an acceptable level of perfection. Jiro’s sushi are the best in the world. His restaurant has three Michelin stars, but he keeps working on perfecting his craft.

Sushi Genius — Jiro and his team. Watch the full documentary

Something a Changer creates from scratch can only survive if a Runner gets their hands on it. A Changer will lose interest and abandon the project for another one.

How to grow as a Runner

When a Runner is running late (pun unintended) or forgets something, it breaks the process and takes its toll on the company’s profits. So the first level of growing as a Runner is to perfect your discipline.

Second level is learning to optimize all the processes around yourself — making things faster, cheaper, automating things, visualising, combining and cataloging them.

Third level is to know not only how to keep the process running and perfect it, but also building complicated processes from scratch. A Runner can take the Changer’s successful experiment, build an assembly line out of it and apply “kaizen” to it.

Know your worth — the excellent Runners are scarce. What you do can increase the company’s profits today — and it’s easy to track and monitor.

Do not agree to projects or promotions that involve too much uncertainty — except for the cases when there is a strong Changer on the team, and you both understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Keep growing into a great Runner, know your strengths, and employers will be lining up to get you.

0 to 3 “A” answers — You are a Changer

“Change” involves those parts of a business which aim at creating something new or shifting the existing product to the next level. A Changer is someone who loves these types of projects. When Changers stop creating, their motivation and efficiency drop.

Steady improvements that make a good Runner happy don’t help Changers feel important enough.

A Changer fares well with uncertainty and chaos. They aren’t annoyed by new data and changing of plans. Need a User Agreement written for your first online store? Even if a Changer has no idea what it is, s/he’ll get to the bottom of it and will get it done.

When they have to work on repetitive and orderly tasks, they feel like the main character of the “Groundhog Day”. Steady improvements that make a good Runner happy don’t help Changers feel important enough. They want to go search for new rough diamonds instead of perfecting the old ones.

A Soviet rocket engineer Boris Rauschenbach was a perfect example of a Changer.

He was one of those working on sending Gagarin to outer space. After 40 years of working in rocket science he suddenly abandoned it entirely — to start his research on art. When asked why, he replied:

“When it was the first flight ever, we knew absolutely nothing about what awaits us in the outer space. And that was extremely interesting. Afterwards it became simple engineering. And simple engineering does not interest me.”

A Runner makes sure the business gets its profits today; a Changer makes sure it will get its profits tomorrow. But today a Changer just spends, and those spendings might ruin the business. A bad Changer will do more damage to a business than a bad Runner — so it’s very important to hone one’s skills as a Changer.

How to grow as a Changer

The ways a Changer and a Runner work are usually complete opposites of each other. For example, while a Runner double checks everything to be sure, a Changer must avoid “analysis paralysis” at all costs. Remember that you have to “Start Before You Are Ready”. Those principles are the first things every Changer has to learn, before they can master any instruments.

The difficult part is that the majority of us were brought up surrounded by Run principles. The school, college, university and other institutions made us play by the Runner’s rulebook. The majority of business books from the 20th century also aim at honing Run relates skills: building and optimizing business processes, traditional management, project administration and so on.

If you want to learn more about Change principles, look into startup and agile related books, be on a lookout for Changers at hackathons.

In Change instruments are secondary to principles. But they make things easier, more enjoyable and help avoid silly mistakes. You can look for those instruments in Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Design Thinking, Growth Hacking, Couching, Teal organizations, Business Agility, etc. Also look into all the innovation related stuff. This is a sea for a Changer to swim in — for the rest of their life.

Apart from principles and instruments a Changer must understand the business and know how to analyze anything, using whatever is available to them. If a Changer didn’t start with a Runner role, they must also get some basic level Runner skills — learn how to finish projects, clearly track progress, comply with deadlines and so on.

4 to 6 “A” answers — Inconclusive

Based on this quiz, you cannot be categorized as either a Runner or Changer.

Maybe you are one or the other, but Runner’s or Changer’s qualities are not too prominent in you. Maybe you are in balance and/or above categories, understanding the pros and cons of both sides and choosing how to act depending on situation.

Another option might be that these labels simply don’t work for you, like they don’t work for my grandma and millions of others on this planet. Or maybe this quiz is just imperfect. Read both the “Runner” and the “Changer” result descriptions and decide which one you feel like you belong to the most.

My name is Natalia Babaeva. I’m the founder of the School of Changers, based in Moscow. I write about the innovation for everyone — in Russian and English. Feel free to follow me on Medium.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +424,678 people.

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