Kolbe terminology and our unique use of language


A mid-range positioning of 4-6 units in a given Action Mode describing the ability to bridge differences between those on the outermost limits who initiate solutions or prevent problems in the same Action Mode. See ReAct

Action Modes®

As identified by Kathy Kolbe, four distinct clusters of behavior able to be measured which result from engaging our striving instincts Fact Finder, Follow Thru, Quick Start and Implementor.


Known for centuries as one of the three parts of the mind. Pertains to or arises from feelings or emotions as measured on personality or social style instruments. An emotion or tendency (noun); to influence (verb).

Best Effort

See Effort.


Initiating Action in a Kolbe Action Mode combined with another insistent (or highly responding) mode. The Initiating Actions will have a duality of expression in those two modes. Formerly referred to as Natural Advantages.


Known for centuries as one of the three parts of the mind. Deals with knowledge, competencies and intellectual processes as measured on IQ or skills tests.


Guarantee that the necessary instinctive power will be allocated to accomplish a goal.


Known for centuries as one of the three parts of the mind. Action derived from instinct; purposeful mode of striving, volition. Can be measured by the Kolbe A™ Index.

Conative clones

People whose instinctive way of taking action is so similar that they replicate each other’s performance.

Conative Stress

The result of a compelling need being denied when one’s natural drive is thwarted, creating unproductive pressure on the individual.


As defined by Kathy Kolbe, conative stress that results from natural differences of four units or more in how people function in any one Action Mode.


Conative behavior(s) arising from a resistance in a Kolbe Action Mode. One of three equal Zones of Operation.

Creative Process

See Kolbe Creative Process.


The result of using your instinctive energy (noun); to bring about (verb).


Conative actions you take to solve problems.

Best Effort

Actions that use your four natural Kolbe Strengths or instinctive abilities.

Foolish Effort

Actions you take that you know are not your best efforts or working against your M.O. or instincts. See Wasted Effort.

Levels of Effort

The degree to which we decide to employ our mental energy or engage our instincts as represented on a scale. See Will. Lowest level – Intention, Middle level – Attempt, Highest level – Commitment

Wasted Effort

Energy you use to take action that goes against your grain, or is contrary to your best efforts. Working without using your natural talents. See Wasted Effort.

Erg (Mental Erg)

Unit of energy.


A person with all four Action Modes in the mid-range. Also termed Mediator.

Fact Finder

The Action Mode that deals with detail and complexity, providing the perspective of experience.

Failure Factors

Fear, Fatigue, Frustration.

Follow Thru

The Action Mode that deals with structure and order, and provides focus and continuity.

Foolish Effort

See Effort.

Going Against Your Grain

Making efforts that do not use your instinctive talents.

Impact Factors

See Kolbe Strengths.


The Action Mode that deals with physical space and ability to operate manually, and provides durability and a sense of the tangible.

Initiating Actions

Conative behavior(s) arising from an insistence in a Kolbe Action Mode. One of 3 equal Zones of Operation.


The instinctive way of approaching a solution to a problem through any Action Mode. A measurement of 7-10 units of conative energy in any Action Mode. Also referred to as insistence.


See Initiation.


Loss of productivity caused by the uniformity of action among people in an organization.


Mental energies which are universal, intrinsic, individual talents, seminal, valid across cultures, needs, innate, natural, authentic, inborn tendencies to strive or initiate action through probing, patterning, innovating, and demonstrating.


See Kolbe A Index.


A person’s instinctive way of dealing with detail, structure, risk and tangible effort.

Kolbe Creative Process

The mental process that results in the development of something that has not previously existed; also the mental process that naturally takes place when the mind is focused on solving a particular problem.

Kolbe Concept®

Unique expression by Kathy Kolbe of her theory of individual performance driven by instinctive behaviors. Consists of psychometric measurements identifying natural talents and providing a pathway to higher productivity and greater satisfaction.

Kolbe Hierarchy of Human Effort

A hierarchical model of the graduated, sequential steps that lead to higher levels of thinking, feeling and taking action in the creative problem-solving process.

Culture Hierarchy

A model for assigning the status on the Hierarchy for a category of people who are affiliated, but who do not make decisions interactively.

Individual Hierarchy

A model of the specific behaviors an individual exhibits when making decisions at each level of the Hierarchy, in each of the three dimensions of the mind cognitive, conative, and affective.

Leader Hierarchy

A model of the levels of decision making required of leaders as they develop higher standards of performance for themselves and others whose decisions they influence.

Team Hierarchy

A model of the levels of decision making – in all three dimensions of the mind – available to a group of people who work interdependently.


Kolbe Indexes

Kolbe A™ Index

An instrument designed by Kathy Kolbe that quantifies the degree of natural talent an individual possesses in each Action Mode.

Kolbe B™ Index

An instrument designed by Kathy Kolbe that measures self-perceptions of job requirements.

Kolbe C™ Index

An instrument designed by Kathy Kolbe that indicates the conative requirements for success in a job as described by any third party, frequently a supervisor.

Kolbe R™ Index

An instrument designed by Kathy Kolbe to identify how one person wishes the other person would take action in a personal relationship.

Kolbe Y™ Index

Youth version of the Kolbe A Index designed by Kathy Kolbe for a fourth–grade reading level.

Kolbe IF™ Index

An instrument designed by Kathy Kolbe that quantifies the underlying pattern of a child’s (ages 2 – 8) actions as described by a third party who knows the child extremely well, frequently a parent.

Kolbe Strengths™

The twelve ways of taking instinctive action when problem-solving. Each of us takes action in each of the four Action Modes and our uniqueness derives from the combinations.

Kolbe Theory™

The theory of individual performance driven by instinctive behaviors originated by Kathy Kolbe. It includes psychometric measurements identifying natural talents and providing a pathway to higher productivity and greater satisfaction.

Kolbe Wisdom™

Creating solutions through intelligence, integrity, and trusting your instincts.


Activity that does not involve striving. See Recreation.

Levels of Effort

See Effort.


See Facilitator.

Mental Energy

Internal power sources available to drive one’s Instincts toward goal-directed activity.

Modus Operandi (M.O.)/Method of Operation

A numerical representation of one’s instinctive way of taking action as measured across the four Action Modes.

Natural Advantage™

Description of the natural way of operating based on the combination of talents derived from a Kolbe A result.


Having tenacity, perseverance, dogged resolution, a ruling passion, being willful, acting with determination.

Paths to Success

See Kolbe Strengths.


The instinctive way of resisting certain activities in an Action Mode as a unique method of problem solving. A measurement of 1-3 units of Mental Energy in an Action Mode. Also known as CounterAction or resistance.


To goad, inspire, push, direct, trigger action, make happen, cause.

Quick Start

The Action Mode that deals with originality and risk-taking, and uncertainty.


Free time activity that involves striving. See Leisure.


See Prevention.


Having from 4 to 6 units of mental energy in an Action Mode, indicating an ability to accommodate in the mode as needed. See ReAct.


As defined by Kathy Kolbe, conative stress resulting from a person’s unrealistic self-expectations of how he or she needs to perform.


An impelling need is denied when one’s natural drive is thwarted, creating unproductive pressure on the individual. (See Conflict, Strain, and Tension).

Striving Instincts

Innate power sources that compel us to be productive through probing, patterning, innovating, or demonstrating.

Striving Zones

Three equal Conative zones of performance as measured by the Kolbe A Index.


As defined by Kathy Kolbe, conative stress resulting from another person’s unrealistic requirements for how a person will perform.

Theory of Equality

Every individual is endowed with equal Will and is, therefore, equally capable of creating solutions.

Theory of Variance

The Striving Instincts are universal and do not vary by culture or opportunities. The distribution of talents for a general population falls within a natural bell curve.

Three Parts of the Mind

(3-Dimensional mind) The mind controls the actions stimulated by the Will and transmitted by the striving instincts. Every Individual has three mental faculties • Cognitive or intellectual, which controls thought • Affective or emotional, which controls feelings • Conative or functional, which controls actions.


Exercises that involve the use of all three parts of the mind to do creative problem-solving.


The loss of ability to express or recognize one’s own conative nature; loss of sense of self. Kolbe results are distinguished on the bar chart by an asterisk under the Action Mode(s) that is out of sync.

Wasted Effort

See Effort.


The power of control the mind has over whether, or to what degree, to engage the striving instincts. Although an intellectual awareness of the need to employ these instincts or an affective concern for their use may exist, free will makes that determination. See Levels of Effort.


What happens when something is accomplished. It is seemingly effortless.

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