pro·fil·ing /ˈprōˌfīliNG/ noun
the recording and analysis of a person's psychological and behavioral characteristics, so as to assess or predict their capabilities in a certain sphere or to assist in identifying a particular subgroup of people. "we put everyone through psychometric profiling"
(Definitions from Oxford Languages) Profiling is often a controversial idea because it is variously interpreted as "categorizing" or "stereotyping". As categorization, it intends to highlight selection or alignment based on qualifications. As stereotyping it is sensed as a warning or criticism based on expectations.
Both things can be true at the same time -- but we approach profiling carefully in that we want to know what the motivation is for doing it, before we are willing to join in or accept it.
In a neutral sense, however, profiling is just a tool used to help create a model. Any model has the same basic purpose: it demonstrates the proposed coherence of a set of elements and relationships.
In that effort, a profile gives a description of the properties or attributes of something that allow us to see why it should be considered for inclusion or exclusion. The subject of a profile is not necessarily a person; it may just as easily be an event, an activity, a condition, or an environment.
When we are managing an intentional change, there is a constellation of ideas in place that include things like process, risk, effectiveness, value, and other ideas related to a sense of form, function, and order. In fact, it is largely the case that "management" is brought to a change to explicitly bring about those things with some logical predictability.
The change logic is the coherence supplied in the overall model of the change effort, and at the high level that logic says "If A, then B"... Profiling identifies and verifies what "A" should be and what "B" should be. The change logic says, "if we are going to accomplish an effect like type B, then we are going to want to include and relate an element like type A."
A profile is simply a selected group of qualities that are packaged for consideration as a unit, of a certain type. It makes sense both logically and historically (empirically) that certain types of effects correlate strongly with certain types of influences. As change managers, we are usually concerned with how a personal actor will affect the outcome of a desired change effort. We immediately look for certain types of actors that correlate strongly with positive outcomes in certain types of change (efforts). And we arrange both organizations and efforts accordingly.
We discover "qualified" actors (matching types) by looking for certain characteristics in terms of behavior. We discover, through measuring (both quantitatively and qualitatively) that certain types (profiles) of change efforts have more preferable outcomes when certain types of actors are responsible for and within the effort.
Why so much emphasis above on restating the obvious?
The reason for that is to reinforce the difference between what is done from why it is done.
Teams, tactics, and strategies are all modeled for "effectiveness" and management is held accountable for influences on that effectiveness.
Profiles describe the logic of the change effort by composing the model used to demonstrate why the effort will be effective. Profiles of change types associate with profiles of change actors and their interactions in roles.
Management accountability is directly served by using profiles to help discover, decide, design and deploy the effort needed for the intended change.
(c) 2020 malcolm ryder / changebridge llc