Skip to main content

Embracing Change: Application of the OCEAN Model

Author by Elizabeth Fleming

Change is dynamic.

Change is hard.

Change is necessary.


Not only is change necessary, the discomfort that accompanies it is also necessary. A core tenet of A Deeper Way is to Get Used to Discomfort.

As humans, our psyches and bodies are hardwired to not accept change. Developing a deeper understanding of our unconscious and reactions to change (e.g., laughing, complaining, discounting ourselves, etc.) helps us to access our insecurities and fears and face them head on.

Facing our fears and challenging our insecurities helps each of us to grow. This, in itself, is change – positive change that helps us to be better versions of ourselves.

Personality is made up of measurable traits. We all possess different attitudes, beliefs, and preferences, which stay relatively stable over time; however, increasing self-awareness of these traits can be a highly effective method in promoting personal and professional development. There are many assessment tools available to engage in this personal exploration, but more to come on that in future blog posts…

For now, I will be focusing on one of the most widely used models of personality - the OCEAN, or five-factor model referred to as the ‘Big 5. This model is empirically based and describes five universal traits related to human behavior. It is the unique configuration of how high, or low, someone rates on each individual trait that makes up the sum of our personalities.


The five factors are:

  1. Openness means being open to experiencing new or different things.

Those who score high on this trait tend to be curious, open-minded, and creative. Those who score low may exhibit more conservative ways of thinking and be less open to change.

  1. Conscientiousness refers to the extent to which a person is responsible and achievement oriented.

Those scoring high on this factor may be thoughtful, organized and intentional, while those scoring low may be described as flexible, impulsive, or easy-going.

  1. Extraversion is related to comfort with other people and the amount of energy required or expended in social situations.

High scorers are often viewed as outgoing, energetic, and domineering, while low scorers tend to be described as reserved, task-oriented, or introverted.

  1. Agreeableness describes the level to which a person suppresses their interests for the sake of the group.

Individuals scoring high on this scale are often trusting, considerate, and accommodating. Low scorers tend to be tough-minded, direct, and possibly skeptical.

  1. Neuroticism (or as some prefer to call it - Emotionality) is related to an individual’s experience and the expression of emotions.

High scorers tend to be expressive, attuned to those around them, and reactive, while low scorers are often described as consistent, stoic, and aloof.


As a professional at a technology consulting firm that leverages proven change management strategies, I began thinking about the application of the Big 5 Model in our work. I began asking myself – what if we applied this model not only to ourselves, but to our clients?


The answer offers an interesting take on professional change management.


While we are unlikely to have each and every employee at a client organization take an assessment to determine the extent to which they identify with each of the Big 5 traits, we can begin to pay attention to the behavioral manifestations of the traits starting at the first point of contact. We can also inquire about the cultural experience of change within the organization, the teams impacted, and the styles and preferences of individuals on each team to determine what strategies may be more effective than others.

For example:

  • A team that is open will thrive in situations that require flexibility and learning new technology. They are more likely to seek information and build relationships, ultimately helping them adjust quicker to the new process or technology.
  • Teams high in conscientiousness are likely to respond to thoughtful, organized communication about the change, but may have some difficulty seeing how the change fits into the larger picture.
  • Teams high in extraversion could benefit from largely conversational strategies focused on building relationships and excitement about the impending change.
  • The level to which a team is agreeable may impact the strategies used. A team with a high level of agreeableness is likely to tolerate the change, but may quietly disagree with challenging the status quo, missing an opportunity for constructive change.
  • Neuroticism, or Emotionality, impacts the emotional experience of individuals impacted by the change. Lower levels of Emotionality may produce teams that habitually notice the positive aspects of the situation, ultimately producing more successful results.


While this post is a simplistic view of personality and of change management, it is an area I would recommend all sales employees, technology consultants, and strategic business partners consider when implementing solutions that will impact the individuals, teams, and organizations they work with.


At Concurrency, we are Change Agents – we not only design and implement technology solutions, but help our clients to access their fears, face them head on, and embrace the power of challenging the status quo.