Whether we are instructing, designing instruction, or creating a comprehensive development program that incorporates components of learning, Fountain applies a uniquely powerful set of tools and perspectives to achieve our clients’ goals.
Two of those tools are adult development theory and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI). Together, these tools enable us to create learning environments and approaches that offer access to a wide range of participants and support many variations in learner styles:
- MBTI informs Fountain’s choices about activities, sequencing, and group dynamics for every session and every program we design. For example, we may blend short written exercises, paired sharing, small-group activities and large-group discussion to support the preferences of both Introverts and Extraverts. We may combine conceptual models with concrete examples and applications, to appeal to both Sensing and iNtuitive types. We may bring attention to objective data and tasks, on the one hand, and to subjective emotions and relationships on the other, to engage both Thinking and Feeling types. In deference to both Perceiving and Judging preferences, we may balance structure and timely progression through segments with the openness and flexibility to respond to learner interests and needs that emerge.
- Adult psychological development informs Fountain’s choices about learner objectives and program goals as we clarify these with clients and as we gain familiarity with the learner group. For example, a client may want to produce the outcome of “team members take more independent initiative,” and we may perceive that the learners have been prioritizing smooth relationships, seeking consensus, and conforming to expectations within the organization’s hierarchy. We might choose different options if, instead, the client goals with the same learner group were that “team members collaborate across functional lines” or “team members contribute to a re-imagination of the organizational structure.”
Two additional perspectives shape Fountain’s approach to teaching and learning:
- Packing In vs. Unpacking: Most training courses involve packing new information into the brains of students, and that’s why most leadership training fails to create behavioral change. Human beings require significant support in unpacking the knowledge they have acquired so that it becomes wisdom they can apply to their choices from moment to moment. Cognitive researchers have described this distinction as analytical thinking (packing in and understanding literal meaning) versus reflective thinking (unpacking and interpreting felt meaning). Tools to facilitate reflective thinking include journaling, coaching, and structured peer exchanges that resemble coaching by peers.
- Knowledge from Within vs. Knowledge from Without: Most training presumes that the teacher holds the only important knowledge and that the teacher must transfer this knowledge into the minds of students. Some learning does require interaction with a teacher-expert, and yet much learning can be accomplished better by tapping into the experience and knowledge within the capable adults around the room. As facilitators of learning, Fountain’s coaches and instructors invite both sources of wisdom when they are each appropriate, which results in learners who are more actively engaged in making meaning out of the material and who build crucial relationships with their learner peers to strengthen organizational networking and effectiveness.