My Aha Moments from APTi 2013

I’m just returning from Miami and the 20th Biennial Association for Psychological Type International Conference. I used to serve on the Association’s Board of Directors with Jane Kise, the conference’s Co-Chair and a very good friend. Jane challenged attendees to blog on their aha moments from the conference. Here are mine.

  • The Power of One Big Idea – Most conferences are full of experts talking to other experts on a wide variety of exotic topics. In the meantime, the person reaching massive numbers of lay people interested in personality is Susan Cain, the best-selling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Rather than impart a wide range of brilliant ideas, Susan has attracted a worldwide following while talking about one basic thing.
    Although the nature of my work necessitates the sharing of many ideas, the power of one big idea that connects with someone’s experience of themselves has a more memorable impact and greater immediate applicability. Therefore, I will be constantly evaluating my work to find opportunities to summarize it into a single powerful, memorable and applicable idea.
  • The inverse of the power of one big idea is The Curse of Knowledge. The curse occurs when an expert finds it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed people. The result is that expert teachers can overwhelm a new learner with too much complex information such that the new learner gains no new knowledge. It was great hearing this idea from several presenters, as I am particularly susceptible to the curse. The antidote lies in The Power of the One Big Idea described above, and my third aha moment, below.
  • Stickiness – My biggest aha moment of the conference was seeing a theme of people who are being very creative in tackling a significant issue with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator© even for the best professionals: the amount and complexity of just the basic information in its ubiquitous 4-letter code makes it hard to remember; and so much misinformation gets generated from what is remembered. In other words, the MBTI© intrinsically suffers from The Curse of Knowledge.
    There appears to be a sea change in the type community to cure this curse. Influenced by the book Made to Stick (Chip and Dan Heath), some very creative practitioners are attempting to make type concepts sticky by replacing wordy jargon and abstract concepts with more everyday language, visuals that tell immediately apparent stories and symbols that are close to everyday experience. These will enable learners to discover on their own what is most useful for them.
    Since the learners are the most informed about their own situations, this makes the teacher the lesser-informed person and avoids The Curse of Knowledge altogether. Rather than the teacher creating a long and laborious process to ensure that a lot of complex information is being transmitted accurately, finding ways to make the information sticky will make the MBTI relevant. In today’s information-age culture, immediate relevancy is valued more than accuracy and I’m very happy to see that there are those within the type community who recognize and are responding to this trend.

Jane had a big idea in her blog: to avoid forgetting and never using the exciting ideas you learn at a conference, instead take your conference aha moments and turn them into an acronym. OK, mine is PICKS: Power of one Idea; Curse of Knowledge; Stickiness.

Thanks, Jane, and thank you to everybody involved in a fun and fascinating APTi 2013 Conference!

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