Every team member has a different learning style that has to be synced.

Every team member has a different learning style that has to be synced.

Another learning style model is built on four dimensions of learning styles. The dimensions of the Index of Learning Styles developed by Dr Richard Felder and Barbara Soloman are each described as a continuum.  Each continuum is bounded by opposite attributes of a learning style. An individual could map him or herself on each of the continuum to generate rich understand of their learning style. They are summarized below:

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Mature teams generally are comprised of mix of learning styles. A mixture of styles can be complementary. For example, many IT groups I have worked with have at least one big picture person and several more linear learners.  What I generally do not see are individuals that sit at the extremes of any of the dichotomies. Individuals that sit at an extreme tend to be more difficult to draw into the group which impacts the ability to communicate and the ability of team members to trust each other.

One use of this type of model is to map teams.  For example, if we use the example used in Learning Styles and Communication Problems in a mapping exercise, I would judge the three personalities Lawyer (L), Talker (T) and Diagrammer (D) to fall as below:

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The mapping exercise can be used to flag extremes that might cause trouble for the team. As noted in the example, the overall team was having issues staying focused when the Lawyer was presenting due to the sequential style being used. Using a mapping approach early in formation of the team can provide the coach with the impetuous for training exercises to sensitize the team to the disparate learning styles.

I suggest doing this exercise as a team when generating the team charter. The process I follow is:

  1. Place each of the descriptors on separate sticky notes and then place them on the wall so that all four continuums are visible.
  2. Review and discuss the meaning of each attribute.
  3. Have each team member mark where they believe they fall on each of the attribute continuums
  4. Discuss how the team can use the information to more effectively communicate.

Opposites might attract in poetry and sitcoms, however rarely do opposite learning styles work together well in teams without empathy and a dash of coaching. Therefore coach and teams need to have an inventory of learning styles on the team. Models and active evaluation against a model are tools to generate knowledge about teams so they can tune how they work to maximize effectiveness.

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