The tallest tree in the forest

Posted 24 August 2016 by
Penny Moyle, CEO OPP

Why continue to criticise the MBTI framework?’ 

Why be so defensive of the MBTI assessment?’ 

I’ve already done MBTI online for free so I know my Type, why do I need to do it again?’ 

In this week’s blog I’m exploring some answers to these frequently asked questions. To do this, I’ve included some video interviews from OPP’s recent MBTI User Event in London, where the opening panel discussion was on this very topic. 

Why criticise the MBTI framework? 

This 50-second video clip talks about why, despite years of delivering proven value, the MBTI assessment and framework is so often criticised because it’s the tallest tree in the forest. 

Why be so defensive of the MBTI assessment?

It was developed by a couple of housewives.

One of the common criticisms levelled at the MBTI assessment is that Myers and Briggs were amateurs, not formally trained in psychology, or associated with any academic institution, working from the kitchen table in their home.

What’s less widely talked about is that when Myers and Briggs were developing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator there simply was no formal education in psychometric test development that they could have undertaken. They were well-educated for women of that era, as well as being highly motivated. In fact, they were pioneers of this field, and others have since followed. 

In the clip below you can see me talking at the conference about another pioneering duo, the Wright brothers – famous for the first manned fixed wing aeroplane flight – who are never criticised for their lack of formal education in engineering in aviation.   

‘I’ve already done the MBTI online for free so I know my Type, why do I need to do it again?’ 

I can guarantee with absolute certainly that you haven’t!

The question of free online assessments regularly comes up. It’s something many MBTI practitioners face with clients every day – especially those holding the purse strings who will have inevitably researched alternative tools and solutions. They may have even tried a free tool and be confident in their ‘MBTI Type’.

My response is that if you’ve ‘done’ the MBTI questionnaire for free then it wasn’t the real MBTI assessment!

The power of the MBTI framework is not just in the questionnaire. The real impact is in the feedback and development process that follows ie exploring how the results fit for each individual and what they mean for personal development. Without that process, all too often people are left with a feeling of ‘So what?’  Free online questionnaires don’t deliver this whole package and so rarely have any lasting benefit.

In summary

As long as the MBTI assessment continues to be a household name, people will continue to criticise it. Millions of people each year start their Development Journey using the MBTI framework to make them more effective, which in turn leads to happier, more fulfilled lives. We’ll always have our critics, but the proof is in what we’re able to achieve – and we'll continue to defend a framework that has a positive impact.

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