People are often amazed that Honey & Mumford really exist.  When I meet people they say ‘Ah, so you are the Honey of Honey & Mumford.  Where is Mumford?’  Since it’s rare for us to be seen together, meeting one of us tends to raise questions about the other. I have even met people who are convinced we are one person; Honey Mumford. They are shocked to discover we are two men – especially if they had imaged Honey Mumford was female and blonde!


So, who are Honey & Mumford?

Peter Honey and Alan Mumford are longstanding colleagues who met in the mid-seventies.  We cooperated on a number of management training projects in ICL (International Computers Limited), before Alan moved to take up a position as the management development advisor in Chloride.  He inherited an office with lots of filing cabinets in a row along one wall, each with metal bar and large padlock. These cabinets contained confidential reports on all the managers in Chloride. In those days every manager was put through a series of psychometrics probing their IQ, their personality, their analytical thinking, their leadership skills – and all the rest of it.

Alan wondered how he could use the information contained in these reports to help him produce personal development plans that were tailor-made for each manager.  Knowing I was a chartered psychologist, Alan asked if I could help. I soon realised that, whilst the psychological reports were very comprehensive, a vital piece of information was missing; how each manager preferred to learn. In fact, learning was never mentioned in any of the reports.

The quest was on to fill the gap by finding a way of getting reliable information about each manager’s learning style preferences.  This wasn’t as straightforward as it at first seemed because, when managers were quizzed about how they preferred to learn, they tended to look blank and say, ‘I’ve no idea; I just do it’.  This led to four years experimentation with different versions of the learning styles questionnaire which, having been tested and found useful in Chloride, was self-published in the autumn of 1982.

There is an amusing story about how the questionnaire came to be self-published.  The original intention was to send the manuscript (there were such things as manuscripts in those days!) to a ‘proper’ publisher, but I, in a flush of entrepreneurial zeal, managed to persuade Alan that we could go it alone.  We contributed 50/50 towards the printing costs.  It was decided that since this was a specialist publication, aimed a niche market of management trainers, we would print 500 copies. To our surprise, we ran out of stock in just four weeks.  We met to decide whether to print more copies and, if so, how many.  Alan was characteristically cautious.  He argued that, whilst the take-up had been astonishing, the market would now be close to saturation so only a few more copies should be printed.  I, always one to take a risk, urged Alan to be bold and print another 500 copies.  They sold out in about eight weeks!

An interesting aspect of the Honey & Mumford collaboration (learning styles was the first of many co-authored publications) is that Alan and I have quite different learning style preferences.  Alan is a Reflector/Theorist and I am a Pragmatist/Activist. This means that we have always worked together in a way where the skills of one make up for the deficiencies of the other.  I encourage Alan to take risks and Alan encourages me to take more care. The partnership is powerful; an illustration of how the whole equals more than the sum of the parts.

And the good news is that after all these years we are still friends!


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