What Makes Touchstones Executive Programs Uniquely Effective?

  • We foster skills often overlooked in traditional leadership development courses such as active listening and collaborative communication.
  • We work with each client’s individual needs.
  • We instill traits necessary to keep up with 21st century advances.

As the world changes, so must the ways we grow our organizations and develop the 21st century workforce. Our world is becoming more interconnected, bringing together people with varied backgrounds and different perspectives. Technology places volumes of information at our fingertips. Skills such as problem-solving in groups, processing and evaluating new information, and working with diverse groups of people are more important than ever to success.

The Touchstones Executive Programs offers leaders and managers the tools to meet the demands of their emerging environment. Employees of all backgrounds and skill levels—across the United States and around the world—currently participate in Touchstones training. In their Touchstones discussions, participants learn strategies to help them navigate the expanding demands of the 21st century. Touchstones helps participants learn to process information, ask meaningful questions, and enlist the help of others in making decisions. As managers listen, explore, cooperate, and solve problems, they become collaborators in their own learning and leadership. They learn that work is not always about right or wrong answers but often about better or worse decisions.

What is a Touchstone?

A touchstone was a stone used by jewelers to determine the quality of gold or silver. The metal to be tested was scratched on this smooth black stone, and the scratch-mark told how pure the metal was. The touchstone, therefore, was a tool used to reveal the nature of some other thing.

Texts serve as the touchstone in a Touchstones discussion class by revealing the thoughts, hidden talents, abilities, and expectations of the group members. Just as a touchstone was not itself precious but was an important tool, so too the Touchstones texts are not themselves the reason for the discussion but are the essential tools for it.

A discussion is a cooperative exploration of ideas, in which all participants have an equal right to speak and learn and an equal responsibility to listen and make room for others. Touchstones discussions offer a setting in which participants, by sharing and examining their ideas, can come to a greater understanding of themselves and others. A discussion is not a debate, a casual conversation, a question-and-answer session, or a simple sharing of stories. A discussion has no rigid agenda and no goal of reaching a definite conclusion.

Although most people can join a group conversation and be polite and not interrupt, the development of higher-level discussion skills requires time, practice, and guidance. Carefully chosen texts, an effective discussion leader, and basic discussion ground rules are essential in a Touchstones discussion. As leaders progress through the lessons, they will have the opportunity to acquire fundamental listening, speaking, and thinking skills, and they will become better learners, capable of teaching themselves and others. Touchstones develops these skills through the systematic use of Individual Work, Small Group Work, and large group discussion—all grounded in texts that exercise specific skills and highlight the discussion process itself.

Participants in Touchstones discussion sessions will learn and apply these skills:

  • Ask questions to clarify and improve understanding.
  • Assert ideas with supporting evidence.
  • Examine their own assumptions and explore other perspectives.
  • Make connections to other subjects and experiences.
  • Learn to recognize patterns across texts of varied type and complexity.
  • Read more effectively for meaning.
  • Analyze personal and group effectiveness.
  • Collaborate with people from differing backgrounds.
  • Share leadership and responsibility.