No not the TV show, but the importance of not being taken in by some of the myths floating around the learning and development and associated consultancy space.
Or at least the importance of not confusing 'models' with research tested theories.
Claims with, as far as I have been able to discover, little or no research data to support them include:
This last is obviously very popular with those organisations attempting to sell social media as a vital learning tool (a way of capturing the 70%). It may also be useful as a device/trick to encourage coaching, mentoring, performance management and continuous improvement. As one pragmatic O.D. Manager said to me last week, "we use it, but just as a broad framework".
Incidentally, the original piece of research which apparently kicked the whole thing off seems to have been Alan Tough's 1968 paper dealing with motivations for learning in a study of 35 individuals. Yes 35, that's all.
We note in passing that Harvard University, in promoting one of its business publishing newsletters, delightfully emphasises that "according to some estimates, people learn 70% of what they know about their jobs informally, through processes not sponsored by the company", (my italics).
Princeton University offers it as a "philosophy of learning" and, Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger for the Center for Creative Leadership state that "the odds are that development will be": about 70% from on-the-job experiences, tasks, and problem solving, about 20% from feedback and from working around good or bad examples of the need, about 10% from courses and reading." (My italics)
This sounds reasonable. But only if we have a good method for calculating the odds. And I don't mean just asking people for their opinions using a 5 point scale and reporting the results as numbers. (This might tell us what people think, but it won't tell us if they are right). Nassim Nicolas Taleb, of Fooled by Randomness and Black Swan fame would love this whole area.
Pragmatically, the message seems to be that using percentages like this has been found to be useful in focusing attention on the reality that workshops are not the only way people learn.
The big problem is it masks the fact that one of the main O.D Challenges can be getting people to 'unlearn' bad practices they have picked up when workplace culture is not what it should be.
While I'm on this, have a look at the recent "white paper" produced by Deakin University, they have taken the trouble to have a look at some of the current use of the model.
This is useful and can be found at http://www.deakinprime.com/deakinprime/content/news/files/70.20.10_white-paper.pdf