Interesting extra information on the 70-20-10 myth

I really love blogging, and this reaction on my earlier post on the 70-20-10 myth with extra information by Michelle is an example why I like blogging so much:

Hi,
maybe a recent quote from an article by DeRue and Myers in The Oxford Handbook of leadership and organization (2014) can shed some light in this discussion:

The existing research on experience-based leadership development spans across a wide range of different types of experiences, including informal on-the-job assignments (McCall et al., 1988), coaching and mentoring programs (Ting & Sciscio, 2006), and formal training programs (Burke & Day, 1986). A common assumption in the existing literature is that 70% of leadership development occurs via on-the-job assignments, 20% through working with and learning from other people (e.g., learning from bosses or coworkers), and 10% through formal programs such as training, mentoring or coaching programs (McCall et al., 1988; Robinson & Wick, 1992).

Despite the popularity of this assumption, there are four fundamental problems with framing developmental experiences in this way. First and foremost, there is actually no empirical evidence supporting this assumption, yet scholars and practitioners frequently quote it as if it is fact. Second, as McCall (2010) appropriately points out, this assumption is misleading because it suggests informal, on-the-job experiences, learning from other people, and formal programs are independent. Yet, these different forms of experience can occur in parallel, and it is possible (and likely optimal) that learning in one form of experience can complement and build on learning in another form of experience. Third, it is inconsistent with the fact that a large portion of organizational investments are directed at formal leadership development programs (O’Leonard, 2010). It is certainly possible that organizations are misguided in their focus on and deployment of these programs (Conger & Toegel, 2003), but we are not ready to condemn formal programs given the lack of empirical evidence. Finally, it is possible that the “70:20:10″ assumption leads organizations to prioritize informal, on-the-job experience over all other forms of developmental experiences, which some scholars argue allows leadership development to become a “haphazard process” (Conger, 1993: 46) without sufficient notice to intentionality, accountability and formal evaluation (Day, 2000).

Kind regards Michelle

2 thoughts on “Interesting extra information on the 70-20-10 myth

  1. Reblogged this on In the Learning Age and commented:
    This is an interesting discussion. I still believe that the 70-20-10 structure is a good way to get folks who have historically relied on formal programs exclusively to think in new ways about their training needs. Informal learning — and developing a culture that honors it and skills for individuals to capture and retrieve it — is crucial in our always-on, data-driven workplaces. However, the writer here is correct that those numbers seem arbitrary and are probably meaningless. So, I guess I ride the fence on this debate, but am very interested to see more thought and research in learning, formal and informal.

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