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3

Being right is

better than being

well-meaning

As a profession we can probably say we've

moved on from the myth of learning styles. (If

you've any doubt, see Coffield, 2003 and

Pashler, 2008.) But if we have moved on, it's

not very far. I say that because at the time of

writing (February 2019) there's a new myth in

town - the Iceberg of Ignorance. You'll know it

from statements like "Executives see 4% of

the problems" and "Front line workers see

100% of the problems".

The IoB has all the traits of a great myth:

• A story that resonates - yeah, those

creepy executives know nothing!

• A simple answer to a complex problem -

why don't executives get it?

• Sciency-sounding percentages to add

credibility

• Best of all … a nice graphic of an iceberg.

A nice graphic is the key to going viral.

There's only one problem with this. It's too

simple. Do these 'problems' extend to (for

example) cash flow planning? Are all sizes of

businesses, in all sectors, in all countries, the

same? Unfortunately, as with learning styles,

it's easier to see some truth in this, and

suspend our critical thinking, rather than ask

difficult, probing questions.

Douglas E Dawson asked these questions,

and tried to track down the original work

behind the iceberg. His conclusion: it was

"likely a myth that has been perpetuated via

the internet by well-meaning individuals and

organizations".

It's not enough for L&D to be well-meaning.

We must also demand high standards of

evidence. If we want to be taken seriously, we

have to base our work on more than an

internet meme.

Find us on social media

Donald H Taylor

Chairman

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