70:20:10 - A MYTH OR PRACTICING REALITY?

by Trina Sarkar-Mohapatra - Senior Learning Designer.


First impressions and more

I stumbled upon the 70:20:10 model while reading an article back in 2007. It was focused around on-the-job training
 

I have to confess I did not think much of it and assumed it was another buzzword emerging within the Learning and Development world, which would eventually fade into oblivion.

However as fate would have it…our paths crossed again. And this time it was no leisure reading (ahem!) It was in an absolute different setting: I participated in a learning program that used elements of the 70:20:10 principle.

And as they say seeing is believing and nothing better than to experience a model/principle/theory that focuses heavily on experiential learning!!

#alightbulbmoment

 


Delving further

70:20:10 model for learning and development was pioneered by McCall, Lombardo and Eichinger and it emphasised that learning happens:

  • 70% from tough jobs 
  • 20% from people (mostly the boss)
  • 10% from courses and reading


70:20:10 has since then evolved to provide a framework for improving and extending traditional training and learning into the workplace.

This diagram provides a succinct overview of what the model has progressed to:

 


Changing course

So what does this mean for us Learning Professionals? Simply put, it urges us to create solutions that provide a continuous learning environment (learning that never stops).

 

We are frequently designing practice-based activities, scenarios for group work and incorporating elements of collaborative learning within the instructor-led and digital learning environment. The test though is to find a balance and integrate the elements of the model in a seamless manner. It should leave the learner with a memorable and pleasant learning experience. It should not be a cumbersome set of activities that do not fit within the learning programme.

 


Some thoughts on how we could apply the framework:

  • Inclusion of a face-to-face workshop in a blended learning design accounts for the social learning element, thus mixing the ‘20’ and the ‘10’ of the 70:20:10. By adding in an activity that is representative of their job in the workshop we are bringing in the ‘70’ and ‘20’ as well
  • If we are purely concentrating on the ‘10’ then we could combine that with a pre learning activity that involves peer reviews and discussions done via social media such as yammer or any preferred channel that the organisation adopts thus mixing the ‘10’ and ‘20’ of the 70:20:10

By always striving to make learning memorable and engaging, we could apply the framework and create a fun experience for the learner regardless of the content or target audience.


Pushing boundaries

70:20:10 model focuses on performance and extends learning into the workplace. Interestingly,the model urges us to move away from classroom and courses to on-the-job and social learning.

This causes a bit of a stir amongst the training purists who believe that a formal learning intervention is by far the best and most effective. While we all know that if done well, the best way to build core knowledge and skills is via a formal training. So without dismissing it completely I’ll argue that it’s not always the case.

70:20:10 model requires organisations to embrace informal learning and create an environment where learning happens all the time. So, the challenge is to push for a learning strategy based around this and inform our clients the benefits of informal and social learning. To highlight the importance of giving the learner the ability to pick and choose their learning in a way that works for them.

It’s important to remember that the 70:20:10 model should only be used as a reference framework. Eventually it will depend on the culture of an organisation - their take on experiential learning, their belief of an informal learning design structure and how open they are to new ideas and thoughts.

70:20:10 model places maximum weightage on informal learning and learning via experiences. This is further backed by research which stresses that informal and experiential learning provide far greater learner engagement and retention.

However, since it’s difficult to manage and track informal learning, we could in our proposals suggest solutions which will incorporate activities that support informal learning. As learning specialists it’s our role to design learning that’s novel, improves performance and helps the business to innovate and grow.

It’s important to remember that the 70:20:10 model should only be used as a reference framework. Eventually it will depend on the culture of an organisation - their take on experiential learning, their belief of an informal learning design structure and how open they are to new ideas and thoughts.

70:20:10 model requires organisations to embrace informal learning and create an environment where learning happens all the time. So, the challenge is to push for a learning strategy based around this and inform our clients the benefits of informal and social learning. To highlight the importance of giving the learner the ability to pick and choose their learning in a way that works for them.


So, moving forward…

I think if we are conscious of making learning a wholesome experience for the end user and continue to design learning that is simple, yet engaging, we will cover some of the percentages of this model. However, by encouraging our clients to think beyond formal instruction and arguing a case for an informal, continuous and performance driven learning strategy is what will set us apart.

Just like any new technology or theory that emerges within the L&D world, there are always two options - play safe and delay applying it or think ahead and embrace it. Once we realise the benefits of a continuous learning environment and assimilate the elements we can make 70:20:10 model a practicing reality.

#thechoiceisours


About the author

Trina Sarkar-Mohapatra is a Senior Learning Designer with over 10 years’ of experience in learning design and development. She started her career in animation before moving into learning and development. She has led and designed blended learning solutions and digital content while working for a variety of clients in financial services, business consultancy and education.

At GP Strategies Limited - Learning Solutions, UK, Trina leads the learning design and development function. She designs instructor-led and digital learning content and is also responsible for recommending learning solutions for clients across a range of industry sectors.

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