What is 70:20:10 all about?

While there is a lack of certainty about the origin of the learning model 70:20:10, it is thought to be developed by Morgan McCall, Robert W. Eichinger, and Michael M. Lombardo at the Center for Creative Leadership. The model is specifically mentioned in the book The Career Architect Development Planner, published in 1996.


Despite the lack of empirical evidence and agreement on its origin, it cannot be denied that the 70:20:10 model of learning and development has gained significant momentum. Organizations are increasingly endorsing the principles that learning takes place through a combination of formal and informal situations. 

So what is the 70:20:10 model? 

70% of the learning is informal, takes place on the job, and is experience and practice based.

20% of the learning is social, happening with and through other people.

10% of the learning is formal and happens through structured courses and sessions.

Does it work?

Organizations need some framework to support its learning and development activities to ensure the growth of its employees and to, in turn, achieve success in their business. A report published by Docebo proposes that organizations looking to support learning directly in the flow of work are more likely to report business benefits than those who are not. They also report even greater benefits across these five areas:

48% report benefits related to changing culture.

56% report their organizations are more responsive and agile.

63% report improved productivity.

73% report improved process.

72% report improved efficiency as a result.

Organizations are clearly going further than just embracing new models of learning. Thus, 70:20:10 is doing a good of achieving learning in a better way, and it has proved to be a learning framework to track and assess the success of learners.

Applying 70:20:10 to eLearning

Baby boomers are going to retire. Soon millennials or generation Y are going to replace them in key roles. Organizations will miss out on a generation of knowledge and skills that will be irrevocably lost once they leave. This will cost manufacturing companies a massive amount of time and money in the form of lost expertise. Organizations should capture all that knowledge and convert it into eLearning courses with help from baby boomers.

These tools, if used correctly, can work with this transitioning generation and capture a wealth of knowledge. You could then embed much of this information (real life knowledge and experience) into the corporate knowledge base and, depending upon organizational need, formalize it into learning programs.

The 70% section consists of traditional training methods like on-the-job training or apprenticeships, and may take some time to complete. The new workforce may make mistakes while working on their own and many may become frustrated and quit during their training. Moreover, a long training cycle with limited return is very costly. But with new learning technologies, there is a big change to the 70% hands-on training section, offering a more focused and practical way to bring new employees up to speed. eLearning courses support such learning. New online courses are now built to be interactive with lot of videos and animations. The employee works through actual scenarios that simulate work situations. eLearning courses provide learning in less time and are cheaper.

In addition to this, the 20% section can be done with live, interactive virtual sessions, community discussions, and in larger peer groups. And the last 10% section has to be through instructor-led training organized in a more structured manner.

Learning and development models may vary for organizations. Some framework may work best for one organization and it may not work for another. After all, it is the concept behind this model that matters most: recognize that learners are flexible and learn from many different experiences.

Hence, learning should be in the medium of the learners’ choice and this concept helps achieve just that. 

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