70:20:10 says something ‘fundamentally important’: Expert

by L&D14 Sep 2016
If you think that the 70:20:10 model has a scientific basis and it is easy to pinpoint 70 + 20 + 10 = 100, you will be disappointed, said the leadership thought leader Nigel Paine.

“There is no real scientific underpinning, but from experience it seems to be roughly right. It depends on the nature of the organisation,” he said.

What 70:20:10 is saying is something fundamentally important and true, Paine added. That is, that most of the benefits from formal learning will come from doing things outside of those programs.

“You have to learn through your work and extend, reinforce and amplify the learning through informal communications with colleagues or people outside the organisation,” Paine told L&D Professional.

“If you take leadership development, it’s important to see it not as an event, but as a process.”

That process might include formal engagement with learning, such as having someone talk to you about concepts or sharing research with you.

But the real learning then occurs when you implement that and confront the implications within your job. This includes the things you do differently and the conversations you have with your boss as a result.

“I am 100% convinced that 70:20:10 has a lot to offer conceptually to help people think about learning in a different way,” he said.

“It’s common sense that you can’t possibly spend all of your life sitting in a classroom.

“You have to learn everyday. Today, you might have had a problem and asked somebody or worked it out yourself or looked it up on Google. The idea that you only learn when you are sitting in a classroom is arrant nonsense.

“In this kind of world you have to learn a lot to survive. And we do that mostly socially and informally, not formally.”

Paine also said that formal learning should not be taken lightly just because it’s the lowest number in the model.

“I have heard that companies have said to the learning leader: ‘If you say that formal learning is only 10% then let’s just get rid of it and stick with the 90%. I’m quite happy with the 90% and we will save a hell of a lot of money’.

“It’s a naïve misunderstanding and if you think about it for two seconds, it’s total nonsense.

“The point is that the 10% is the catalyst which triggers the rest, so you have got to see it as crucial, not as a minor part of the agenda.”

Nigel Paine is the author of the new book: Building Leadership Development Programmes: Zero Cost to High Investment Programmes that Work (Kogan Page). It is released at the end of September. He recently spoke at the ‘Leadership in an age of disruption’ event in Melbourne hosted by DeakinDigital and DeakinPrime.

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