Is the 70:20:10 model still vital for L&D?

by Brett Henebery31 May 2017
The essence of the 70:20:10 framework is that learning occurs through a range of approaches, being roughly: 70% from on-the-job experiences, 20% from feedback and observation, and 10% from formal training, such as classes or courses.
While there are differing views regarding the value of the model to L&D, a new report, co-authored by Towards Maturity and Charles Jennings, provides fresh evidence looking at the actions behind the numbers and the impact on performance.
“In the Towards Maturity Learning Landscape, we ask workers themselves how they learn what they need to do their job. We consistently find that social and collaborative learning are top of their list,” the report’s authors said.
“On average, 37% of workers find formal learning essential or very useful compared to social learning, where 90% cite working in collaboration with their team members as essential or very useful.”
Workers in this study find the job aids and checklists that assist them in their day-to-day work more essential/very useful than they do self-paced e-learning courses.
The report suggested that L&D needs to invest beyond the course to support the modern learner and embed learning into their day-to-day experience.
From anecdotal evidence and comments in the 2015 Benchmark research, many L&D leaders are consciously looking at the 70:20:10 model to help inform their approach.

On average, 47% of L&D leaders strongly agree that “Our approach is shaped by models that support learning directly in the flow of work – such as 70:20:10” (up from 42% last year).

This rises to 86% of organisations in the Top Deck, but falls to as low as 30% for those in manufacturing industries and 19% for those working in local government.

“When we compare those who say they are using new models with those who are not we find that they report greater impact on the business and on its staff, more benefits from technology enabled learning and fewer barriers to a modernised learning strategy,” the report’s authors said.

But according to some, the 70:20:10 model doesn’t exactly have a scientific basis and neither is it easy to pinpoint.

“There is no real scientific underpinning, but from experience it seems to be roughly right. It depends on the nature of the organisation,” Leadership thought leader, Nigel Paine, told L&D Professional.

“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 said that if you take leadership development, it’s important to see it not as an event, but as a process that might include formal engagement with learning.

However, he said the real learning then occurs when employees implement that and confront the implications within their job. This includes the things they might do differently and the conversations they have with their 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 every day.”

Related stories:
Is the 70:20:10 model a fad or something more?
Why blended learning approaches work