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70-20-10 learning model

70-20-10 learning model

What is the 70-20-10 learning model?

The 70-20-10 learning model represents an approach to learning and development to gain direct experience and knowledge by interacting with others. The methodology and its definition were developed in the 1980s based on the expertise of 200 successful managers. To date, it is most commonly used by organizations as a method of corporate employee training. As a result, it is considered part of the office culture.

The 70-20-10 rule

The 70-20-10 principle of learning means that some can gain 70% of their knowledge from their job, 20% from their interactions with others and just 10% from educational activities (courses, programs, and training sessions).

According to Lombardo and Morrison, who are the founders of this methodology, it is a practice that enables employees to increase their productivity by enhancing and developing skills under "field" conditions. Unlike learning skills in a different, more convenient environment (such as in a classroom), skills honed through practice will not be forgotten over time and can deliver more results. This also allows employees to receive instant feedback on the quality of their work and skills, helping them stay motivated and committed for much longer.

Employees also gain 20% of their knowledge from activities based on their social interactions. For example, from coaching, mentoring or group activities. The value of this training component also lies in the feedback and encouragement from public approval that the employee perceives after mastering the skill.

On the other hand, traditional educational courses generate a minimal increase in productivity, which frequently becomes the cause of disagreements between supporters of the 70-20-10 model of learning and academics.

Criticism of the 70-20-10 model

Despite the high performance and popularity of the 70-20-10 formula worldwide, some would point out its costs and disadvantages. Frequently, they include:

  • A lack of empirical information

As part of their study, McCall, Lombardo, and Morrison asked 200 top executives to name three events in their careers that changed their approach to work and enabled them to take a leap forward. However, the criticism of the 70-20-10 model is based on the fact that the survey could not be considered a trusted source of information due to its subjectivity and a lack of regard for external factors. People are suspicious of the fact that they interviewed managers who were already successful.

  • Excessive severity of interest

For example, training expert Will Thalheimer considers it impossible to accurately distribute the proposed ratio in real life. Also, a person can find 70% of practice and 10% of activities draining. Therefore, this training model cannot be considered prevalent and needs to be constantly adjusted.

  • Increased risk of errors

Since 70% of employees' development is based on practical activities, they can make mistakes at work because their work is a learning experience. This can be damaging to the business and create confusion in the workplace if there is an absence of external control.

The 70-20-10 development plan

The 70-20-10 development plan

The 70-20-10 development plan is particularly popular with corporate training professionals because it requires far fewer external resources than developing theoretical material and enables all employees, from beginners to professionals, to be involved in the training process. In addition, we offer you a ready-made plan for introducing this methodology into the corporate culture of any business.

How to implement the 70-20-10 rule

Step 1. Evaluate your current training resources and learning systems

If your business already has its own approach to learning, you need to "improve" it. To achieve this, answer the following questions:

  • How is training actually going in your organization right now?

  • How much time, money and other resources are spent using the training resources (if you are using official sources)?

  • Are there managers in your company willing to spend time developing their teams?

  • What learning barriers do your employees currently face?

  • How do they evaluate the current training system? What requests do they have?

  • How does the productivity and quality of your employee's work change after finishing training? How can you measure their effectiveness and results?

Once you have the answers to all these questions, consider how they fit into your business goals, and start working on a new system that utilizes all the pros of the old one.

Step 2. Create a new strategy

Once you figure out what your employees need to improve their performance, link it to your company goals. This will help you determine how to implement the 70-20-10 rule. For example, suppose your business intends to improve the skills of managers in project management and the time it takes them to complete their tasks. In that case, a 70-20-10 plan might look something like this:

  • Your goal is to improve the skills of project managers

  • The deadline is 6 months

  • The type of training will be on-the-job

  • 70% of training will include conducting independent projects. Required budget: $2,000.

  • 20% of training is for those project managers who demonstrate the highest outcomes in business. Necessary funding: $0 (all part of mentoring).

  • 10% of training includes weekend courses, one course per month. The budget needed: $450.

This template should also be tailored for each employee with individual needs and abilities. For example, some may require more time to master a new skill or practice, particularly under a mentor's supervision. Conversely, however, they may require fewer training courses.

Step 3. Choose the right technological equipment and innovation

When you work with the 70-20-10 methodology, a lot depends on the quality of the selected technical solutions. Please note that you should not use multiple platforms simultaneously, as switching between them reduces the student's cognitive function. For example, memorizing the material could become difficult, and they could see a drop in the level of their concentration and involvement. Therefore, limiting yourself to 2-3 of the most important tools is better.

The following tools are frequently used to implement the 70-20-10 rule:

  • Learning Management System (LMS). These systems help track your employees' progress and manage their learning experiences. Ensure the LMS you choose supports integration with Teams or the services your employees use daily. It is also helpful if the LMS could notify employees about educational tasks by email and help keep them motivated (for example, by displaying employee performance ratings).

  • Project management tools. Trello, Monday, or Asana are the most commonly used, but you can pick any others. Most importantly, they should be easy to use and provide maximum transparency for all participants in corporate training.

  • Feedback services. Any messaging app also works, including those that employees usually use for informal communication (such as Telegram). These applications make the learning process more convenient and allow management to track the performance of 70-20-10 in real time and evaluate the results.

  • Content creation tools. These tools may be required when developing your own educational courses, for example, to make them interactive, add infographics or film educational videos. But, again, investing in the most intelligible tool for your employees is best.

70-20-10 learning model examples

70-20-10 learning model examples

Follow the 70-20-10 rule to produce your finest work. To do this, you do not need to completely overhaul your entire corporate training system. For example, 70% of training (focused on real work) could be the following:

  • Replace another manager for the day or take over part of their duties

  • Volunteer to take part in task delegation

  • Be proactive when assigning projects

  • Participate in official events

  • Volunteer to speak on a topic you are not familiar with

  • Become a mentor for someone else

Similarly, 20% of learning (development with the help of other people) could include:

  • Hiring a personal mentor for an additional fee

  • Asking clients and colleagues for feedback on your work

  • Sharing your experiences at business events and conferences

  • Working in pairs with a colleague and discussing the results with them

  • Attending training seminars and master classes (offline only!)

  • Engaging in research within your department

  • Seeking advice from a senior manager

  • Asking your manager to teach you something that you were unable to do before

Likewise, 10% of training is implemented through established ways:

  • Take an online course that will help you improve your skills

  • Watch video lectures on YouTube and attend webinars

  • Improve your skills and obtain the relevant certificates

  • Participate in team-building activities and corporate competitions

70-20-10 in a Lectera course

70-20-10 in a Lectera course

You can also choose an online course based on the principles of the 70-20-10 methodology. For example, Lectera's comprehensive 17-course "Sales Manager" program is a complete corporate education training package from scratch for employees.

70% of the training is carried out without disturbing the student's main activities. Thanks to a collection of real-life cases and practical tools, the student can apply the knowledge gained immediately at work from the first day of training. All the tools discussed in the course are helpful and accessible. The video tutorials aim, first and foremost, to help them understand how to use them right away, sitting in their office chair. In addition, 20% of mentoring is achieved through the proposed methods of the creators, and they are produced by our experts based on their experience. Finally, 10% are short video lessons and text files, which you can use to revise the material anytime.

Therefore, all Lectera courses are suitable for corporate training within the 70-20-10 training framework. For example, "Management During Crises" is recommended for learning as part of a team, and "Develop and Apply Charisma" helps accelerate career development.