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James Eynon


Learning Officer

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70:20:10 – is there any point in training?


What on earth does 70:20:10 mean? Expedition Organiser James Eynon delves in to the controversial model and asks whether it means training courses are not as useful as many people think…


I spent some time catching up with industry forums this morning, and I noticed that many people have written about 70:20:10. Interested to learn more, I decided to read up about the concept, starting with what the numbers represent…



70:20:10? Is that a 24-hour clock that hasn’t reset?


Good question, but apparently not. 70:20:10 is a model that suggests workplace learning is split into three areas. 70% of learning comes from challenging assignments (i.e. learning from workplace experiences). 20% comes from collaborating and interacting with peers (i.e. collaborative activities). 10% comes from training workshops and courses. And I didn’t think I’d say this, but I agree.



That’s ridiculous; have you been drinking?!


It’s not ridiculous, and that’s not the point. Some have discredited the model, but further research studies have corroborated the findings.

One of those studies (as detailed in an article on People Management) is by business transformation consultancy Towards Maturity, who found that “learners that keep to the ratio…will be much better equipped”. Their research showed that “staff following this model were four times more likely to demonstrate a faster response to business change (30 per cent vs 7 per cent) [and] were three times more motivated (27 per cent vs 8 per cent)”.



Really? I guess it’s time to cancel all my training courses then.


Woah, slow down there. I think the 70:20:10 model is misunderstood. As Andrew Jefferson and Roy Pollock state in their article “70:20:10: Where Is the Evidence?”, “learning professionals need to keep in mind that the 70:20:10 concept is a…theoretical model…it is [not] a scientific fact”. Too many people take the numbers literally. The model is an opportunity to think differently about training, and what you can do to improve it.

We all know that we learn by doing, that’s why (as explained in my previous blog) if a footballer wants to get better at penalties then they take penalties repeatedly. Whether it’s 70:20:10 or 49:35:16, the model is a reminder that you need to be effective in your use of time for training programmes. That time needs to be spent giving learners the keys to unlock their own learning.




So what will make my training courses effective?


As much as anything else, training workshops and courses should be teaching learning skills. The ‘70%’ is learning completed in an informal environment – a trained facilitator or manager won’t be there with you all the time – so as L&D professionals we need to empower people to facilitate their own learning outside of the classroom.

The Center for Creative Leadership say the ‘10 and 20%’, if created and implemented effectively, have an ‘amplifier effect’. Do your training programme modules include the right tools and “experiential practice”? If so you will create effective learners. This is exactly why I chose to work with Expedite Learning. The focus is on dynamic interactions – getting people to practice behaviours through collaborative activities which create a series of actions and reactions that create a plethora of learning opportunities.



It’s all about changing mindsets, then?


Absolutely. The final words, I feel, should go to Jo Ayoubi (CEO of Track Surveys Ltd) who wrote a great article here on Training Zone and really hit the nail on the head about what training sessions should be about.

“Instead of worrying too much about the details of the 70:20:10 model, we [should] bring value in several key areas:

– Creating a mindset in our organisation that focuses on goal-setting, feedback and reflection. If we can get this into as many workplace conversations as we can, we can support informal learning. This makes it both more effective and more motivating.

– By training managers and their teams in the skills of feedback and goal setting. Helping them to build reflection into their daily conversations and meetings.”

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James Eynon

Learning Officer

Read more from James Eynon

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