Training Industry

The 70:20:10 Model for Learning and Development

  • The 70:20:10 Model for Learning and Development

The 70:20:10 Model for Learning and Development is a commonly used formula within the training profession to describe the optimal sources of learning by successful managers. It holds that individuals obtain 70 percent of their knowledge from job-related experiences, 20 percent from interactions with others, and 10 percent from formal educational events.

The model was created in the 1980s by three researchers and authors working with the Center for Creative Leadership, a nonprofit educational institution in Greensboro, N.C. The three, Morgan McCall, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert A. Eichinger, were researching the key developmental experiences of successful managers.

The 70:20:10 model is considered to be of greatest value as a general guideline for organizations seeking to maximize the effectiveness of their learning, and development programs through other activities and inputs. The model continues to be widely employed by organizations throughout the world.

The model’s creators hold that hands-on experience (the 70 percent) is the most beneficial for employees because it enables them to discover and refine their job-related skills, make decisions, address challenges and interact with influential people such as bosses and mentors within work settings. They also learn from their mistakes and receive immediate feedback on their performance.

Employees learn from others (the 20 percent) through a variety of activities that include social learning, coaching, mentoring, collaborative learning and other methods of interaction with peers. Encouragement and feedback are prime benefits of this valuable learning approach.

The formula holds that only 10 percent of professional development optimally comes from formal traditional courseware instruction and other educational events, a position that typically surprises practitioners from academic backgrounds.

How relevant is the 70:20:10 model in the Internet age?

The arrival of the Internet, and the current proliferation of online and mobile learning technologies, has altered the training industry’s views of the 70:20:10 model.  At the minimum, a growing chorus of training professionals contends that the aged model does not reflect the market’s fast-growing emphasis on informal learning.

One frequent observation is that while the model’s specific ratios do not reflect current learning opportunities, it remains generally consistent with the developmental experiences of many individuals. Thus, the model continues to serve as a valuable guideline on how to employ various developmental experiences. 

Written for TrainingIndustry.com

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