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Intelligent learning strategies: The 70:20:10 model

Just two decades ago, it was impossible to offer personalized training to every employee and unthinkable to put together an individual training program for each employee. It was therefore difficult for companies to train individual employees in a targeted manner in order to solve complex problems.

Today, learning has been digitized and thus democratized and personalized. Through digital learning, competences can be acquired individually. This enables employees to react fast and competently to complex challenges.


Theory or practice?

When developing your learning strategy to manage the increased complexity, ask yourself the  question: “How do you actually want the training to take place?” Do you want to offer theory or practice? If so, in what proportion? And if learning can be provided personalized, how should the portion look like for each employee?

According to the 70:20:10 learning model, the ideal ratio is what matters. This model has been around since the 1980s. In the 70:20:10 learning model, employees acquire skills in three ways. The model assumes that 70% of learning takes place through on-the-job experiences. This is mainly through completing tasks and the associated learning effects, such as making mistakes and correcting them.

Employees also learn by asking others, working with a coach or mentor, and through social learning. This comprises 20% of this model. 10% of the skills are learned by employees outside their workplace through classroom training or elearning.

The 70:20:10 model is designed to help L&D and talent professionals promote learning outside of formal offerings. Especially with complex problems that require independent thinking and constant  adaptation, it is important to create a learning environment that promotes informal knowledge transfer.


The 70:20:10 model

The 70:20:10 learning and development model is well known in the training industry. It describes the best sources of learning for successful employees. Individuals acquire 70% of their knowledge through work-related experiences (on-the-job), 20% from interactions with others (mentoring) and 10% from formal educational activities (learning courses and content).

The model is particularly suitable as a general guide for companies that want to improve the efficiency of their staff development through additional activities and inputs. The concept is proven worldwide.

The 70:20:10 model can be tailored to your company’s needs. Based on the current programs, you can use your company’s human resources structure to improve your internal knowledge, methods and skills.

Learning Pool supports you in implementing the 70:20:10 model for training, staff development and mentoring. Learning Pool offers personalized development recommendations for each employee. This includes training courses, mentoring programs and on-the-job opportunities such as projects, assignments or moving to a new role. This ensures that your employees are developed in the most effective way.

The 70:20:10 approach has been widely discussed in the learning and development community. On one hand it was criticized for the split and the variations in different cultures, geographies and between employees and executives. The numbers came from a small study by the Centre of Creative Leadership in 1980. Bob Eichinger and Mike Lombardo, working with the Centre for Creative Leadership at the time, consolidated and reduced these to the three categories. On the other hand, the 70:20:10 approach requests a proper implementation and integration of the three learning categories. Despite the objections, the approach is widespread and often referenced today. Experts still hold to the general proposition that most learning occurs in the workplace, through work or via other people. And have become the connecting element between the categories. It remains an established guide to ensure that L&D focusses on more than just courses when considering how people learn.


Guided versus self-guided training?

Many companies struggle to actively manage the change at the pace of the business. It is necessary to derive tasks and roles from strategies and initiatives which are to be carried out and the skills required to do this successfully.

The harder part is to develop the workforce in a most efficient and targeted manner for the future. L&D is not able to take every employee at hand and provide career advice on how to get from A to B. Also for managers it is difficult to determine which team member has the highest potential as well as ambition and interest to develop specific required skills, especially if the scope is outside their own area of responsibility. As a result, more companies transfer the responsibility for personal development towards the employee, asking them to detect skills gaps, development priorities and defining career goals. And in order to enable them, companies invest a lot in providing automated career and development advice using AI.

Find out more about the complexity of the modern workplace and why skills matter here.

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