Finding the Best Mix in Training Methods

You and your team members want to be good at your jobs, so you want to learn – and keep on learning. But how do you learn most effectively?

We're all familiar with classroom-based training. But there are other, sometimes more effective, ways to learn. With the 70:20:10 model of learning, formal courses make up the smallest proportion of learning time – just 10 percent.

This article explores the 70:20:10 model and the advantages and challenges of applying it. We then suggest some practical ways for you and your team to embrace learning outside of the classroom, and how to blend this with more traditional training.

Optimal learning relies on a careful balance of training styles.

What Is 70:20:10?

According to the 70:20:10 Forum, the model describes an ideal balance between different ways of learning and developing in the workplace:

  • 70 percent by "Experience," through day-to-day tasks, challenges and practice.
  • 20 percent by "Exposure," through social learning, in person or online.
  • 10 percent by "Education," through formal learning including courses.

It grew from the work of Professor Allen Tough in the 1960s and 70s, Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger at the Center for Creative Leadership in the 80s, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in the 90s. All three found that learning outside of formal courses, especially unprompted "self-directed" learning, was both common and effective. Yet most employers had given it little or no value, recognition or support.

Despite its mathematical title, 70:20:10 is not a formula for certain success to be followed precisely, but a pointer to the kind of weight to give to each area. The purpose of the model is to encourage leaders, managers and their team members to see learning and development (L&D) as a core part of their everyday roles, not an optional add-on or something that only the L&D department does.

At the same time, 70:20:10 doesn't mean that organizations should abandon their formal training programs. Instead, they can redesign them so that employees reach their development goals through a blend of methods, and with the help of their managers and co-workers.


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