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How to create and implement 70:20:10 development plan

70:20:10 learning model explains how we learn in the workplace and covers 3 different learner avenues of learning and development. In this article, we will talk about how to create a development plan and apply the model.

Kasper Spiro
70-20-10 in practice

According to the 70:20:10 model for learning and development, we know exactly how the majority of learning in the workplace is made up:

  • 70% – experiential learning – skills are learned and developed simply by doing the job on a day-to-day basis.
  • 20% – social learning – skills can be attained by working with others and collaborating with colleagues.
  • 10% – formal learning – skills are learned in a formal setting such as a training course.

There are actually two 70:20:10 models that businesses use – one for management innovation and another for learning and development. In this article, we will be focusing on the learning and development model developed by McCall, Lombardo, and Morrison in the 1980s. Check out some other 70:20:10 rules.

The 5 steps to create a 70-20-10 development plan

Like other learning models, 70:20:10 too requires you to come up with a development plan that essentially lays out the plan of action to actualize it in the business. Let’s start with the obvious business pieces before jumping into how to implement 70 20 10 learning model. We have listed a few reflective questions in each of the pieces to consider while making a decision:

  1. Alignment with Business goals: Where does 70-20-10 fit into your current L&D Strategy? How will 70:20:10 support your overall business objectives?
  2. Stakeholder Management: Who do you need to get on board? Who will potentially put up barriers?
  3. Money/ROI: What resources/budget/timescales are required to execute the model? What are the payoff and benefits for specific departments in which the idea is piloted?
  4. 70-20-10 break up: L&D and employee’s roles, tooling, etc.
  5. Measurement: How do you know if this intervention is effective and is improving employee performance? NPS, Surveys, Obvious business benefits like decreased errors, increased sales, etc.

How to implement 70/20/10 easily

Empower the 70% – Experiential Learning

Performance support is the key enabler for this largest section and this involves employees referencing something whilst on the job. In truth, there are some things that you can do to enhance this particular section.
The obvious starting point is to broaden employees’ roles and empower them to experiment with newer problem-solving methods.

Secondly, you have to ensure that you provide the right learning management tools in place. Also, you may also see the benefit after making various tools and resources available on mobile. If you have this in place, you will be utilizing this 70% and allowing your employees to learn and develop skills at an efficient rate. Here’s an extensive guide on how employees in enterprises like Nielsen encourage experimental learning.

Enable the 20% – Social Learning

Naturally, employees will discuss work and help each other so you don’t necessarily have to force anything out of the ordinary. With this being said, there are ways in which you can encourage it by fostering the right atmosphere within your business and by selecting a learning management system that allows for knowledge sharing. For instance, implement coaching and mentoring to connect colleagues and allow a more-experienced person to guide the less-experienced worker.

Learn how to implement 70:20:10 framework with Employee-generated-learning.

Unlock a culture of knowledge sharing

Speed up the circulation of knowledge in your organization by enabling employees to create content themselves.

Ensure the 10% – Formal Learning

Finally, we have the smallest section in official training. When assessing the 70:20:10 learning model, many believe that it is trying to dissuade people from using training courses and the like but this simply isn’t true. With just 10%, it doesn’t mean that there should be no training at all, it suggests that there should be more of a focus on the quality of training rather than quantity.

Continue with the structured formats and be judicious of the resources spent on the topics. For instance, spend wisely on off-the-shelf learning courses for business-critical issues that may not be tailored to your firm. Instead, invest in the right knowledge sharing or content authoring tool that allows your employees to build the internal knowledge pool.

The model is progressive yet not without criticism of not having enough empirical data. Nonetheless, according to a research study by Towards Maturity, organizations that implement 70:20:10 model observe the below benefits:

  • 5x as likely to be able to attract talent
  • 4x as likely to respond fast to business change
  • 3x as likely to report improvements in staff motivation
  • 2x as likely to report an increase in customer satisfaction


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About the author

Kasper Spiro is the Co-founder and Chief learning strategist of Easygenerator and a recognized thought leader in the world of e-learning. With over 30 years of experience, he is a frequently asked keynote speaker and well-renowned blogger within the e-learning community.

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