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% of their knowledge from job-related experiences, 20% from interactions with others, and 10% 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, North Carolina. The three, Morgan McCall, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert A. Eichinger, were researching the key developmental experiences of successful managers.

The 70-20-10 learning 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%) 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%) 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% of professional development optimally comes from formal traditional courseware instruction and other educational events, a position that typically surprises practitioners from academic backgrounds.

New Research on 70-20-10

The application of this model was the subject of recent research conducted by Training Industry. The research explored:

  • The updated balance among on-the-job, social and formal training.
  • Nuances that can alter the learning ratios for different types of employees, companies and countries.
  • How the model relates to strategic L&D efforts.

Learn more about this research report, “Updating 70-20-10 for the 21st Century,” here.

How Relevant is the 70-20-10 Learning Model in Today’s Workplace?

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 learning 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. In fact, recent research identified a new concept for talking about sources of learning called the OSF (on-the-job, social, formal) ratio. The OSF ratio can vary depending on the industry, organization and learners.

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