70:20:10 Learning models

Are business serious about 70:20:10 development? Or is it becoming a lazy way of reducing budgets while expecting already over stretched staff to take on increased responsibility for their own learning?

70:20:10 Development models seem to be gaining an increasing number of supporters in HR and L&D departments. The idea itself is great and one that we actively encourage our clients to adopt, 10% traditional or formal learning (courses, workshops, academic studies etc) 20% supported learning (usually limited to coaching and mentoring) and 70% on the job learning. The frustration we have with this model is in the way that some businesses are applying it. We are seeing organisations talk about the 20% and 70% with enthusiasm, yet in practice they are putting very little in place to facilitate it.

The following are seven practical things that we suggest if you are serious about implementing a successful blended 70:20:10 learning and development strategy.

The '70' element

There are 4 vital aspects of on the job learning, or ‘action learning’. Action learning is an educational process where the participant studies their own actions and experience in order to improve performance. It is learning acquired knowledge through actual actions and repetitions, rather than through traditional instruction. It is particularly suitable for adults as it enables each person to reflect on and review the action they have taken and the learning points arising. This should then guide future action and improve performance.

Reg Revans summed up the action learning set process in the following formula:
Learning (L) = Programmed Knowledge (P) + Insightful questioning (Q) 

Programmed knowledge is the knowledge from books combined with what we have been told to do in a particular job. It also refers to our own acquired personal knowledge. Both of these need to be questioned. Questioning asks what aspect of that knowledge is useful and relevant here and now. It is also a way of saying 'I do not know'. Learning results from the combination of P & Q.

Action learning sets (groups of learners) can be engaged at any time but we advocate that the following 5 concepts are required to support the '70' component of on the job learning. 

1. A learning culture is facilitated through the use of formal performance management processes

Organisations that are successful in creating a learning culture take care to embed learning into the formal routines, rituals and processes of the organisation. Learning needs to be positioned as an organisational value which cascades down into the day to day practices of the business. Tangibly this means that every individual must have (in addition to their operational objectives), specific and personal learning objectives which are to be attained. These learning objectives must have equal weighting with the business oriented goals individuals are tasked with in the normal business cycle. If performance related pay is part of the existing performance management process then reward should equally be linked to changes in learnt behaviours.

2. The '70' compoenent - on the job learning, requires a consistent long term marketing strategy.

A true learning culture does not come about by chance. Like any good product, consumers need to be constantly reminded of it’s availability. Individuals therefore need to be frequently reminded that learning is a constant and continuous goal. The design and implementation of an internal L&D marketing strategy is core to the '70' component of on the job learning, ensuring that learning is constantly ‘front of mind’ instead of ‘bottom of draw’. Both traditional and social media should be used to create interest, enthusiasm and deliver a drip feed of learning content.

3. Supporting resources.

Providing a mobile workforce with powerful sound bites of learning gives users access at the point of need. A rich library of self help learning materials can be tailored and made available to staff to support the learning experience. Using reading materials, podcasts and vidcasts provides highly accessible training materials for those on the move, enabling a significantly higher number of touch points with the learning content. The goal should be to create a 'kit of parts' enabling learners to consume learning whenever, however and on whatever they choose. 

4. Utilisation of formal assignments:

Personal assignments requiring research and a formal documented conclusions remain an effective route to individual '70' on the job learning.

The 20 element

By providing the learner with multiple touch points with experts, we are able to enhance the depth of understanding attained and spread domain best practice. Our approach to this involves two concepts:

5. Formal Mentoring (directional input)

By establishing a formal developmental mentoring programme learners are provided support from acknowledged (Internal or external) experts. Training for mentors and mentees should be provided to establish effective mentoring behaviours where:
Two way learning is encouraged
The power and authority of the mentor are ‘parked’
Mentors helps mentees decide what they want and plan how to achieve it
Begins with an ending in mind Built on learning opportunities and friendship
Most common form of help is stimulating insight
Mentor may be peer or even junior - It is experience that counts

6. Informal coaching (non directional input):

Alongside a formal mentoring structure the organisation should implement an informal coaching culture that simply becomes “the way we work around here”. Understanding the concepts of a non directional coaching needs to be taught and embedded into daily practice. Social learning is perhaps the most important tool in achiving an effective learning culture.

7. Access to Short on demand learning interventions:

Learning applied at the point it is needed helps to facilitate immediate adoption and behavioural change. By providing access to bite-sized education in practical techniques we become more effective and we get more out the resources we have. For example we offer two solutions to deliver this demand lead learning:

120 minutes of high impact education:

Short focused workshops lasting just 120 minutes, or sessions like our lunch and learn 60 minute interventions provide frequent but manageable sized learning opportunies.

Virtual Classroom:

Live training, carried out online. Using for example Adobe Acrobat Connect™ you can do all those things you do in a traditional face to face workshop. Input content, discuss ideas with the group, breakout into small groups, work on exercises, and come back to share plenary findings. This is an incredibly cost effective way of delivery training to dispersed workforces, and a great way supporting other blended learning interventions. Blended learning refers to a type of learning that combines multiple delivery methods throughout the learning process. The 70:20:10 model is an ideal way to structure those different intervention methods. Today more methods of delivering learning exist than ever before, and successful blended learning maximises the use of all possible delivery methods. It is true that some users experience of blended learning has been disappointing, disjointed and a cobbled together blend of different solutions. Learners are left feeling that they are enrolled on a number of separate learning interventions not one continuous programme delivered through a variety of methods.

A totally integrated 70:20:10 blended learning solution will have multiple delivery methods with one continuous stream of learning. Done well this model is a great guide for bringing about change and improvement through learning and development. Remember that the 20% means twice as much learning as the traditional solutions and 70% means seven times as much learning! That will only happen if HR and L&D teams help facilitate it through ideas and efforts such as those outlined in this piece.