What's the 70 20 10 Rule for Learning & Development? [Survey]

Know how to support effective blended learning experiences in your organization? In this post, we cover the growing popularity of the 70:20:10 model, which helps learning professionals focus on informal and social training activities.

The 70 20 10 Rule

What’s the last work-related task or concept you learned? How did you learn it? Chances are, it was from simply doing your job—whether it was finishing a task or using a piece of software for the first time. Or, maybe a peer or coworker taught you something. It would be quite rare, however, if it was delivered via formal training.

That’s the 70 20 10 theory. In other words, we gain knowledge through:

  • our workplace challenges and job experience (70%)
  • contact with other people, either face to face or online (20%)
  • formal training programs and structured content (10%)

While these percentages may vary, the point is that we learn most often by simply doing our jobs. The rest results from social interactions and formal learning. This model is relevant to informal learning because it tells us that opportunities are everywhere.

Small Study, Big Impact

There’s no denying that the 70 20 10 model has caused a stir in the L&D world, as it’s often a popular topic at conferences. And an increasing amount of products and solutions are being implemented based around this model.

Yet, it's based on a research project by the Center for Creative Leadership 20 years ago that asked 200 managers to self-report how they believed they learned. The model's success is likely due to the way it rings true for L&D professionals' own experiences.

But because the study was performed in 1996 and only involved a small sampling of participants, there's a need for more industry research. After all, if that one survey can have such a far-reaching impact on the training and development industry, just imagine the insight we could glean from robust, ongoing data about learning across our organizations. Without that data, we don’t even know what we don’t know.

Up Next: Blended Learning Trends

In our next post, we’ll discuss how the internet has become a significant resource for self-directed training and cover common misconceptions about the 70 20 10 principle.

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Curious where learners find information?

If you aren't already tracking how learners digest information, here's a simple way to get started. Use this three-question survey to pinpoint and better understand how employees find answers to their work-related questions outside of formal training.

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