70:20:10 – Haute couture or ready to wear?
Someone told me the other day that 70:20:10 is just the current fashion. Indeed, these days, L&D is considered underdressed if it is not wearing the 70:20:10 label.
Most people in L&D tell me they are ‘using’ 70:20:10 or ‘implementing’ it, or that it underpins their L&D strategy, or that they aspire to use it. It is as though they need to embrace this fashion bandwagon in order to be considered modern and relevant.
I have no problem with this. I hope the fashion lasts long enough to leave a lasting legacy of change in the way L&D operates. The principles underlying 70:20:10 are useful and powerful, but the problem is that people are getting mixed up with the fashion one sees on the catwalk, and the practical clothes we wear every day as we go about our business.
How many times have you looked at some impossibly elegant ensemble on the catwalk and marvelled at the style and flow and beauty, while knowing full well that it would be utterly impossible to wear to work, or even to your annual gala ball? We could consider haute couture: hand made to fit a single person perfectly (budget irrelevant). That is still not within the reach of most of us, and so we are stuck with the ready to wear collections, and what we can buy off the peg at our local mall.
Most people I speak with struggle to figure out how to execute this model. In their mind they see the catwalk version and don’t know how to translate this into everyday wear.
I will let you into a secret. You are already wearing clothes every day. At least I assume so or you would have been arrested by now! You wear different clothes for the occasion, but they are all everyday clothes.
Like wearing clothes every day, 70:20:10 is always happening. There is nothing you need to do to ‘implement', just remember where the model springs from. The research asked people how they had learnt what they knew to do their jobs, 70:20:10 is already going on in your organisation.
So when someone asks, as they frequently do, ‘how do I get the 70 per cent running?’ they have missed the point. It is already running. When they ask ‘how do I add 70:20 learning to this training course?’ they have missed the point. There will be 70 and 20 informal learning activity during the training course, whatever they do. However, many people misunderstand the model and its implications.
The framework simply tells us that ALREADY, without ANY intervention from us in L&D, a LOT of workplace learning is happening experientially and socially. Quite how much and in what proportions is a rather pointless debate, so get over the numbers. They are not a recipe or an ideal. In a sense, the numbers are the catwalk version of 70:20:10, there to stimulate the mind and trigger ideas that can be incorporated into our everyday learning work wear.
How can we change our everyday learning to make it better, easier, more comfortable, more efficient, and more attractive?
That is the better question that should arise from considering the 70:20:10 model.
About the author
Paul Matthews is the founder of People Alchemy and expert in workplace learning, especially informal learning, as well as management development and employee performance improvement.