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Home » Knowledge Hub » Business Alchemists Blog » 70:20:10 – Top 5 watchwords from the business alchemist
70:20:10 – Top 5 watchwords from the business alchemist

Being “a learning organisation” is very much in vogue and commentary abounds on how a learning culture will help organisations keep pace with increasingly fast-paced change. However, learning organisations require individuals who wish to participate in learning – it is not just the organisation as a whole that needs to learn.

A model or framework often quoted in relation to developing a learning culture is 70:20:10. What might sound like a set of very unusual vital statistics is in fact a ratio commonly applied to optimal learning and development. The numbers check out as follows.

  • 70 = job related or “hands on” experience (learning from feedback on everyday tasks)
  • 20 = interactions learning from others (learning from peer conversations and coaching/mentoring)  
  • 10 = formal educational events (learning from attending training courses) 

Of course, the ratio means nothing if feedback, coaching or training is not acted upon and no learning takes place. Let’s assume though that you have the inclination, support and the time to undertake some learning. Taking on board the 70:20:10 approach to learning requires further considerations:

  1. Firstly, learning doesn’t happen through one mode in isolation. It is never a case of learning purely in a classroom, on the job or through colleagues. It is the integrated mix that is important. A useful analogy is making a cup of coffee. This requires water, milk and the coffee granules to be added in sensible proportions otherwise you can end up with some vaguely coffee-ish liquid that no one wants to drink (or the ‘mud’ sometimes served in restaurants).
  2. On the job learning needs to be considered carefully, designed with some thought and structured (some L&D practitioners use the delightful word “scaffolding” to describe framing on the job learning). Essentially, on-the-job learning needs to have some purpose and order. Deliberate practice (a term widely used in sporting development circles) is a good way of thinking about this. 
  3. Learners must be engaged with their own learning. Learners should be motivated and have clarity on how the learning fits with their personal and organisational goals. Put simply, they need to be able to answer the question “why am I doing this?” and do so positively.
  4. There must be awareness that un-learning and re-learning might need to take place for some people. If learning and development hasn’t happened for a few years there might be quite a few unhelpful habits to undo.
  5. The right medium for learning needs consideration. For example, developing personal skills may be best achieved in some situations through face to face contact rather than through reading a manual. Factors to consider include the topic and the learning style of the learner.
  6. Reflection is always important. The most effective way to assimilate learning is to think it through and reflect on what it means and how it might be applied.

These thoughts originated from several insights offered by an L&D advisory company. I listened to their half hour webinar whilst sat in my car waiting for a meeting; part of my learning for that day. The webinar offered some ideas that I have reflected on from both my personal and professional viewpoints.   

Click here to listen to the webinar

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