A golden ratio? A quick look at the 70:20:10 model

The 70:20:10 model suggests that effective learning can be achieved using a mix of different sources: 70% from job-related experiences, 20% from interactions with others and 10% from formal training. It was initially based on research that looked into how successful managers learn but has since been adopted for the wider workforce. 

It comes from the idea a great deal of what we learn is informal – and while formal learning is important, it’s almost impossible to teach employees everything they need to know in the classroom or through an eLearning module. 

However, it shouldn’t be seen as a prescriptive model, rather a general guideline that can be adapted depending on the company, the industry or even the learners themselves. For example, medical professionals and accountants may need to do more formal learning upfront, but they’ll still come across things they don’t know while working, so asking a colleague for help, or doing a bit of research will come into play. 

Adopting the 70:20:10 model isn’t about abandoning formal training altogether; it should be about refocusing our efforts. So, supporting or encouraging learning where it happens naturally, rather than trying to squeeze everything into a formal session. Let’s have a look at some examples of where learning happens: 

On-the job learningSocial learningFormal training
Research Meetings / conference calls Face-to-face sessions 
Articles / blogs Asking subject matter experts eLearning  
Videos  Coaching and mentoring  

It’s worth mentioning that as L&D techniques and technology evolve, the lines between these categories become blurred. Scenario-based learning, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality could be seen as formal training, but they offer the benefits of ‘experiential’ or on-the-job learning.  

There’s a time and a place for all types of learning – it’s ultimately about giving employees the right information and support when they need it.