“Too many teachers see education as preparing kids for the past, not the future.”

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“Too many teachers see education as preparing kids for the past, not the future.” ~ Marc Prensky

“Virtually everything new seems to come from the 20 percent of their time engineers here are expected to spend on side projects.” ~ Eric Schmidt (Ex-CEO, Google Inc.)


Let us start with a few interesting facts that are inspiring as well!

  • Some of the most successful products from Google such as Google News, Google Earth, and Google Local were employee-initiated projects unrelated to its core business!
  • Coca Cola is highly successfully in its new content marketing strategy aimed at doubling consumption of Coke by the year 2020!

Today’s organizations expect employees to LEARN and INNOVATE at the ‘speed of business’! This is one of the most critical qualities that can help organizations succeed in rapidly changing business scenarios driven by disruptive technological advancements.

Many of the successful organizations that we see around us today attribute their success to employees who are empowered to learn and innovate at great speeds. These are organizations that have buried their outlook about traditional styles of learning and development (L&D) and embraced new strategies or models. They have realized that, with the traditional approach, it is impossible to achieve a high growth or efficiency because the way people learn has undergone a disruptive transformation…from formal ‘structured’ learning’ to informal ‘social learning’.

More and more research findings in recent years clearly establish the need for a major shift in our outlook towards how employees ‘learn’ at today’s workplaces. In this context, the 70:20:10 model or framework for learning and development is a strategy that looks promising as well as enticing. Many thriving organizations of today are the ones that have already successfully tested and implemented the 70:20:10 Model within their workplaces.

Among the organizations that have adopted the 70:20:10 approach are SAP, HP, GAP, Boston Scientific, Ernst & Young, Sony Ericsson, Irish Life, Maersk, KPMG, Morgan Stanley, Caterpillar, Creganna-Tactx Medical, PwC, Standard Chartered, Wrigley, Eli Lilly, Nike, NAB, Mars, GlaxoSmithKline, Nokia, American Express, Coca-Cola, Herbert Smith Freehills, Microsoft, Bank of America, Home Depot, Dell, Oracle, BAT, Rabobank, BT, ANZ Bank, L’Oréal, Goldman Sachs, Best Buy, Cranfield University, Princeton University, George Washington University, and the Australian Federal Government.

THE 70:20:10 MODELSThere are two 70:20:10 models in business:

  1. 70:20:10 Model in Learning & Development
  2. 70:20:10 Model in Managing Innovation

70:20:10 Model in Learning & Development

The 70:20:10 Model in Learning & Development was developed by Morgan McCall and his colleagues Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo at the Centre for Creative Leadership in the year 1996. This was based on the results of their survey with successful and effective managers which revealed that ‘Learning’ is:

  • 70% from tough jobs
  • 20% from people (mostly the boss)
  • 10% from courses and reading

This stresses on the need to extend learning beyond classroom and course paradigm. It also provides a framework for improving and extending traditional training and learning into the workplace where:

  • ‘70’ refers to ‘workplace learning’ and ‘performance support’
  • ‘20’ refers to ‘social learning’ (including informal coaching and mentoring)
  • ‘10’ refers to ‘structured learning’

70:20:10 Model in Managing Innovation

The 70:20:10 Model in Managing Innovation is a business resource management model that was pioneered in 2005 by Eric Schmidt, ex-CEO of Google Inc, and is being practiced at Google ever since. It emphasizes the proportion of time that employees should spend on different activities, as given below:

  • 70% on core business tasks
  • 20% on projects related to core business
  • 10% on projects unrelated to core business

This model signifies the need to redefine the (traditional) outlook towards business resource management. It encourages creativity, innovation, and experimentation within organizations, thus making them successful in today’s highly competitive world.


As per the 70:20:10 Model in Learning & Development:

  • 70% of organizational learning comes from workplace (on-the-job) learning
  • 20% of organizational learning comes from social learning (feedback & coaching by managers)
  • And, only 10% of organizational learning is derived from traditional training (in house, outsourced or e-Learning) that is structured and planned

Despite knowing about these statistics, many organizations spend their training time, effort, and budget in inverse proportion! Below are a few interesting observations (derived from various research reports):

  • Most of the L&D department’s time, effort, and budget (around 80%) is devoted to enabling traditional training. However, only around 10% time, effort, and budget is devoted to enabling social learning, and another 10% is spent on workplace learning.
  • Most L&D professionals possess high levels of skills around the traditional training area. However, they possess significantly low levels of skills around the informal or social learning areas.

It is very surprising to observe the disproportionate allocation of L&D efforts that organizations make to empower their workforce. It is also alarming to look at the skill gaps of the learning professionals in the context of implementing the 70:20:10 Model. These disparities signify the need for a major re-look at the roles and activities that revolve around L&D activities for the successful implementation of the 70:20:10 Model in organizations. In this context, below are a few guidelines that will help you to prepare your organization for the 70:20:10 Model:

  • Accepting the facts and committing to the “informal learning first” mindset is the first step. Adopt the 70:20:10 Model as your organization’s learning strategy. Drive the message on the benefits that this strategy could bring in to the training effectiveness (and the Return-on-Investment ) amongst all stakeholders.
  • Relook at the budget allocations for your organizational training programs. Align the budget to the proportions derived from the 70:20:10 Model by focusing more on workplace and social learning. The ideal proportions for your training budget allocations should be: 10% for formal trainings, 20% for ‘social learning’ (including informal coaching and mentoring), and 70% for ‘workplace learning’ and ‘performance support’.
  • Get your L&D professionals trained to master the new skills (revolving around the workplace learning and social learning areas) that are paramount for the implementation of the 70:20:10 Model.
  • Empower your L&D professionals to adopt technologies and tools that are available today (and evolving continuously) to facilitate and track informal learning in the workplace. These include, but not limited to, Performance Support Systems (PSS) and Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) apart from the other social media platforms and applications.
  • Check for success stories of organizations that have already reaped the benefits of the 70:20:10 Model. Research on the best practices related to the implementation. Share your concerns and challenges with others in your organization, as well as with the community and the industry.

Implementation of the 70:20:10 Model will revolutionize your organization’s learning culture by helping build a culture of ‘continuous learning’, with your managers as ‘enablers of learning’. Most importantly, it will help reduce your training costs, but accelerate organizational performance.


If you would like to see a visual representation of this article, check the link below for our Infographic:

Here is a video below from Charles Jennings (Director of the 70:20:10 Forum and one of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners in learning and development) on the 70:20:10 learning guideline:

In case you require support working with the 70:20:10 framework or investigating its potential, check the 70:20:10 Forum (link below):


We believe that the 70:20:10 framework is going to evolve further to play a major role in organizational learning in workplaces around the world. Here are our predictions on the future of the model based on present trends:

  • Tighter integration of Performance Support Systems (PSS) and Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) with social networking platforms for intra-organizational collaboration and knowledge sharing
  • Integration of tools and standards (such as the TinCan API) for tracking informal learning experiences
  • Heavier adoption of learning analytics to make formal and informal learning more personalized and adaptive (intelligent)
  • Evolution and adoption of new pedagogical models that could foster experiential and social learning in the workplace

What are your experiences in implementing the 70:20:10 Model in your organization? In case you are following the traditional approaches for organizational learning and development, what are the challenges that you are facing (if any)? Please share with us.

Written by Santhosh Kumar


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