Improving the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Formal Development
The role of formal development is often debated by those exploring the 70:20:10 model.
The framework has sometimes been criticised as seeking to ‘downplay’ or remove formal development altogether. This is most certainly not the case. Formal development has an important role to play but, as with any performance solution, the specific context will determine the right balance of experience, exposure and education.
This checklist has been designed to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of formal development activities.
Breaking the ‘Richness/Reach Trade-Off’
The ‘richness versus reach trade-off ’(1) was the traditional challenge posed with formal development. Face-to face-events offered richness at the expense of reach and vice versa. The advent of technology has bridged this gap, allowing us to achieve both richness and reach.
Fig 1. The Richness versus Reach Trade-off
The challenge has now extended to the need to support individuals who need to solve complex problems in an environment of constant change.
Research on ‘Building High Performance Capability for the New Work Environment’ (Corporate Executive Board 2012) recognises that matrix structures and virtual networks inside and outside the organisation are becoming the norm. The research also reports that further improvements to existing formal training solutions are likely to yield only limited results:
‘Continuing to invest in standard improvements based on yesterday’s work environment will not yield breakthrough performance for the new work environment’.
In simple terms, the research reinforces that ‘what got us here won’t get us there’. We need to adapt our approaches if we are to be successful.
This transition reflects the significantly changing landscape of learning and the associated shift towards enabling people to learn and perform in the workplace at the speed of business.
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Fig 2. The Changing Landscape of Learning
Refocusing Formal Development within the 70:20:10
Within the 70:20:10 framework we should consider formal development as being re-focused or re-balanced, ensuring it serves as an enabler of further workplace learning.
Effective formal development solutions must support continuous learning by providing a foundation for just-in-time, ongoing learning, and for learning through cooperation and collaboration.
In making this transition it is important to look at current formal development activities with fresh eyes as there may be waste in our current solutions. Likewise, there may be opportunities to remove, reduce or realign our formal development solutions to support the performance outcomes we wish to achieve.
Although the primary purpose of this approach is to ensure we provide responsive performance solutions with impact, flexibility and reach, there is no doubt that a review of formal development solutions is likely to provide significant cost savings, which may be used to offset any investments you may wish to make in building capabilities or resourcing other elements of your 70:20:10 strategy.
1. Phillip Evans & Thomas Wurster explain the wider aspects of the richness/reach trade-off in their 1999 best-selling book ‘Blown To Bits: How the New Economics of Information Transforms Society’ (Harvard Business School Press)
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