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Building Your 70:20:10 Business Case: 70:20:10 Focus Series

This webinar (51:28min) and written summary explores key elements of a 70:20:10 business case and links to free resources that can be used to develop your own business case. This post will be useful to those:

  • Wanting to learn more about why organisations adopt 70:20:10
  • Seeking to actively drive, or position change
  • Seeking clarity about where you are now and where you’d like to be.

Each organisation will have its own business case methodology and process so this webinar, summary and toolkit resources have intentionally been designed to provide generic guidance that can be adapted to your own context and included with your own business case tools and processes.

The webinar recording and notes do not seek to provide a detailed description of each of the business case process or structure. The primary objective is to connect practitioners with links to assist them in exploring further. Selected elements of the business case have been explored and discussed further, including:

  • Business and L&D drivers of change
  • Why organisations adopt 70:20:10
  • Potential risks to positioning and implementing 70:20:10.

Resources you can use to explore further and assist in developing your Business Case include the below and links embedded throughout the summary:

  • Toolkit for Preparing a 70:20:10 Business Case
  • A number of other toolkit resources can be used to underpin key elements of your business case. A simple way to access these is via the Toolkit Guide and by selecting the ‘Developing’ stage of the implementation journey. This provides links to recommended resources to get you started

Toolkit for Building a 70:20:10 Business Case

The 70:20:10 Forum’s Toolkit for Preparing a 70:20:10 Business Case was referred to during the session. This toolkit includes guidance on developing your business case. It also has two downloadable resources:

  1. A slide deck template built around the business case structure (see below)
  2. A checklist that will help you gather the right data to produce a robust 70:20:10 Business Case

Strategic drivers of organisational change

Today’s workers make complex decisions in an environment of constant change and disruption. Although technology is changing the way we live our lives, making it easier for us to connect, share and support each other, many organisations are slow to adapt. Legacy systems and process often make it difficult for workers to solve problems and improve performance.

There are a number of drivers that are shaping organisations and the future of work:

  • Mobility and Flexibility - Work anytime, anywhere and with any device
  • Social and Collaborative Behaviours - Connect, share ideas, solve problems and create solutions together
  • Technology - Shift to the cloud, collaborative technology, big data, internet of things
  • Flatter and softer organisations - Distributed decision making, no boundaries (Morgan, J. 2014, ‘The Future of Work’, Wiley).


The message is simple - Organisations need to learn at the speed of businessTM if they are to adapt and thrive.

Organisations adopt 70:20:10 to respond to a variety of strategic challenges:

We asked our audience to share some of their strategic drivers. Responses from the three webinars include:

  • Our balance scorecard 6Ps: Profit, Promoters, Partners, Processes, Pioneers and People
  • Technology and Capability Development
  • Elimination of silos and the sharing of knowledge
  • Building a high performing culture and driving business improvements
  • Innovation, effectiveness and efficiencies
  • Transforming the business and how we work both internally and with our customers
  • Government Initiatives and mandates that need to be learned over a wide span of the corporation in a SHORT time
  • Volatile market place - team approach to improve performance, innovate and create new business opportunities

The impact of change on the learning function

L&D functions are coming under significant pressure as a result of the increasing uncertainty, complexity and change impacting organisations. Traditional L&D solutions are often challenged as being inflexible, costly, too slow to develop and largely ineffective. As the half-life of knowledge decreases, the difficulty in maintaining traditional content based solutions is also becoming more apparent.

We asked webinar participants to share where they are feeling the resultant pressure:

  1. Deliver at greater SPEED (responsiveness)
  2. Do MORE WITH LESS (efficiency)
  3. Demonstrate CLEAR VALUE to stakeholders (impact)
  4. Prioritise HIGH VALUE activities (resourcing)
  5. Improve the REACH and FLEXIBILITY of solutions
  6. To ALIGN more closely with organisational objectives

Although we got a mix of responses, around two thirds of our audience reported they were under pressure to respond to many or most of the above.

Approaches to learning must change if we are to help organisations learn at the speed of business

The need for greater responsiveness and flexibility, as well as recognition that the workplace is where most learning occurs, means organisations can no longer leave learning solely to HR or L&D departments.

An approach that guides, supports and enables workplace learning is the key to flexibility and success. The workplace learning paradigm supports continuous learning as part of the workflow. This is why 70:20:10 has very much found its time.

Benefits and Impact of 70:20:10

The webinar discussed the need to align the implementation of 70:20:10 with organisational (performance outcomes). In addition to business specific outcomes, 70:20:10 has been demonstrated to deliver the following benefits and outcomes:

  • A high performance culture
  • Improved speed to productivity
  • Organisational agility and resilience
  • Increased employee engagement
  • A strategic and responsive learning function
  • Increased impact and efficiency of learning.

Risks to the success of your 70:20:10 implementation

Webinar participants were asked to share any risks to positioning or implementing 70:20:10 they were experiencing or likely to face. Responses centred on a number of key themes and included the following comments:

  • Mindset and culture - Legacy model and mindset, Perception that the Training Factory produces best results - learners enter the factory 'empty' and emerge 'full' of content and knowledge, 'We have always done it this way', People don't see development unless it's a course, Resistance to change and the thought that it is L&D's job
  • Stakeholder engagement and support - range of sub businesses within one larger organisation - each thinking their needs are unique and different (when actually they are largely the same!), Too focused on targets, not enough commitment to drive this from the top, managers still doing too much of the work, leaders managing/not leading
  • L&D capability, mindset and credibility - Not enough experience in this strategy, Position of the L&D function - get on the priority list, Trainer departments don't help as many trainers enjoy training, How can we be consistent when a lot of the responsibility is no longer with us, but with managers and staff
  • Resourcing and Measurement - Limited resources, there isn't enough time, Cost, Approach too soft, how to measure impact - hard facts, How can we prove the impact is due, at least in some part, to the 70-20-10 solutions we've put in place, Help my business clients prioritize - they can't have it all anymore, Magnitude of change and time to change/implement effectively in light of everything else going on in the business.

Webinar participants were then asked to share ideas for mitigating some of the identified risks. Their responses included:

  • Communicating and Socialising the approach - Sharing success stories, preferably from with the business - showing it works, Convince people of the quality of learning (through 70-20-10) and the benefits to them and the organisation, Use real life experience, How do we learn as citizens vs. employees, Keep it simple and sell it to the business, Document the pain points in the culture, and show anecdotally and empirically how new learning models can offset those pains, Reflection on 'learnt lessons'
  • Approach to Implementing 70:20:10 - May be starting to give training and (70:20) examples in solutions, At Deloitte my previous role, we were building 70:20:10 around every client engagement, Opt for a staged approach rather than big bang, so that the magnitude of change is spread/softened, Pilot with a defined group rather than complete workforce, Adopt a guerrilla approach to implementing, Don't give them a choice e.g. we have stopped word and excel courses and provide online support instead
  • Stakeholder engagement - CEO agenda is also CLO agenda, Put in place key performance indicators to clarify what the business benefits will be, Build this into the way they do their jobs, manager education, Make workplace learning a part of the "work schedule" with buy in from management, Make L&D an integral part of performance review, in particular of managers (how have you developed your team this year?), Leadership support for priorities
  • Language and Terminology - Just designing/developing our solutions using 70-20-10, without using all the L&D buzzwords, Dare I say let's not call it 70:20:10.


Today’s workers make complex decisions in an environment of change and disruption. Organisations need to learn at the speed of businessTM if they are to survive and thrive.

70:20:10 is a strategic framework that can be used to build a strategic learning function and support the shift to a continuous and high performing learning culture.

Use the 70:20:10 Forum’s resources to explore further and to consider your own approach for positioning and implementing 70:20:10.


Come back and share

  • Have a conversation with your team about the drivers, needs, outcomes and potential for 70:20:10 in your organisation.
  • What similarities are you seeing between the points raised by the Forum Community and your own situation?
  • Will you need to formally develop and position a business case, or can you work more informally to make incremental change or get support for a pilot?
  • What are your next steps?

Continue the conversation by sharing your ideas, experiences and questions with the community.


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