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Problems Addressed By 70:20:10

Organisations choose to adopt the 70:20:10 framework for a variety of reasons.   Here are five common development problems/challenges that can be addressed through use of the framework.

1. The limitations of structured ‘event- based’ learning

Event based learning (learning in structured events such as classes, courses and eLearning modules) forms the bulk of the traditional training calendar but has a number of limitations as the speed of business and the rate of change in organisations continues to increase:

a. It is costly in terms of time and resourcing
b. It is difficult to scale without large budgets
c. It contains an inherent inertia – it takes time to design, develop and deliver.

70:20:10 provides a larger toolbox of solutions to both existing and emerging workforce capability challenges. The framework can help the learning function de-focus on structured content-led solutions and provide greater support for workplace learning solutions.

2. Learning without context is quickly forgotten

We’ve known since 1885 that the human brain forgets quickly unless there are opportunities to use the knowledge and skills. In his famous ‘forgetting curve’ experiments Dr Herman Ebbinghaus demonstrated that without a contextual reference, humans will forget around 50% of what they have learned within one hour and that learning loss is exponential – context is critical.

70:20:10 supports workers to learn in the flow of their daily work. Increased use of social and experiential approaches increases speed to productivity and supports a culture of continuous learning.

3. REAL learning is behaviour change

The simplest definition of learning is ‘behaviour change’. Eric Kandel of Columbia University and Nobel Laureate for his work on learning and memory describes learning as, ‘the ability to acquire new ideas from experience and retain them as memories’.

Photograph by August Wieselmayer

The ultimate measure of our success is whether workplace behaviour (performance) has improved. Many learning functions are trapped in a cycle of measuring inputs and activity, rather than outcomes and impact.

70:20:10 supports a shift to a performance focus, which can help the learning function in many ways:

  • engaging with stakeholders on what matters the most
  • aligning with business needs
  • shifting from training needs analysis to performance analysis
  • moving from a focus on measuring inputs to an emphasis on outcomes and impact (i.e. value creation).

4. Strategic approaches such as 70:20:10 deliver greater value

Flattening organisations, softening organisational structures, globalisation and increasing speed and complexity of business are challenging traditional approaches to talent development.   

A strategic approach is required to align with business needs in order to increase the speed, reach, flexibility and impact of talent development and to drive collaboration and innovation.

“If HR and Talent Development Strategy is aligned with business – the result is up to 250% increase in organisational performance compared to those with more tactical/transactional HR/Talent/L&D functions”, Dave Ulrich & Wayne Brockbank, RLB Group Research.

70:20:10 provides a model to support continuous learning. Moving beyond structured learning events provides a wider range of solutions and deeper integration of learning with working.

The 70:20:10 Forum’s 10 Point Approach to implementing 70:20:10 provides a rigorous methodology for leveraging the 70:20:10 as a holistic and strategic approach to talent development.

5. There is an inherent inertia in formal training

As the half-life of knowledge continues to decrease, workers need continuous support to build and share knowledge in real-time. 

In this environment, content-centric courses are seen as taking far too long to design and develop. The time required to progress through analysis and design to development and (finally) implementation simply cannot match the speed of the workplace and the demands of knowledge workers.

70:20:10 responds to this challenge by ensuring that all options are analysed. Greater emphasis on social and experiential approaches integrates learning with work, increases speed to performance and decreases the demand for formal structured learning. Technology can also improve the reach and flexibility of formal structured learning.

How do these problems apply to your organisation and how is your HR/L&D function responding? Why not share your comments and experiences with our community. 

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