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Recommended Reading List

Here are some brief reviews of some books we've recommended that aim to support your 70:20:10 implementation journey.  

We encourage members to share their insights into these books and any others that have helped shape their thinking and drive action. Don't forget to follow this post to receive updates with new books and comments from members.

Full list:


Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance

Jay Cross

Most learning in the workplace is informal. This seminal on informal learning provides advice about how to exploit informal learning not by ‘controlling’ it, but by identifying where it is happening, and helping it happen more.

Jay Cross is one of the ‘fathers’ of modern workplace learning. Cross says “Informal learning is the unofficial, unscheduled, impromptu way people learn to do their jobs”. This book is a primer for every learning professional looking to extend their impact beyond the classroom.

“Formal learning is like riding a bus: the driver decides where the bus is going; the passengers are along for the ride. Informal learning is like riding a bike: the rider chooses the destination, the speed, and the route.” (Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance) (back to top)

Show Your Work

Jane Bozarth

Jane Bozarth’s ‘Show Your Work’ explores ways that tacit knowledge can be shared and exploited. There are plenty of practical examples and plenty of advice about how to ‘show your work’.

This book focuses on the ‘missing link’ from the majority of curricula, courses and programs. That missing link is an acknowledgement that tacit knowledge plays a large part in high performance. Traditional teaching and course design methods don’t address tacit. They are, by their very nature, built around explicit knowledge.

“What Jane Bozarth has done in Show Your Work is to show how to help others see and understand the tacit knowledge in our experience—what we (or others) are doing, especially the parts that aren’t in the recipe, the model, the template, the task analysis, the flow chart. She does it gently, carefully, without over-analyzing.” (Learning Solutions Magazine) (back to top)

The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media

Marcia Conner and Tony Bingham

Marcia is one of the ‘three women of social learning’. Together with Jane Hart and Jane Bozarth, they have driven thinking and practice in exploiting the ‘20’ and are leaders in this field.

This book by Marcia and ASTD (now ATD) President and CEO, Tony Bingham starts with the ‘36,000 foot view’ and quickly gets into practical aspects of effective social learning.  Of particular interest are the two sections at the end of each chapter – ‘Respond to Critics’ and ‘Recommendations’ - containing very practical advice that can be turned into action.

“Training often gives people solutions to problems already solved. Collaboration addresses challenges no one has overcome before.” (New Social Learning) (back to top)

Work-Based Learning: Bridging Knowledge and Action in the Workplace

Joseph A. Raelin

Work-Based Learning is an incredibly comprehensive reference for anyone seeking to explore the strategic value of learning in organisations. The 2008 release is an updated and revised edition, which provides a theoretical context for workplace learning before exploring a variety of experiential and social learning techniques for workplace application. A key focus of the publication is the importance of reflection, which Raelin argues is the key to ‘anticipating and working with change and competing successfully in the twenty-first century marketplace’. 

“We are in an age where learning and perpetual improvement are the keys to survival for most organizations. Yet there is very little practical advice out there on how to integrate such learning with the pressures of work. Work-Based Learning is a much-needed statement of both the theory and practice of such learning and should, therefore, be highly valued by all managers who want to improve their organization’s learning capacity”.

Edgar H. Schein, Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management (back to top)

Informal Learning at Work: How to Boost Performance in Tough Times

Paul Matthews

Paul Mathews has had business and learning roles in large technology companies. His book is practical and informative.  It addresses the issue of incorporating informal learning (the ‘70’ and ‘20’) into practice and explains the need for L&D to adopt a new role. There is a short section on the 70:20:10 model.

This book contains chapters titled ‘Practical Things for You to Do’; ‘Tools and Ideas You Can Use’; ‘getting Managers More Involved’; and ‘Obstacles You May Face’

"Informal Learning at Work' has changed my mind-set and provided a framework and direction for how better performance can be achieved".
Adrian Kingswell - Head of Learning & Development, Hampshire Constabulary (back to top)

Social Learning Handbook

Jane Hart

Jane has been at the ‘heart’ of social learning for many years. This book provides great insights into the changing world of work and learning and the rise of social learning. It discusses the challenges and provides pointers for planning and maintaining online communities, and other ‘connected’ social learning activities.

Social Learning Handbook 2014 has a chapter by Harold Jarche titled ‘Becoming a Social Learner’ which is an added bonus. Harold is the leading thinker in PKM (personal knowledge mastery).

“Although social learning is something that we have always done, it has often been  ignored or misunderstood by the training industry. Now, however, the proliferation of social tools makes this a powerful way to improve workplace performance.” (Social Learning Handbook 2014) (back to top)


  The Power of Mindful Learning

Ellen Langer

This 1997 book should be read by all L&D professionals who are looking to break out of the course/curriculum model.

Langer is Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. This book is very ‘readable’ and free of technical terms. Yet she draws on her research to demonstrate the significance of context and the continually changing nature of information in effective learning.

Statements, supported by solid research, such as “Memorizing is a strategy for taking in material that has no personal meaning” certainly get one thinking about the implications of ‘knowledge transfer’ types of learning.

"Certain myths and fairy tales help advance a culture by passing on a profound and complex wisdom to succeeding generations. Others, however, deserve to be questioned. This book is about seven pervasive myths, or mindsets, that undermine the process of learning and how we can avoid their debilitating effects in a wide variety of settings.

  • The basics must be learned so well that they become second nature.
  • Paying attention means staying focused on one thing at a time.
  • Delaying gratification is important.
  • Rote memorization is necessary in education.
  • Forgetting is a problem.
  • Intelligence is knowing "what's out there."
  • There are right and wrong answers.

The remainder of the book pokes holes in these aging shibboleths. Better to be mindful.”

Jay Cross on ‘the Power of Mindful Learning’ (back to top)

Revolutionize Learning & Development: Performance and Innovation Strategy for the Information Age

Clark Quinn

Clark Quinn’s 2014 book challenges the current dominant models for training and development. It also provides a strategy and framework for change and advance.

It is a practical book. There are case studies that help tie the framework to practical action, and the final chapter discusses high level processes for driving change.

Clark Quinn has written a number of excellent books, all of which are worth reading. He is regarded as one of the leading experts in mobile learning (Designing Mobile Learning and The Mobile Academy: mLearning for Higher Education are two of his earlier books), and in instructional design (Engaging Learning: Designing e-Learning Simulation Games, written with Marcia Conner).

"Let me be blunt: the current state of the learning & development industry is failing. Overall L&D is only doing a fraction of what it could and should be doing, and the part it is doing, it is doing poorly. The L&D industry has, by and large, been in denial and a willing participant in complacency. As a consequence, L&D is on a steady path to extinction". (Revolutionize Learning & Development) (back to top)

Creating a Learning Culture: Strategy, Technology, and Practice

Marcia Conner and James Clawson

This book was first published in 2004 and is a 350-page collection of chapters by the best thinkers and practitioners in the field.

With an introduction by John Seely Brown (whose own book is also in the list) it contains far-sighted contributions by people such as Rob Cross (the ‘master’ of social network analysis), Etienne Wenger (communities of practice), David Grebow (collaboration) and many other excellent thinkers and ‘doers’ in the learning world.

"As organizations take learning to the next phase, to meet the learning challenge at the global level, they will benefit from the insights and lessons presented in this excellent book." Eilif Trondsen, Director, Learning on Demand, SRI Consulting Business Intelligence (back to top)


A New Learning Culture: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change

John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas

This is another ‘learning culture’ book that speaks profoundly to experiential and social learning (the ‘70’ and ‘20’).  John Seely Brown is one of the towering icons of technology (he was Head of the famous XEROX PARC for many years) who has turned his attention to learning. Doug Thomas is an academic whose work focuses on technology and culture.

This book provides an excellent set of insights into the need to embrace change and ‘learning in the collective’. It addresses tacit learning, ‘learning as enquiry’ and the relationship between learning and playing. More than anything else it provides answers to questions about effective experiential learning and the importance of ‘learning with, and through, others’.

“When information is stable, the explicit dimension becomes very important. The speed of light, for example, is probably not going to change....The twenty-first century, however, belongs to the tacit. In the digital world we learn by doing, watching, and experiencing... not by taking a class or reading a manual.” (A New Learning Culture) (back to top)

Have you read any of these books? What did you find valuable and why? What other books have challenged your thinking or shaped the way you work? Why not share your comments and experiences with our community. 

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Taking up Sharon English's recommendation to read 'Revolutionize L  & D' by Clark Quinn. Sharon is the first Certified 70:20:10 Practitioner. Sharon's comment  in her Working Out Loud Webinar was that it helped focus her ideas for an implementation plan - I am hoping it will also assist me in this!

Now half way through Clark N Quinn's book - it is excellent for conveying a vision of the way contemporary learning and development looks/could look!