To Learn Something, Just Hang Around (Mike Prokopeak). The Forum applies the 70:20:10 Lens


Learning is not difficult. We humans are built to learn and use all our senses to do so. We learn every minute of every day. We may not always be conscious of it, but regardless we pull in ideas from our experiences, our environment, and our interactions and use those to guide and shape our current and future behaviours.

Technology has afforded us the opportunity, as technology does, to make this process easier and faster. More specifically social technologies have increased our ability to learn with and from others over time and space. However as noted in Mike Prokopeak's editorial in Chief Learning Officer, To Learn Something, Just Hang Around, Our growing interest and reliance on technology may be adding a layer of unneeded complexity in our learning efforts. 

As we move to add more, add the newest, and add better rather than subtract and streamline, the article reminds us that learning's greatest advantage, Radical Simplicity, is at risk of being lost. This isn't to say that the only good technology is no technology, its more to the point that we need to keep sight of what these technologies can enhance in the natural learning process and add just what is needed. This concept of Radical Simplicity can be seen best in the book Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth where the author Jim Merkel explores our impact on the Earth from a broader societal perspective:

"Radical Simplicity is the first book that guides the reader to a personal sustainability goal, then offers a process to monitor progress to a lifestyle that is equitable amongst all people, species, and generations."

In a similar vein, Radical Simplicity in our learning can mean having a goal of personal, continuous learning that respects and includes the learning needs of others. Radical Simplicity would then emphasize interdependence rather than independence in learning.

Tethering ones learning strategy to ever changing technology, its growing costs and complexity is not sustainable and can add the unnecessary layers Radical Simplicity argues against. Likewise, equally ineffective and inefficient has been the organisational strategy of focusing solely on a training first approach. This strategy too places "all the eggs in one basket", failing to consider all the elements of natural learning; experience, practice, conversation and reflection or like Mike Prokopeak notes in his editorial; watching, waiting, experimenting. 

So as the latest gadgets and approaches come at us at ever increasing speeds today, the individuals who are successful in separating the wheat from the chaff are those that have a strong understanding of their personal needs. For organisations the same holds true, having an understanding of what is truly effective from that which is not. Adhering to a set of guiding principles is the key. Both individuals and organisations need principles that are not so rigid that new ideas cannot serve to influence and not so loose that every new idea is incorporated.

Organisations that employ a 70:20:10 framework have a simple and flexible set of principles to guide decisions that empower employees and serves to ground leaders and learning professionals. It underpins their learning strategies enabling them to better resist the lure of complicating effectiveness with bells and whistles technology and training. A 70:20:10 framework is not about technology, it's not about training and although it frames learning around experiences, exposure and education, it is not so much about learning but about performing. 

Like the Orangutans and their environments highlighted in the editorial, our work and interactions within our organisations are our classrooms. And our resources (tools and people) are the greatest resources for learning and development. The 70:20:10 framework reminds us of this fact; much more of our learning happens within our work and not exclusively outside of it. There is addition by subtraction and less is more. It's that simple.

READ: To Learn Something, Just Hang Around