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How to apply the 70-20-10 model in Learning and Development?

If you work in or with Learning and Development teams (L&D), you probably came across the concept of 70-20-10 rule. In this article, I explain what it is, how you can implement it and how it can help people to change their perspective on training.

What is the 70-20-10 rule?

It is a learning model that was developed in the 1980s by Morgan McCall, Robert W. Eichinger, and Michael Lombardo, employees from the US "Center for Creative Leadership".

It is a learning theory that promotes constant learning. The model explains that learning comes in 3 main ways:

  • Experience - 70% - This is about learning from everyday job experience.

  • Exposure - 20% - This way of learning comes from interaction with other people or experts.

  • Education - 10% - This is basically formal way to learn from traditional learning, training programs, etc.

How does it work?

  • Experience: Learning through career challenges and informal learning opportunities (by doing) in the workplace is the way to achieve the greatest and fastest learning progress. In other words, employees learn more when they take on new tasks, and where they have the opportunity to develop their current skills, as well as new ones, by solving problems that might arise as part of their daily work routines. The model recommends that 70% of learning takes place in this way.

  • Exposure: Learning through interactions. In the daily life at work, we also learn when we interact with colleagues through observation, shadowing, exchange... Online interaction, for example in team chats, using collaboration tools or social media, also plays an important role. Although learning from others is not the most obvious technique, according to the model it represents a 20% proportion.

  • Education: Formal learning, the most well-known aspect of the model, is delivered in a structured way. Used to improve employee performance through goal-orientated and Instructor-Led Training, it is great for establishing baseline knowledge on a specific topic. This is also the first way we think of when we want to learn a new skill, however, in the model, it only represents 10% of the total.

How this model relevant nowadays?

Historically, talking about development implied that most of L&D budget was spent on training employees in a face-to-face setting, however, nowadays learning is evolving around more efficient and better focused resources, such as knowledge transfer and collaborative work; this does not diminish the importance of training within the company or organization. However, the constant challenges we are currently facing require adaptation to the moments we live in and the acquisition of new skills to accomplish our objectives. We need to move forward at a fast-paced.

This is where the model provides a different perspective by recommending that traditional training accounts for only 10% of learning and by placing the emphasis on interactions with others (20%) and practice (70%) which are often immediately available resources.

Every person learns differently, looking for the appropriate ways or tools to make their learning experience as easy as possible. With this model, the employee will have effective learning, and therefore a more enriching process.

The 70-20-10 learning model brings many benefits:

  • Learning according to the needs

  • Alignment with individual goals

  • Improved employee engagement with the developing employee relationships

  • Results can be seen in the achievement of employees daily goals

  • Fast and low-cost deployment

What are the roles? Who does what?

As organisation, it is important to build a culture that enables individuals to learn via new experiences and encourage social and collaborative learning.

HR’s can also share and promote 70-20-10 Learning framework to managers and new employees. They guide business on the implementation of this model. Training is not the only answer.

Managers discuss with their employees the skills to be developed. They remove barriers and obstacles and provide coaching and support

Employee is ultimately responsible for his/her development which involves talking about it with the manager, prioritise self-development and perform actions to develop the skills.

How to implement it?

Learning from DOING (70%):

  • Job Mobility

  • Challenging Projects/Stretch assignments

  • Collaboration with other teams/departments

  • Practice & Critical Reflection

  • Teaching Others

  • Sign up for a community event in your company

  • Job rotation / short-term development assignment

Learning from OTHERS (20%):

  • Coaching

  • Mentor Relationships

  • Professional Networks

  • Attend Group Forums / professional conferences / seminars

  • Online Discussion Boards

  • Feedback from peers/Self-Assessments (e.g. 360 feedback)

  • Job shadowing

  • Observations

Learning from INFORMATION (10%):

  • Courses, Workshops, & Seminars

  • Degree & Certification Programs

  • Online training/eLearning

  • Books, Articles, & Podcasts

  • Webinars


  1. Carmen works in Human Resources. Her team has recently taken new responsibilities that involve working with complex Excel tables. It becomes quickly obvious that she needs to improve her skills in Excel especially pivot tables. She discusses this with her manager who informs her that he will send her to a training (INFORMATION) however due to budget restrictions, it will take time to organise a session. Carmen is proactive so she explores the e-learning platform available in her company. She also looks for YouTube videos and finds a website that contains step-by-step guides (INFORMATION). In the meantime, her manager identifies one of her colleague as expert in Excel who will show her how to create pivot tables (OTHERS). Once she knows the steps she will try on her own (DOING) with assistance of her expert colleague if she gets stuck (OTHERS). She will gradually increase the complexity of files she works on as she gets more confident (DOING).

  2. Lionel would like to be a leader and plans to apply next year to a team leader position in the new customer service centre that is being currently designed in his company. A leadership training will be organised for the new team leaders (INFORMATION) but, in order to be prepared, Lionel shares his aspiration with his manager who decides to support him. She assigns him to a project where he will have to lead a group of four people (DOING). She will coach him along the project and she puts him in contact with the person who has lead this project the previous years (OTHERS). In the meantime, Lionel will read books on project management and will attend a webinar on how to lead a team (INFORMATION)

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