February 4, 2016

The 6 Myths of the 70:20:10 Learning Framework

There are lots of myths surrounding the 70:20:10 learning framework and it’s time those myths were dispelled. So says the benchmarking organisation Towards Maturity, which has teamed up with global learning expert Charles Jennings to produce a report called ‘70+20+10=100: The Evidence Behind The Numbers’.

What are these myths that Towards Maturity and Charles Jennings, a big advocate of 70:20:10 learning, talk about?

1. There is no evidence for the positive effect of 70:20:10
2. L&D should try to ‘achieve’ a ratio of 70:20:10
3. 70:20:10 implies that formal courses don’t work
4. 70:20:10 is a ‘rule’, ‘law’ or a ‘learning theory’ and ‘the numbers are fixed’
5. Adapting or building courses to include elements of social and workplace learning is ‘doing’ 70:20:10
6. 70:20:10 is just a way to cut costs

Towards Maturity and Jennings say these six myths are just that – myths. They point to the growing body of research demonstrating that 70:20:10 is built around solid principles and evidence of how modern learners learn best. This latest piece of research aims to debunk those myths and highlight the huge benefits of the learning framework to organisational learning.

However, some organisations still need convincing and it is this uncertainty about the efficacy of the framework that is preventing organisations from adopting new ways of working.

The research found that 90% of employees think that collaboration is essential or very useful for them in doing their job. Formal learning scored only 37%. Despite these findings, under half (47%) of L&D professionals say their approach is shaped by models that support collaborative learning in the workflow, such as 70:20:10.

Why is this? “Changing workplace dynamics have meant that L&D is now increasingly looking to embrace the ideas behind the 70:20:10 model,” says Jennings. “However, as interest has increased, a number of myths around it have gained momentum and distracted L&D from focusing on the holistic ‘100’ needed to deliver individual and organizational performance.”

Towards Maturity has lots of data to show that those organisations practicing new models, such as 70:20:10 are consistently enjoying the benefits. They are at least:

– four times more likely to respond faster to business change (30% versus 7%)
– three times more likely to report improvements in staff motivation (27% versus 8%)
– twice as likely to report improvements in customer satisfaction scores (42% versus 18%)

Organisation adopting 70:20:10 are not just changing the way that they deliver formal learning. They are also encouraging employees to conduct their own learning, to access networks that support them and learn through experience. Those organisations are a four times more likely to provide employees with access to job aids than those organisations that are not following the 70:20:10 model. They are also eight times more likely to encourage employees to work together to solve problems via social media and more likely to work with managers to actively support learning.

“What is clear from this detailed analysis is that organisations active in each of these three areas (the 70:20:10 framework) are delivering better results than those who are not,” says Laura Overton, founder and MD of Towards Maturity.