What is the 70:20:10 Learning Model?
• What is the 70:20:10 Model?
• The 70:20:10 learning model is a guiding metaphor for all development activities and it refers to
recommended percentages of where we should learn to achieve a better ‘learning mix’:
• 70% is informal, on the job, experience based, stretch projects and practice.
• 20% is coaching, mentoring, and developing through others.
• 10% is formal learning interventions and structured courses.
• The risk with the model is that it inherently suggests that the 10% is unimportant. Yet, formal
learning is essential to provide the ‘learning mix’ because people need to learn from all 3;
structured training (10%), conversations (20%), and ‘on-the-job’ (70%). The 10% is essential
because, for example, a colleague in a large company would only ever be as good as their
counterparts on time management, unless an external trainer provided the expertise.
•In the experience of MBM our examples would be
learning to become HBDI practitioners – 10% formal
training, running team building – 20% coaching &
mentoring, and building our unique training method
‘Sticky Learning ®‘ – 70% stretch project.
How Did the 70 20 10 Learning Model Arrive?
– The Learning model 70:20:10 or 70 20 10, is still a hot topic in the world Learning & Development
– Intriguingly the 70:20:10 started being searched on Google in May 2007 (See Graph below), which
coincides with a CIPD podcast interviewing Charles Jennings, the then Head of Global Learning and
Development at Reuters, the news agency, and later founder of the 70:20:20 forum. The podcast
was about the role of line managers in learning and development (L&D). Charles said, ‘In my own
organisation, we have embedded in our learning strategy, in our learning approach, something
called 70, 20, 10. And that is, research tells us that adult learning within organisations, about 70%
of what people learn to do their jobs, they learn in the workplace on the job. 20%, they learn
through their networks, through coaching and so on. And 10 %, they learn formally’.
• There are 3 thoughts as to the origin of the 70 20 10 model:
• 1. The Center for Creative Leadership
• Center for Creative Leadership, summarized by McCall, Lombardo, and Morrison in ‘Lessons
of Experience’ (1988, Lexington Press)—although the phrase never actually appears in the
book. McCall, Lombardo and Morrison were interested in understanding the elements of
executive success. They asked 191 successful executives to respond to some version of the
• ‘Please identify at least 3 key events in your career, things that made a difference in the way
you manage now; 1) What happened? and 2) What did you learn from it (for better or
• Lombardo and Eichinger later summarised their findings in the ‘Career Architect Planner’
(1996 Lominger Press) as lessons learned by successful and effective managers are roughly:
• 70 percent from tough jobs.
• 20 percent from people (mostly the boss).
• 10 percent from courses and reading.
• 2. Alan Tough Was the Creator
• Educational psychologist Alan Tough is another frequently cited origin of the 70:20:10
learning model. Although the closest he came, apparently, was to conclude that ‘about 70
percent of adult learning takes place outside institutional frameworks’.
• 3. There is No Origin
• When Kajewski and Masden (2012) of DeakinPrime University in Australia, recently went in
search of the origins of the 70:20:10 rule, they concluded, ‘From our review it is clear that
there is a lack of empirical data supporting 70:20:10 and, while the above mentioned
sources are frequently credited, there is also a lack of certainty about the origin. Despite the
lack of empirical evidence and agreement on its origin, what cannot be denied is that the
70:20:10 model has gained significant momentum, and organisations are increasingly
subscribing to the principles that learning takes place through a combination of formal and
informal situations and through others.’
• The L&D community is split on the origin of the model and maybe Charles Jennings took a
principal that instinctively worked and ran with it. The reason that it took ‘hold’ was
probably because the L&D community needed a simple model that proved their instincts,
which was that learning happens across the piece, not just in classrooms.
How Does the 70:20:10 Learning Model Apply
• Providing Learners with a learning mix is key. No
longer should a Learner see learning as something
that is exclusive to the classroom training. A Personal
Development Plan should include all the elements.
• Time Management training course to learn the
principles and the knowledge – 10%.
• Speaking with your Line Manager/Learning Buddy
about your training and progress each month – 20%.
• Implementing, practicing and building on what you
have learnt whilst doing your job – 70%.
How Does ‘Sticky Learning ® Apply’ to the 70 20
10 Learning Model?
• Sticky Learning ® is a unique training method developed by the MBM team because we were
frustrated by the limited effect of one day training courses. The 70:20:10 was one of the
models we used to design Sticky Learning ®.
• In essence the 10% is delivered by the traditional classroom training courses. Each training
course has a foundation day and then an advanced day 6 months later. In between these
two days, 6 months apart, the Learner completes sticky pieces. Each sticky piece is a learning
activity completed on-the-job and ties-in with each of the six training course learning
• In addition, each Learner engages with a 1/2 day Learning To Learn training course before
they attend any of the MBM training courses. This 1/2 day is designed to help the Learner
understand how to learn more, more quickly, and with more easily, plus the importance of
models like 70:20:10 to learning and getting a better return on their investment of time.
• At the Learning To Learn training course each Learner is asked to pair with another Learner.
This becomes their Learning Buddy and in L&D language, this delivers the 20% of the
70:20:10 model because the learning buddies are given a structure of how often to meet to
discuss their learning, according to Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve. The Forgetting Curve
identifies when Learners are likely to ‘dump their learning’ – The Learning Buddy meetings
are scheduled for those times.
• You can find out more about Sticky Learning ®, or contact us to understand more.
What do we do?
A typical People Development programme with a supplier to the big
four UK supermarkets consists of a combination of the items that helps
suppliers to achieve their business objectives.
Try our popular
Category Management Academy
• Measuring Return on Investment using a 5 level
• Click here to see our Training Courses.
• What do our clients say about working with us.
• Free resources for UK Grocery professionals.
• Making Business Matter,
Sticky Learning House
5 Cheshire Road, Thame,
• Telephone: 0333 247 2012
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org