27 JUNE, 2017


Have you ever felt the frustration of hearing about a concept and not finding any useful web search results? That’s how we felt we first encountered 70:20:10. After talking to our networks, we realised we weren’t alone, and that was how the Demystifying 70:20:10 white paper was born.

The aim of the white paper was to offer examples and advice from people who were ‘walking the talk’ of 70:20:10.

In the years leading up to Demystifying 70:20:10, we realised 70:20:10 was still a new concept for many people we were talking to. Although the model was steadily gathering momentum, many were grappling with what it meant and how they could embed it within their own organisations.

In the six years since it was released, the white paper continues to be used by organisations around the world as a reference guide for their learning and development practices. But a lot has changed in that time, so we find ourselves asking some new questions.

Does 70:20:10 have a place in the future of work? Is it still relevant with the increase in digital disruption, blended learning, Experience API and agile development? How has it succeeded and evolved over time? What are the issues to beware of, and what is next for performance improvement?

At the time of the first white paper, there was very little informal material about 70:20:10 (our first web search showed 18 useful results) and no formal learning that we could find. Perhaps because of this, our research discovered that there was a range of implementations on a spectrum of acceptance and application. At one end was a learning and development manager whose almost seamless integration of 70:20:10 would still be enviable today; at the other, an interviewee who remained sceptical and had even subtly impaired their organisation’s official adoption of the model. The infancy of the principle was also illustrated by the fact that many of the discussions at the time focused on the labels (model, rule, principle, ratio) and the figures (70:20:10, 50:25:25, 60:20:20).

Today, it would be difficult to find an organisational learning professional who isn’t aware of 70:20:10. Some arguments persist about the numbers and the term itself: for example, whether it should it now be known as ‘education, experience, and exposure’ rather than 70:20:10. What is undeniable, though, is that application of 70:20:10 has increased—and with now approximately 419,000 internet results, there is no lack of resources.

As our new research begins, we have continued the theme of exploring views and sharing tips to help learning and performance specialists to learn from each other.

Initial conversations have revealed that the range of implementations continues. One organisation credits 70:20:10 as the catalyst for shifting their focus from training needs to supporting individual performance development. Another now considers 70:20:10 so well engrained that it’s no longer necessary to even mention the term. But the model is not fail-safe: there seem to be common known fail points, and a few surprises along the way.

As research continues, the result is likely to be a new paper full of tips and suggestions for performance specialists for current and future practice. And we may just determine once and for all whether 70:20:10 has a place in the future of work.

If you have experience with 70:20:10 and would like to be involved in the research, please contact Kelly Kajewski at DeakinCo. kelly.kajewski@www.deakinco.com