Charles Jennings promotes a 70:20:10 framework for organizational learning, where on-the-job experiential/informal learning and social learning represent the preponderance of each employee’s overall learning. Only 10% is from formal learning activities.
The reason this framework works is that it more or less reflects what’s actually true for employees in the typical workplace. Formal education has its place in preparing people for the workplace. Once those people become employees, they have a job to get done. People aren’t hired to learn, they’re hired to increase productivity or capability. There are productivity expectations and organizational needs to be met.
Employees learn the ins and outs of their jobs, often informally from others. They apply the knowledge they have. They learn from mistakes, as well as from successes. For them to become productive for their organizations and more valuable as employees, they must become more skilled and knowledgeable in their role. In a majority of workplaces, most skills and knowledge can’t be learned anywhere other than on the job.
The 70:20:10 framework helps put the work of the Learning and Development (L&D) function into perspective: its traditional domain really has but a small role in the overall development of employees. Allocating even 10% of employee learning to formal activities may be too much; on-the-job informal learning alone is estimated by some to exceed 95% (See Jarche, Informal Rule of Thumb).
Now this doesn’t mean the L&D function has been marginalized. Formal activities have their place. However, it does mean that L&D professionals must embrace this reality, understand how formal learning fits in the overall picture, and be very strategic when approaching their jobs.
I believe L&D also has a role to help facilitate informal and social learning in the workplace. I’ll cover some of that in my next article. What form that role takes will depend greatly on the nature of each individual organization, but the potential payoffs are tremendous. Brent Schlenker asked me just days ago whether anyone is asking “us” to take on such roles. My answer is no, but I prefer to be more proactive than reactive.
Here’s a recent post by Charles on the subject, I particularly like this quote related to 70:20:10 in the enterprise:
If nothing else, 70:20:10 is an agent of change – helping strengthen cultural focus on high performance and continuous development and better positioning people to change behaviours to incorporate all the things that go with growth or development mindsets – constant enquiry, and acceptance of failure as part of the process on the road to success.
Thanks for reading!
This work by Tom Spiglanin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at tom.spiglanin.com.