The 70 20 10 learning model – I Can’t Believe So Many People Are Taken In By This
What a load of old cobblers! I can’t believe how much guff is spouted about this 70-20-10 learning model principle. It’s like the emperors new clothes all over again. I genuinely think the L&D community has been proper gulled and hood winked and needs to re-focus on what really delivers value.
Where do I start talking about the 70 20 10 learning model?
Lets look at how this 70-20-10 thing came into being. McCall, Lombardo and Eichinger from the Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL) conducted a survey of 200 Executives and asked THEM, how THEY thought they learned! These executives, not to my knowledge in any way experts in the field of learning or indeed students of psychology or neuroscience, were asked “whaddya think about how you learn?”
Now, I was once one of this “Executive” community and I certainly don’t think that I was or am in any way qualified to provide anything other than a random theory based on no science whatsoever! In fact Executives per se aren’t even that good at getting stuff right that they are supposed to know about, just look at how many Executives managed to embarrass themselves over Brexit economic doom predictions.
Fact is this group of 200, who had no relevant expertise were just making it up! CCL then used this ‘evidence’ to build their hypothesis that we now know as 70-20-10. I could bang-on about the lack of empirical evidence, and the fact that self-assessment is notoriously inaccurate, but I have probably made the point. Mmmmm Strike 1.
The next obvious point I would raise is what are the chances that the entire human race all learns in exactly the same way. Obviously we don’t. Shep the well-trained sheep-dog could probably have worked that out. So strike 2.
What then are the chances that we all learn with the same neat delineation? 70% experience, 20% social learning and 10% formal training. I am sitting here desperately hoping that my dentist who is lining me up for root canal treatment didn’t learn 90% of her knowledge and competence through experience aka ‘experimenting’, or at least if he did, he now knows what she is doing having practiced on others before me! Obviously there is a mix but the idea that it is a strict 70-20-10 is simply rubbish and to even attempt to place numbers on it, undermines any credibility the model might have. Strike 3 and out!
As 70-20-10 shuffles itself off to the metaphorical changing room for dumb ideas we realise we still haven’t finished! Probably most relevant point is that even if 70-20-10 was true and it obviously isn’t – it is completely the wrong thing to focus on! It doesn’t in any way address WHAT the individual has learned and if that material is actually correct! The group of 200 spouted off about “I learn this way not that way” but who proved that what they learned was correct? Maybe they miss-learned this way and that way? Maybe what they ‘learned’ was of no real relevance to their organisation. Maybe it didn’t have any impact whatsoever on the performance of the Executive?
Surely if the L&D community were to get enthusiastic and dare I say almost cult-like in the enthusiasm for something, you would have hoped that that something was (actually grounded in science) and made a tangible, quantifiable difference to the economic performance of the enterprise for which they work. Surely?
Where is the connection, where is the evidence that in any way supports 70-20-10 delivering quantifiable and tangible economic performance improvement to enterprise? There isn’t any. And, this goes to the heart of the problem and might explain why so many Executives not involved in L&D struggle to justify investing in L&D.
At the end of the day Executives, when not involved in making asses of themselves about Brexit meltdown, making up statistics and speculating on wild theories about how they might learn stuff have a day job to do. I.e. growing the businesses they work for. They don’t care about training and as an investor, I don’t want them focussing on training, I want them focussed on creating sustainable long-term growth!
Perhaps if the L&D community spent less time evangelising (550,000 Google listing for 702010!) and more time focussing on what people actually learn and how that improvement in knowledge drives enterprise performance improvement, they would find said same Executives more than willing and able to invest more in L&D.
Clever Nelly from Elephants don’t forget IS grounded in science, leverages the latest neuroscience and proven concepts like the Forgetting/Remembering curve and guarantees that employees learn what they are trained. Nelly even helps Executives point Nelly at the areas that create the greatest value and measures that value creation and improvement for them.
70-20-10 is certainly a load of old cobblers but don’t let that let you draw the conclusion that your need to put the boot into L&D or that training doesn’t work. Training obviously works when it targeted in the right areas and becomes learned. Shep the sheep-dog could probably also work out that employees who have learned and retained all they have been taught will perform better than those who have not. And even said Executives when faced with the stark choice, would rather preside over a business full of Nelly supported competent knowledge champions than 70-20-10 exponents.