The 70-20-10 learning model

70 20 10 numbers

As a training designer, I work with various learning principles in the background all the time. Whether its about how people learn, how to structure a learning intervention or how to encourage maximum retention of information. This weekend one of the learning principles that informs so much of my design was really bought to life for me via my own learning experience.

I have just completed my learning hours for a coaching qualification, in total more than 125 hours of workshops, online learning and guided reading. Alongside that I have completed almost 50 hours of practical coaching experience giving me an opportunity to put my learning into practise and reflect on my experience. During the formal workshops we have been discussing, sharing, exploring and experimenting, learning as much from each other as from the expert facilitators. It has been an enlightening (and exhausting!) experience…and now, in theory at least, I am ‘qualified’. I have a certificate that says so. But, I am acutely aware that I am just at the beginning of a journey that will take many, many months of hard work before I will be able to truly call myself a Coach.

This experience is beautifully illustrated by the learning principle of 70/20/10 (usually credited to Morgan McCall and his colleagues working at the centre for creative leadership). This model shows that 10% of someone’s overall learning comes from formal learning experiences (classrooms, online, reading), 20% comes from social learning (from peers, mentoring, feedback) and 70% comes from experiential learning (on-the-job, trial and error, learning by doing).

70-20-10 diagram

Most of the work I have put in so far has been in the 10 and 20% zones and now I am heading into the ‘real world’ with all that knowledge to do the ‘real work’. I may have ‘ticked all the boxes’ to get the certificate, but, as this model so accurately shows me, I am only part the way there. Now I need to put my knowledge into practice so that I can make sense of it and find my own style and a true understanding.

This is a great reminder again of the importance of not just ‘ticking the boxes’ in learning. Formal training gives us the foundations and starts the journey but let us make time and reserve some energy for where the real learning happens…which is long past the classroom.

Nicola Blackmore