The Great 70-20-10 Debate
Sponsored by the Debunker Club
- London ---- 1600 (4PM)
- Boston/New York ---- 1200 (Noon)
- San Francisco ---- 900 (9AM)
Twitter Hashtag ---- #DebunkDebate
Moderators: Will Thalheimer and Clark Quinn
Notable Contributors: Charles Jennings and Jos Arets (developers and proponents of 70-20-10)
The 70-20-10 reference model is indisputably one of the most recognized models in the workplace learning-and-performance field.
As with any paradigm-challenging model, it has both proponents and critics.
Given the importance of the 70-20-10 meme, it's time we had a debate!!
How to join in -- listening or contributing to the debate:
At the appointed time, go to Twitter and search for #DebunkDebate.
After the debate, feel free to continue the debate at this LinkedIn Article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/great-70-20-10-twitter-debate-will-thalheimer/
- THIS IS A TWITTER DEBATE
This is a Twitter Debate. You can view the action by doing a search for the hashtag #DebunkDebate (caps NOT needed, either way works). If you want to participate, you will need a Twitter account, which are free.
- COME PREPARED
Read up on what the 70-20-10 concept is all about. Short version: The 70-20-10 model states that people learn 70% of what they've learned through experience, 20% of what they've learned from their connection to others, and 10% of what they've learned through formal training and education.
- HOW A TWITTER DEBATE WORKS
We will all gather together at once. Will Thalheimer and Clark Quinn will be moderators. We will ask a series of questions and you, as a participant, will respond if you are so inclined. You may respond more than once to each question. Questions will come from Will's Twitter account (@WillWorkLearn) and will be repeated by Clark (@Quinnovator) a minute or so later.
Questions will use the format Q1) et cetera. So that the first question will be something like: "Q1) Welcome to the GREAT 70-20-10 Twitter Debate. Before we begin, tell us who you are and where you're tweeting from! #debunkdebate." THE HASHTAG IS CRITICAL.
To answer the question, you might type something like, "A1) I'm Will Thalheimer near Boston, working in the workplace learning space doing research-based consulting. #DebunkDebate." AGAIN THE HASHTAG (#DebunkDebate) IS CRITICAL. It enables all of us to search to see what you write. You can search using Twitter, but you'll be better off using a tweet-viewing app like Tweetdeck, which will allow you, for FREE, to monitor our message stream while tweeting yourself. USING TWEETDECK: Add a COLUMN, selecting the SEARCH function, then put #DebunkDebate into the search field.
Each answer period takes 3-5 minutes, depending on the number or answers, the crosstalk, etc. The whole experience will take about 60 minutes. We will aim for one hour.
Twitter chats often feel strange at first. It's best to just go with the flow, have fun with it, bring something to nibble and drink, kick back, or kick ass (politely).
- PLANNED QUESTIONS
Note: These may be modified as we go along...
- Q1) Welcome to the GREAT 70-20-10 Twitter Debate. Before we begin, tell us who you are and where you're tweeting from! #DebunkDebate
- Q2) Please share your current understanding of the main points of the 70-20-10 Model. Do NOT PRAISE OR CRITIQUE at this point! #DebunkDebate
- Q3) How do you feel about the 70-20-10 Model? Like it? Hate it? Like somethings and not others? #DebunkDebate
- Q4) Models should send correct messages!!! What good messages does the 70-20-10 Model send? JUST GOOD MESSAGES NOW! #DebunkDebate
- Q5) What bad or incomplete messages does the 70-20-10 Model send? JUST BAD MESSAGES NOW! #DebunkDebate
- Q6) What about the percentages (70% experiential, 20% social, 10% formal) Research support? Distinctions meaningful, relevant? #DebunkDebate
- Q7) What would GOOD RESEARCH on workplace non-formal learning look like? #DebunkDebate
- Q8) What specific activities are suggested by 70-20-10 advocates to spur workplace non-formal learning? #DebunkDebate
- Q9) Are these practices useful? Do they get results? What is the evidence? #DebunkDebate
- Q10) Where do we go from here? What suggestions to you have for how we should view and/or use the 70-20-10 Model? #DebunkDebate
- Q11) Have you changed your mind about the 70-20-10 Model based on our discussion? If so how? #DebunkDebate
- Q12) Thank you for contributing today. What future Twitter Discussions would you like to have? #DebunkDebate
- Q13) Again, tell us who you are. Shameless plugs are welcome too! #DebunkDebate
5. DEBATE ONLINE DISCUSSION...
Feel free to continue the debate at this LinkedIn Article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/great-70-20-10-twitter-debate-will-thalheimer/
Some Pre-Debate Reactions to the 70-20-10 Concept
- This concept is a useful tool for having conversations with stakeholders who believe training is the only option. It is a way to get them thinking about how their employees develop, and how they can enable that quickly and easily.
- Very little of it I know, dont think any thoughts yet.
- On the job learning proves stronger connections and faster retrieval of information when needed , tested batch after batch! But how do we design every training program to provide that is a challenge..
- No empirical evidence on the model
- Has created a more disciplined process for us to consider true business goals.
- Look at the 70-20-10 as guide not as the be all end all of design. Sometimes you need more of the 70, sometimes more of the 20, and sometimes more of the 10.
- The numbers aren’t what matters, it’s the idea of placing the most emphasis on learning on the job/in the moment, then a little less on learning from others and the least on formal learning.
- I understand and can appreciate it as a general framework/approach to cultivating a learning environment and ecosystem. Like other approaches, people seem to try to apply it too literally and inflexibly.
- "It makes it easy for people to understand how they can improve and develop
- It help people recognise and put a deliberate focus/value on workplace learning (experiential/social)
- It helps L&D focus their efforts on enabling workplace learning, rather than leaving it to chance and investing all their effort in structured programs
- It helps L&D adopt a more holistic view of performance and the factors that enable and hinder performance"
- Don’t let the ratios mess with your head. This is a performance model not an instructional design blue print.
- It seems more applicable to leadership development than other domains yet many ascribe it to other domains.
- All three areas of 70-20-10 are important, but the 70 is the biggest because you have to get out and experience, trial and error to really get good at what you want to accomplish.
- we focus on blended learning mainly aligned with objectives and being a highly regulated industry the preference is strongly direct the learning activities
"1) 70-20-10 deals with quantity of learning, not quality of learning.
2) If it exists, it should be 10-20-70. Doesn't sound as cool, but the foundation learning is essential. "
- "I think the 70-20-10 works very well to argue that managers must take responsibility for their employees' learning, and that sending people to training doesn't do the job.
- However, I know it's just a myth and it's not backed by science or data. If only we had something we could use for the same purpose, but even then it wouldn't be so popular as this 70-20-10!"
- Everyone speaks about itm nobody supports it
- "1) To somehow assume that ""formal learning"" plays such a small role compared to ""on the job"" and ""learning from others"" essentially ignores instructional design quality in favor of instructional format. Will, you've done a ton of research (and even research on research) about instructional approaches, and it's clear that quality ID trumps format.
- Moreover, to make an arbitrary assumption like 70-20-10 also ignores the quality of the colleague's instruction and the learning environment in the workplace.
- In addition, if 70-20-10 is as effective as those who claim it is (and sell it as ""effective""), then perhaps we should drop public and private schools altogether, and throw people directly into the workforce; after all, we can just learn from doing and from others (regardless of how good they are at teaching) right?
- Finally, I am wondering who came up with these percentages. It seems oddly coincidental that the percentages would all land perfectly on factors of 10. "
- It sounds to me a lot like the old saying (unsupported by research), "We learn little from what we hear, a bit more from what we say, and a lot from what we do." Later people conflated that saying with Dale's "cone of experience," which was also not validated by research. Apparently - as our current political leaders demonstrate - if you come up with something that SOUNDS true, that's more important than actually BEING true.
- It's not a model.It's a heuristic that simplifies complex learning challenges. It doesn't explain how variables interact or in what sequence. It doesn't guide the design of learning toward a desired outcome. It's a 30,000 foot view at best.
- Not sure you can ever get to a "defined" percentage. We do know that most learning comes from peers and doing the work. Big lesson for orgs is that performance support or readily accessible supporting information (process, procedures, knowledge base, etc.) is a worthwhile investment. But who owns, maintains?
- Evidence lacking that this works.
- The reason why I generally like 70-20-10 is that the quality and effectiveness of training varies widely. Given the variability of effectiveness, in the end I think that only 10% of learning likely takes place via formal training while the rest is learned on the job and through others.
- "Even if there was science to back up the numbers, what bothers me most about the model is the assumption that 10% formal training is the preferred percentage - not the percentage that we're stuck with because most companies won't pay for good training.
- And of course, people might think they learn 70% on the job - but what if half of what they learn is wrong."
- I like the idea of getting people to practice the skills they are learning. Learning is one aspect to changing behaviors; you need to DO IT to achieve the gain.
- "I doubt the numbers are accurate. Whatever the split, I do know that people learn from experience, through others, and in orchestrated training experiences. In my experience in the profession of sales training and performance consulting, leaving too much to chance does not change organizational (sales force) behavior, nor improve top or bottom-line sales results.
- By creating a learning system with effective learning experiences (formal training based on top-producer analysis and needs/gap analysis) with flipped classrooms and post-training skill development with orchestrated skill practice with feedback loops, the right environment (influencing the experience piece), and engaging frontline managers for reinforcement and coaching (influencing the people piece), I have been successful in driving change and improving performance. This is how I have used the general principle, without getting caught up in the numbers.
- On the flip side, I have seen social learning (an attempt to influence the 20), bomb horribly. In one case, an Intranet community was formed using a discussion board format, and it became a cesspool of horrible sales advice. Mostly those who needed help used it, so either the blind led the blind or the one-eyed became king. We tried to seed the board with some top producers, but they lost interest quickly. We ended up moderating for a while and eventually closed it down. We tried a top-producer board for a while, with some success in capturing best practices, but they preferred to contact people directly when they had a question or needed assistance in some way. "
- The concept is starting to take root in corporate environments, but like a game of telegraph as the concept is spread through the corporation its message is diluted and changed beyond recognition.
- I am uncomfortable with how the model assumes that how people learn also dictates the environment (from others and hands-on aren't restricted to outside of learning solutions for instance) and how it simplifies to the point of excluding other important factors like repetition.
- "I think that costs and capacities are exponentially related to 70 20 10 figures. and that means that what we design after the 70 have to be carefully chosen
- It is further evidence the current state of training is not good. That's the reason why some believe that 70% of learning is in the field, or on the job. Training can be HIGHLY effective if CRI is applied. But most trainers just have no interest in that.
- 70-20-10 always struck me as a bit too prescriptive for a "formula" that was created via a rather limited poll. The pattern seems to fit, but certainly is not perfect.
- Blind attribution of instructional design to the 70-20-10 concept - too much pigeon-holing.
- I really like the concept that people learn most from doing their job and working with peers. It is a great platform to have a discussion with the businesss about the need for a course and how, if a course is the right solution, we might help the learning stick.
- We (MIVB Academy - Brussels Public Transportation) once organized a two day boot-camp-like training. Subject: 'contact rail-wheel'. A topic most important in the world of rail transportation, believe me. It was exclusively an ex cathedra training, situated in the smaller 10% of the model and... it worked wonders. All of the attendees were experts in the field and the speaker was one of the most renowned specialists worldwide in that same field. Attendees from all over the world. The participants had avidly been jotting down all of the theoretic concepts (the whiteboard was ridden with them every 30 minutes), without having time to lift up their heads... no way they could have grasped all this in a 70% or 20% approach. And they loved it!
- "Would like to know how it works in practice. Sounds good in theory but the nitty gritty of how to implement (especially where leaders are new and unexperienced).
- Also what is the role of L&D in the 70 and the 20."
- The exact numbers are indefensible. The principle is undeniable.
- IM glad that it opens discussions about the nature of workplace learning but many take the numbers too literally with the fast pace of change now, I believe the 20 is a lot higher and that learning from people and leveraging social networks will be a key success factor in the future. Those who grow their network to help them tackle new challenges will be the high achievers and innovators of the future
- Like any model, if one follows it slavishly, then problems will arise. As a principle that in the workplace one is more likely to learn how to do the job in one way or another is fairly sound - a mixture of both capacity and opportunity. Personally I believe it's the wrong way round - when you start work, you go on a course (10); into the workplace to learn the ropes and get coached(20); get on with the work and learn through practice (70)
- The formula helps setting the agenda for informal learning, but then it starts translating informal learning into organised learning which has nothing tot do about informal learning anymore.
- Sloppy science for cooperate players that are more concerned with end results than how they get there (not being a jerk, just truth). I'm fine with a bit of Machiavelli, in general, that's business, but please don't pretend that what you are talking about is in any way "academic." This is clearly pseudoscience, not learning science. I'll need to be convinced that you are NOT selling this as learning science, and this is not doing more harm than good.
- It's a bit fuzzy to me and seems hard, perhaps impossible, to measure.
- I feel like intuitively this model makes sense, but I know many things that seem like common sense don't actually stand up to scrutiny or research. I suspect what truth and value there is in the model isn't in the exact numbers, but in expanding the recognition of learning beyond formal training.
- If training professionals read the source documents that are the genesis of the 70-20-10 concept, they would be better informed. 70-20-10 has no grounded research and due to its simplicity is has been an easy and vacant concept that has been applied to everything from a framework for budgeting to a formula for designing instruction. There is a dissertation in the 70-20-10 “concept” to relate the rise of concept to changes in the funding of training organization, the rise of e-learning and the democratization of training.
Supports an old model that somehow I really just need to learn on the job. Really poor execution of what could be a good model -- but with no numbers.
- How I would apply this concept depends on the learner's grasp of the basics and the topic to be learned. For a total novice and a complex subject, my mix might be closer to 20-30-50
Interesting idea- but does it have an empirical basis
- "As a concept or an observation of fact, I appreciate it. What I do not appreciate is it being used as a rule to support ill-thought out Learning and Performance interventions, especially when used as an excuse for cost-cutting.
- Don't get me wrong, I am no defender of classroom training or elearnings; but all things should be done with a solid reasoning on delivering worthwhile business impact."
- "During the years you develop a set of skills and successful habits. (70%?) Only when your habits fail, you start to look for alternatives.
- Only in a course you are invited (forced?) to look at alternative approaches and you can consider to replace your successful solution(s) with even better solution(s)."
If we were to validate the model then it would align more with apprenticeships
- It's an arbitrary artificial structure -- i.e. a metaphor -- that should be taken seriously as such, because it corresponds to an instinctive perception we have of the proportions. Its significance is that things should be organized for learning that take into account those three perceptual dimensions: 1. being alone as a problem-solver in the world (70%), 2. being in contact -- even networking -- with others and who have acquired similar (but different) experience and who can pitch in , 3. going through the compliance rituals, whatever they may be. Dimension 1: my own identity. Dimension 2: my peer status, Dimension 3: my relationship with institutions (enterprise, school, etc.).
- Its not a one-size-fits-all approach. It sounds good and is a nice theory. However, i have yet to actually see it implemented in its purest form and be successful. Rather, it is used as a means to justify budget then is thrown out the widow
- More often in the current climate, this is tied to 80% is good enough and there is no longer need for formal learning, even is skill / knowledge gaps are benchmarked. Have not seen any real "science" to back this up.
- Unfair use of numbers to give the concept a scientific varnish!
- I wish it didn't have the numbers connection because the numbers detract from the value.
- I don’t like the precision of the numbers but the whole concept helps me to explain to my organization that most learning takes place outside of the formal classroom. That other learning should be recognized, planned for, supported and in some ways documented as part of our organizational commitment to employee career development.
"There are many models like this - unvetted, unresearched, that we like to throw around in training. The problem is when they shift from being someone's observations or anecdotes to suddenly accepted fact and theory.
- Can't we come up with a better way of evaluating these models before they become monsters? When they enter the domain of senior leaders who hear them at some conference and then come back ""I want the 70-20-10 model followed in our corporate learning function..."" it's too late.
- (I'm terribly sorry I can't make the debate...I have a scheduled work function at that time. I look forward to the results of the discussion!)
- "Data or just a guess
- Role of mentor coach teacher colleague
- Ratios vary in practice according to context.
- Has ANY study been done on this? Relevant to L&D professionals?
- I do not like the discounting of courses/programs so much, especially in highly technical environments, however I believe that feedback is necessary and cannot be totally removed from learning, as well as putting skills into practice is a must. I think it really depends on the type of skill/competency (technical, behavioural etc) and can only be viewed as a highly simplistic model.
- All Learning begins as Informal until someone decides to make it Formal - usually when the Informal approach isn't cutting it. While most of the concepts are valid the numbers are problematic and get in the way IMO, not even including where they originally came from. Imagine Six Sigma promoters/practitioners declaring that they didn't really mean only 3.4 problems out of every million opportunities. Otherwise it's an acknowledgement that Formal isn't always necessary and/or practical.
Just like the forgetting curve, this concept is not backed up by science.
- Well, I feel that what the 702010 concept stands for is great. The change they drive is super important and their first book has a ton of high quality stuff in it. All 3 authors are definitely very knowledgeable people. However, what I keep struggling with is the attempt to organise learning experiences in 70, 20, or 10. To me this is super unhelpful and feels artificial.