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Leveraging 70:20:10 with Performance Support

Charles Jennings and his team at the 70:20:10 Forum are doing remarkable work in positioning an innovative learning blend that is becoming widely pursued and known as simply 70:20:10. Many organizations are either adopting this new “blend” or are considering how to embed aspects of it into their own methodologies for creating effective learning. Personally, I cannot point to a better structure that is more compelling in which to include Performance Support [PS]. 70:20:10 does indeed embrace PS; however I would take this “blend” and “extend it” even more broadly with PS embedded throughout.

Andrew Gerkins, of the 70:20:10 Solutions Team, just released a great whitepaper, “Workplace Learning That Works” where he introduces the Adding – Embedding – Extracting Model [AEEM] that supports 70:20:10. In the AEEM, Andrew rightly shows where the possibility of PS fits. Maybe it is my own biases toward Embedded PS [EPS] as a discipline that prompts me to suggest that there exists an opportunity to fully embed an underlying EPS discipline, and extend it, to play a larger and a more integrated role. [See Figure #1]

70:20:10 & EPS
Figure #1

Where I see the opportunity to “extend the blend” in 70:20:10 are the three components shown in Figure #1. In an earlier post, I discussed the concept of “intentional design”, and I really feel we may miss some of the power 70:20:10 represents if we become too enamored with the model being a training design and development model only. Based on Andrew’s white paper, this is not the case, but I offer a caution to go with this new model: The “intention” behind the design and development decisions we make, while being based on agile practices, CANNOT exclusively focus on rapid development of training or learning content. Our objective, as I state in the earlier post, is not to simply reduce time-to-training…but to allow our intentions to target reducing time-to-business-impact as a priority.

I’m convinced this can happen using the 70:20:10 model as long as we do not restrict EPS to a post-training [post 10%] discipline and limit PS assets to post-training experiential [70%] content. As illustrated in Figure #1, the intentionally-designed PS assets are shown being used throughout the 70:20:10 model. It is important to note that the “70%” slice of the model should not be limited to “experiential learning” in the context of simulations and/or role-based exercises within a training course regardless of the blend.

To me, the line-of-sight of the 70% is that the PS assets should extend not only into experiential exercises, but into the post-training work context. In spirit I believe that was the intent behind the 70%. What I’ve seen happening is a tendency to lock the 70% into experiential exercises in the context of learning…and PS is a post-training afterthought. PS assets should serve in both 10% and 70%…and the 70% should not be limited to a training deployment venue.

The opportunity is easily missed as well where those same PS assets could be re-used to support the 20% as shown for the collaborative aspects of continuous learning and support. Likewise, if we go to the trouble of building PS assets for post-training performance support at the point of work, why not use the exact same assets in the 20% and the 10% as collaborative support, and in role-specific, task-centric exercises and activities?

The Role of Agile

Another consideration is the “agile” methodology you may choose to follow. Again, agile is not just for achieving “rapid development”; rather, your agile methodology should emphasize the prioritization of PS asset development and early deployment based upon task analysis results. This is done for the simple reason that those PS assets can be deployed immediately and made accessible to end-user groups via technology to test and provide feedback. This incremental implementation gives us valuable feedback loop [Extraction] with which to iterate and fine-tune the PS assets for inclusion [ADDING] into the learning flow. The added bonus is this…you stand a really good chance of incrementally closing a performance gap during this early deployment and generating hard dollar business impact.

That being a very real outcome…why wait until an entire course is built over an 8-to-16 week development cycle when an intentionally designed PS asset can be designed, developed and deployed via technology in a week or so?

70:20:10 truly is a model that can be holistic enough to handle the entire learning ecosystem…BUT…we must adopt it with the intentions to do so. 70:20:10 is not a replacement to ADDIE. If we only use 70:20:10 as a training development methodology, then we are missing the true spirit and power of the approach. My position is that Performance Support should be woven throughout the model; and any opportunity to deploy PS assets early and often should not be missed. The downstream post-training point of work is too rich in potential to impact the business. So…think “extended blend” through the adoption of 70:20:10 because it is bigger than a training methodology if we apply it with the EPS discipline and intentional design in mind.

Gary Wise
Performance & Learning Solutions Strategist
(317) 437-2555

When I run across a related book resource I will make the suggestion at the end of the post as you see below.
Click the image to go to Amazon.com directly for details and to purchase the book.

  1. July 24, 2014 at 12:54 pm
  2. Daniela Garza Bilbao
    July 24, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    Super Gary, I would love to read about your opinion/recommendation for training methodologies that can smooth transference from formal learning into collaborative and experimental learning. Great post, as usual.

  3. July 27, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Gary, my concern with much of what is written about 70:20:10 is that it is written from the perspective of it being a way to make formal learning interventions and content more useful by ‘reusing’ them closer to where the work is actually done. I firmly believe that the most important work-related learning happens by accident, when the learner wasn’t trying to ‘learn’ something, but rather was trying to ‘do’ something. The role of performance support (or what I prefer to call business process guidance) is to provide job-related guidance so that ‘accidental learning’ is the inevitable consequence ‘properly guided doing’. I don’t see 70:20:10 as a training development methodology – it is a training avoidance methodology. The real perfomance comes from the 70 and that is about doing, not learning. The learning is accidental if the doing is happening. That’s the real value of performance support (aka business process guidance).

    • July 28, 2014 at 8:27 am

      Ted, thanks for reading and sharing your comments. I agree for the most part with your thoughts about 70:20:10 not being [exclusively] a training development methodology; however I think the danger is that it may be used in that manner…which is the main point of my post. I’m not sure I would call it a “training avoidance” methodology; rather a “training minimization” method.

      I say that in the same spirit that “agile” design methods should not be limited to rapid development as the key outcome sought. I like the thinking that much learning within the workflow can be “accidental”; though I would have chosen “incidental” as the descriptive simply because the user was not really intending to learn…but to do. What I think can support the use of “incidental over “accidental” is the concept I promote of “intentional design” meaning that the design process is truly based upon guiding a user through a business process with the intent to support the user at the moment of need without having to leave the workflow to succeed at the associated task. Is that “accidental” or “incidental”?

      I would like to think there was a discovery process that placed PS assets in the workflow “intentionally” to facilitate those occasions where learning might take place by executing a task with PS assets applied at the moment of need. I think we’re on the same page here, just a choice of words. You know I’ve been a fan of “business process guidance” since I first heard it from you guys. I actually like BPG better than performance support because it does a better job articulating what we’re really trying to accomplish.

      70:20:10 may not be the ultimate methodology, but until I find something better, it has the greatest chance of leveraging the experiential component in the 70%. BUT…if the 70% is relegated to “learning” and the assets designed for the 70% were not “intentionally designed” for “doing” versus “learning”, then it is just another layer of lipstick on the training pig.

  1. July 24, 2014 at 12:35 pm
  2. July 30, 2014 at 5:53 am
  3. July 30, 2014 at 6:09 am
  4. September 9, 2014 at 1:11 pm
  5. October 29, 2014 at 3:21 am
  6. June 20, 2015 at 7:07 am

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