Is it Percentage or Performance?

I just read a post on my LinkedIn Group from Steven Oesterreich, Managing Director Asia Pacific – Ark Group, who is launching a few questions about all types of Learning. His first topic caught my eye [captured below]…and the questions he put forth…and the comments they generated… triggered a thought I felt important enough to share.

Steven’s First Topic: 70:20:10

This concept, has been around for quite a while, based upon research from 30 years ago:

  • 70% of learning comes from on-the-job experiences
  • 20% comes from people (particularly a role model or manager)
  • 10% comes from formal courses and reading

Most will agree that it is to be used as guide, but is [it] still the correct guide to be using? With the advent the constantly changing marketplace and of usable social technology over the last 5 years especially, should it not be 60:20:20 or some have suggested to me 80:15:5?

And here are the high points of the ensuing comments…

  • From Anne Bartlett Bragg, Managing Director, Ripple Effect Group – Asia Pacific

Daring to be even more controversial… perhaps it’s just 90:10 – as the 70 & 20 are very difficult to distinguish in changing workplace.
90% we learn from others, on the job, through experience – informal learning
10% is qualification related – academic, regulatory etc – formal learning.
Or does this over simplify?

  • From Stacey Edmonds, Founder & MD Lively, specialising in Digital Learning & Gamification

ooo… do love a bit of controversy… Could I really put the cat amongst the chickens and suggest we simply leave the concept behind? We are human – we live and we learn in our environment. How we learn will depend on, to name a few… our preferences, situation, availability of resources and, like, bandwidth…

Being a performance consultant at the core, my thoughts; rather, my answers to both questions, are standard consultant-speak – “It Depends!”

And it does…depend…that is…on the true circumstances surrounding the business outcomes we are seeking to achieve to the extent they are restrained by the performance gaps we are attempting to overcome. I cannot think of anything more unique to an individual business than that. While they may fall into categories like competition, regulatory, workflow changes, etc. methinks trying to attach a percentage on how much informal versus formal versus collaborative learning is required, at best, a moving target. If we are skewing design to meet a percentage target, we’ve missed the spirit behind 70:20:10…or 80:20…or 90:10…or even 68:19:13. Step away from the percentage…

I tend to side with Stacey’s comments…“leave the concept behind” and “we live and we learn in our environment”…and I tend to believe that the “environment” defining each organizations’ learning and performance ecosystem is unique. Attempting to put learning and performance support into specific sized boxes is an unnecessary complication. For this camper, the objective is clearly one of driving performance…versus adhering to concept percentages.

Return to your homes…there is nothing more to see here.

Gary G. Wise
Workforce Performance Advocate, Coach, Speaker 
(317) 437-2555
Web: Living In Learning