70:20:10? Or Is It…85:12:3?


To answer the question suggested by the title I offer another question – “Who gives a rip?” – as long as the end-game drives sustained workforce capability. The correct ratio is only correct if the end-game is reached. Even Charles Jennings has said 70:20:10 is only a guideline; not a hard and fast ratio that must be met. It’s the spirit and intention behind the ratio that matters – not the actual spread. We have to snatch off the training paradigm glasses and start looking through performance paradigm googles. Why googles? Because it gets really windy when we…as the L&D organization…must travel fast enough to match the velocity of business demand…and that ain’t happenin’ if Training is our only ride…too slow and clunky.

To meet the speed of business demand and the continuous nature of change we must be nimble, we must be quick, and that means rethinking the training shtick. Sorry…weak moment, but there’s truth in my nonsense. Creating sustainable performance readiness in our workforce demands a nimbleness and agility in learning and performance support that is at least as nimble and agile as the workforce we need to support. Training alone cannot do that. It cannot keep up. At some point we cannot peddle any faster, and we ultimately get lapped by demand…or worse…the competition.

Go back to Gottfredson’s Five Moments of Need and see where true business value is created. It’s at moment #3 – APPLY – and that’s not during training no matter how experiential it might be. Moment #3 manifests at the point-of-work where learners become performers and they work without a net…meaning they either create value or squander it. So…give ‘em a net. Overcome knowledge retention loss by providing seamless, frictionless, ubiquitous access to the right end-users…with the right intentionally designed assets…at their right moment of need…in the right task-centric amount…in the right readily consumable format…to/from the right devices. That’s the kind of solutions that are foundational to a learning and performance paradigm.

If we develop and deliver access to assets of that nature then the percentage spread is irrelevant. That said, I can promise you that the majority of the learning experience that gets pushed out to the “70” will likely meet or exceed 70%. We cannot get wrapped around the axle of meeting a percentage mix and become distracted from what we really need to be producing as our ultimate solution – sustainable performance. If we are not producing that kind of outcome consistently, then we really need to question what the heck are we doing with our time.

Who knows…we might find when we get into the point-of-work that a performance discovery just might point to a solution mix of 90:10:0, or even worse, 100:0:0. Then what do we do with those other buckets? Fill ‘em full of ice and peel-n-eat shrimp! Would that be such a problem? Methinks not, if after all is said and done, we move the performance needle forward and it sticks. We have to be courageous enough to NOT apologize for coming up with a response to a training request with something as radical as performance support and no training is even necessary.

If your leadership is stoked on 70:20:10, throw performance support into the “70” bucket and call it training. I think it was Allison Rossett who said something along those lines. “Just do it…and call it training!”


Okay, now that I’ve calmed down a little, I will say that this performance paradigm concept may sound radical. Maybe not radical, but it smells like change for sure. I see a lot of companies recognizing the benefits of PS and showing signs of sniffing around the edges of the performance support paradigm. Next comes sipping the PS Kool-Aid, and then the craving is flung upon them to give in to the lure of a bright, shiny piece of EPS technology. It’s exciting when that happens. Everybody wants to dive in and start driving results. They are ready…but…the organization is not at readiness to negotiate their way through the journey to full adoption.

One-and-done is often the result if you jump in the deep end and buy your technology too soon. You’d think we would’ve learned given the number of LMS owners who bought in because everybody else was before fully defining the attribute and requirements of their ecosystem. And yes…you DO have a learning and performance ecosystem. The goal is mapping how optimized it is…and/or  could be…should be.

Define your organization’s readiness first. Step away from the technology for now. There are too many EPS vendors out there who look attractive, and they all have solid product offerings that excel at EPS at a high level, but under the hood each one of them has a discrete sweet spot. The question becomes one of matching up their sweet spot with your learning and performance ecosystem requirements today…and tomorrow. That takes an EPS readiness assessment to identify your current state of readiness and accurately define the gaps across attributes of people, content, process, technology and measurement present…or absent…in your ecosystem.

Join me at Learning Solutions/Ecosystems 2016 in Orlando this coming March for a breakout session on EPS Readiness Assessments. Even if you can’t make the conference, the preceding rant is still valid.

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