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learning matters

Getting Training in Gear

Its time to reframe the 70-20-10 ratio as a system and engage in inquiry
from the perspective of what a performer needs to know, do, and believe.

any industries run on heuristics: rules the distinct learning contexts defined by the ratio.
of thumb that curious and insightful More important, in this rendering of the ratio, the
pioneers have studied in depth and sim fact that the training gear is the smallest creates a
plified into succinct formulas, rules, or ratios that
become part of the vernacular in a given sector.
In this respect, the training industry is no differ
ent. Thanks to thought leaders such as Alan Tough,
Michael Lombardo, Robert Eichinger, Gloria Gery,
Jay Cross, and Charles Jennings, the 70-20-10 ratio
has become part of the lingua franca of learning.
Tony O Driscoll is According to the ratio, 70 percent of learning
regional managing happens through work experience. Some 20 per
director of Duke CE in cent comes from learning through others who
Singapore, where he are kind enough to provide us with feedback and
focuses on identifying
guidance as we climb our professional learning OfcUers
curves. That leaves a mere 10 percent allocated to
and implementing
formal training activities. leverage point that can engage the two other learn
ing gears within the development system.
learning strategies
and approaches
The 70-20-10 ratio often is depicted as a continu E N S U R IN G O P T IM A L S Y S T E M P E R F O R M A N C E
that accelerate the um or scale where 90 percent of the learning that The key to ensuring that the development system
development of happens in the organization is categorized as in stays in gear and delivers optimal performance lies
Leadership Sense- formal and the remaining 10 percent is reserved in asking six critical questions:
Abilities in this rapidly for the formality of the classroom. 1. What must performers do more, better, or
growing part of the But as Peter Henschel, former executive direc differently to improve their performance?
world. tor of the Institute for Research on Learning, put 2. What kinds of practices and routines must be
it: If more than two-thirds of the learning in or institutionalized in the workplace to achieve and
ganizations happens informally, can we afford to sustain the desired performance?
leave it up to chance? 3. What do the performers need to know to
In recent work with clients, we have found it perform at peak levels?
beneficial to reframe the 70-20-10 ratio by de 4. What authentic problems or challenges can
picting it as a development system with three you, the L&D professional, bring from the work
learning gears that represent the different learn place into the classroom to better contextualize
ing contexts (see graphic above, right). formal training activities?
The first, and smallest, gear represents what 5. From whom do the performers need to receive
people must know in order to perform and is real-time feedback on their work performance
achieved by learning through training. The sec and how will it be delivered?
ond, and biggest, gear represents what people 6. What kinds of assessments and coaching are re
must do in order to perform and is achieved by quired to enable performers to recognize the role
learning through experience. The third gear repre their behavior plays in improving individual and
sents what people must believe in order to perform organizational performance?
and is achieved by learning through others. By reframing the 70-20-10 ratio as a system, we
In representing the 70-20-10 ratio as a set of gears can ensure that learning through training becomes
within a larger developmental system, we can a flywheel in developing the capabilities required to
start to explore the key linkages between each of drive performance. D

138 I JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 tr a in in g w w w .tra in in g m a g .c o m

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