From the Desk of the Training Director: Training by the Numbers

Have you heard of 70:20:10?  If you haven’t, you’ve probably seen some of the side effects in recent years.  Based on research by Morgan McCall and his colleagues at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), the 70:20:10 Model has become a new lens for organizations to view how they dedicate resources and integrate strategy towards learning and development activities.

Based on a survey asking nearly 200 executives to self-report how they believed they learned, McCall and CCL concluded that:

“Lessons learned by successful and effective managers are roughly:

  • 70% from challenging assignments
  • 20% from developmental relationships
  • 10% from coursework and training

This research gives us a new way to look at how we support learning across our organizations.  Learning must be integrated across the what happens in the classroom, supportive relationships post-training, and real world work assignments facilitating application; no singular element accounts for all learning.  Unfortunately, some people read 70:20:10 and hear the message, “training is unimportant – it’s only 10%.”  This is a mistake.

Learning, training, development, and application are all topics we care about deeply at MSEC. Recently, I was talking with a colleague about the growth of “micro-learning” interventions.  We’ve all seen the advertisements for online training resources that take the time and pain out of training.   Some companies are even advertising down to the second (“Get all you need to know about workplace harassment in 10 minutes and 45 seconds!  Got five more minutes? We’ll throw in sex . . . sexual harassment that is.”).  We’ve even started getting more into online learning options with webinars and our Monday Morning videos (And be on the lookout towards the end of the year as we launch new online learning options for our members!).  As we all have more demands and less time, have we begun sacrificing quality of learning for the time it takes?

At its core, it’s the distinction between information and knowledge. A YouTube video may provide you with information of how to repair your faucet, for example, but a plumber has the knowledge to understand what needs to be fixed and how (knowledge that took training, apprenticeships, and years of experience to develop).  Yet we watch a 5 minute YouTube video and we think we’re plumbers.

Is there a middle ground?  I think all learning professionals would agree that face-to-face and the time dedicated for adult learning interaction is best.  AND we have more options today to enhance and extend learning opportunities for all of our employees.  Some content might lend itself well to a video.  Some might lend itself well to self-paced online instruction.  Perhaps online communities of practice and social learning would be a good fit for your culture.  And other topics maybe need some face-to-face time spread out over multiple sessions.  The key is your learning strategy.  What are your goals?  What are you trying to accomplish as a business?  What are you willing to invest related to time, money, and resources? Pick the approach that best aligns with your end goals.

Still not sure?  Give us a call.  We’d be happy to talk to you about what strategies work best for your business.