How to apply 70 20 10 to ANY type of learning programme (examples included!)

70 20 10 Methodology

70 20 10 is one of the most well-known learning and development theories/models out there. It’s regarded as one of the front runners for creating effective blended learning interventions.

But what is it, and how can it be applied to a learning intervention? Well wonder no more, as we’ll be exploring these very topics in this article.

What is 70:20:10?

The 70 20 10 institute define it as:

  • 70 percent of learning comes from experience, experiment and reflection.
  • 20 percent derives from working with others.
  • 10 percent comes from formal interventions and planned learning solutions.

Why is it so popular?

I think the model is so popular because it’s simple to follow and is a good reference point to remind you that learning happens outside of the classroom. In fact, most of it (70%) take’s place on the job.

It also isn’t overly prescriptive, yes there are percentages there, but it doesn’t need to be followed verbatim. It just gives you a guide of how best to shape learning interventions.

There are however views that it’s time to move away from the model. That the model is too rigid and doesn’t account for the modern, agile approach to learning we have today. I’ll leave it to you to make your own opinions as to whether 70 20 10 is right for you/your organisation. If you’re just using it as a reference point and not as the holy grail, then you’ll find its still a useful model to reference whilst creating learning interventions.

What are the key learning elements?

70 20 10 methodology examples
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The model suggests that:

  • 70% of people’s learning at work is whilst on the job, through experiential learning, formal line manager feedback on the job i.e. during appraisal, reflection, shadowing, observation etc.
  • 20% of learning is informal learning from others. Such as watching videos, reading blogs or articles from subject matter experts, accessing coaching/mentoring or getting feedback from others.
  • The final 10% is formal training. Such as attending a formal training programme or e-learning etc.

As learning professionals, sometimes we get the percentages the wrong way around. Putting our emphasis on the 10% and forgetting about the transfer of learning back onto the job, where it’ll be used.

When creating learning programmes, consider what opportunities you can create for transfer of learning into both the 20% and 70%.

How to use the model effectively?

To consider all 3 elements whilst planning learning, start with the 3 areas, not just the learning ‘event’ in isolation. If you’re only focussing on the 10% then you’re putting all your energy and effort into the smallest section.

Better use of time would be to focus on the 70% on the job and making sure the approach to learning transfer and support from colleagues/line manager etc. is as strong as it can be, then informal learning (either curated or created content) and finally the formal learning last.

How to apply 70 20 10 to any type of learning programme

Below are examples of how 70 20 10 could be applied to different types of learning intervention.

Aspiring Leaders Programme

Aspiring leaders programme 70 20 10
– Acting up responsibility on a casual basis
– Working on new projects
– Deputising for line manager
– Shadowing an experienced colleague
– Getting feedback on performance through appraisal
– Mentoring from another internal or external leader
– Attending an aspiring leaders peer learning group
– Watching leadership and management videos
– Reading blog posts or articles on the latest leadership thinking  
– Attending a series of leadership development training sessions either virtually or face to face

New employee induction

New employee induction banner 70 20 10 example
– Having a clear induction plan with objectives from line manager about how to achieve objectives
– On the job training plan of the specific tasks they need to learn from colleagues to achieve their objectives
– Shadowing experienced colleagues
– Feedback from line manager on their progress  
– Feedback from peers whilst completing tasks for the first time
– Being assigned a buddy they can ask questions to  
– Attending an induction or organisational welcome event
– Attending any mandatory training

Health and Safety – Ladder Safety Training

Health and safety training banner 70 20 10 example
– Observation of safe use of ladders whilst on the job
– Regular monitoring of use of ladders
– Feedback on safe use of equipment from observation– Receiving initial ladder training and practicing skill

Customer Service Training

Customer Service Training example 70 20 10 example
– Practice speaking to customers on the job in line with customer service standards
– Dealing with difficult or unhappy customers – getting feedback from others on how they handled it
– Watching videos on complaints handling and conflict resolution  – Attending customer service training to understand the customer service standards and expectations within the organisation

Technical Skills – Using a new piece of equipment

Technical Skills Training Banner
– Watch a colleague use the equipment
– Practice using the equipment under observation  
– Watch a video or read a standard operating procedure that explains how to use the equipment– Not required? Or could be a very short demonstration.

Digital Learning – How to use a new IT system

Digital Skills Training Banner
– Practice using system with support from an identified system subject matter expert  – Get clear how to guides, checklists and FAQ’s to support learning and have access to when needed– Complete basic training on how to use system – this could be face to face, e-learning virtual delivery or a mix of all three


Hopefully seeing all those examples helps you to understand how you really can apply the principles of 70 20 10 to any type of learning intervention, and it isn’t overly difficult to do. It just requires thinking about all the elements, rather than having all your focus on the 10%.

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