Time catches up with every business eventually, and this also applies to the traditional learning function. In the last century it was OK to place the focus on training. Today this is no longer an effective response if the learning function is to contribute to learning at the speed of performance. This can be achieved using 70:20:10.
The golden age of training is over
The twentieth century was the golden age of training. Its development and growth were the natural driver of the humanisation of work and undoubtedly contributed in many different ways to the professionalisation of HRD (Human Resource Development). But those days are over. All the trends point to a shift in focus from formal learning to working = learning, from 10:20:70 in the learning paradigm to 70:20:10 in the performance paradigm.
The learning paradigm
There is a tension between 70:20:10 and the learning paradigm whose priority is the development of skills. This works mainly in situations where skills deficits are causing performance problems or people have to be trained in order to work.
Learning has the following functions for the individual:
- Acquiring the skills required to get or keep a job
- Developing skills they will need in future jobs
- Developing specific knowledge and social attitudes
- Working on one’s own development with a Personal Development Plan
- Career development
- Talent management
and the following for the organisation:
- Equipping professionals with the skills they need for current and/or future roles
- Improving employability
- Motivating staff and maintaining their loyalty
- Rewarding high-performing professionals
- Equipping them to deliver new products and services
Preserving the continuity of business processes by maintaining a stock of skills that are relevant to the organisation
The performance paradigm
70:20:10 uses the performance paradigm to achieve working = learning in the context of the workplace and thus to contribute to the desired organisational results. In our practice we have seen many applications of the learning paradigm in 70:20:10, which is not the intention. The paradigm starts from the idea that skills need to be developed so it begins with the 10 and uses these to flesh out the 20 and 70.
This is a back-to-front approach. In 70:20:10, it’s not learning or the 10 that are central, but rather the principle of working = learning. Here again it is about achieving the desired performance improvement in the context of the individuals or teams who want to work better together.
70:20:10 is about performance enhancement: the performance paradigm starts with the desired organisational results and uses performance consulting to establish what interventions are needed in the 70, 20 and 10 to improve individual and organisational performance. This should not be confused with the learning paradigm approach in which learning is added to working. In the performance paradigms, working = learning is achieved using such models as performance support, microlearning and social learning. This makes it possible to learn at the speed of performance.
The performance paradigm
Functions of performance-oriented learning for the individual:
- Acquiring the skills required to achieve organisational results by working on improvement projects
- Combining professional development with desired organisational results
- Working on a greater variety of projects
- Gaining in motivation by carrying out challenging work in a performance-oriented environment
- Achieving a functional connection between team and individual performance.
Functions of performance-oriented learning for the organisation:
- Achieving measurable organisational results
- Obtaining a return on improvement projects
- Obtaining a return on professional development in improvement projects
- Encouraging internal and external employability
- Motivating employees and maintaining their loyalty.
A small difference with big implications
The training function is clinging to the learning paradigms rather than shifting to a performance mindset in which 70:20:10 adds value for people and organisations through learning by working and learning to learn.
As stated earlier, 70:20:10 is not a mantra but a set of principles in which the organisational learning function remains relevant to business in the twenty-first century. That way, the focus shifts from learning for learning’s sake to learning to work better.