The 70 20 10 learning model is the building block of organizational development. 70 20 10 learning model emphasizes the learning and development of the employees through multiple approaches, thus honing their skills and adding value to the organization. The popularity of this model for nurturing a high-performing workforce is on the rise, with an increase in the number of corporations inclining towards it. In this article, you will learn more about the 70 20 10 learning model, how it benefits the organization, and the ways to implement it.

Table of Contents

What does the 70 20 10 learning model refer to?

The 70 20 10 learning model is a ratio of multi-dimensional ways of learning, including experiences, collaborating, or interfacing with others and training (otherwise termed as formal learning).  Organizations utilize this approach to formulate impactful and innovative learning and development strategies. However, these ratios are not rigid and must be deemed the general guideline of each learning type.

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The constituents of the 70 20 10 learning model in detail

This model is an amalgamation of three different approaches aiming at learning & development of the employees across diverse industries and organizations, irrespective of the size, be it a mega-corp or a small-scale business. According to the 70 20 10 models:-

  • 70% of the knowledge is gained from job-related experiences,
  • 20% from networking with peers, management, or clients
  • 10% from formal learning sessions

The following section delivers a broad look into each element:

The 70% – Experiential Learning

A significant chunk of the learning model focuses on polishing skills through day-to-day experiences and hands-on experiences. It involves spearheading projects, tackling crises, navigating through challenging situations, and ensuring a smooth completion of daily tasks. It is simply a practical way of learning from mistakes as you climb up the ladder. This type of learning is informal and self-piloted, which allows the employees to explore their skills, make decisions and communicate across the organizational ecosystem to resolve issues and gather feedback.

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Furthermore, this approach enhances interpersonal proficiency by providing space for introspection and reflective observation of the work. Execution of informal or self-learning is an impressive way to retain knowledge and boost a value-adding skillset.

In other words, it is a trial and error method of learning that demands proactive participation and makes employees adept at dealing with unforeseen and ambiguous situations.

The 20% – Interactive Learning

The second part of the learning model describes the development through social experiences. It happens through observing others and coordinating with co-workers and managers. This approach celebrates the power of collective learning and growing together to achieve a shared vision and goals. Additionally, it is also accomplished through guidance and mentoring. Learning under the guidance and observation results in a productive work ambiance.

A co-worker with prowess in a particular skill serves as a mentor for the peers to facilitate their development. Taking up new roles and handling additional responsibilities comes with a natural prediction of asking for help and support to learn and grow. Interaction-based learning provides an opportunity to build close-knit connections with others that can prove beneficial in advanced work stages.

Social learning seeks shelter under the umbrella of informal learning by being spontaneous, self-led, and less structured. It is highly dependent on the culture and inclusion within the organization.

The 10% – Formal Learning

Formal learning is a more structured approach and the backbone of the development of employees. Although it contributes only 10% to the 70 20 10 learning model, it is a vital element of the whole that cannot be missed.

Formal learning refers to an ‘age-old’ method of instructor-led training sessions, seminars, workshops, and tutorials to strengthen the basics of the work and render knowledge on the progressive stages. It allows to implement the technical knowledge gained through experiential and social learning. Formal learning can be online or offline, delivered in a classroom-like setting.

The history behind 70 20 10 learning model

The origin of the 70 20 10 learning model dates back to the 1980s. A group of authors and researchers named McCall, Lombardo, and Eichinger conducted an exhaustive study to determine the effects of learning and development. It involved 200 executives reporting their crucial learning experiences throughout their career trajectory.

The results concluded that 70% of learning was nurtured from on-the-job experiences, 20% from interfacing with peers and management, collectively termed informal training. The rest is 10% from formal training sessions. It led to the formulation of 70 20 10 rule.

Michael Lombardo described the model as:

“Development generally begins with the realization of current or future need and the motivation to do something about it… The odds are that development will be about 70% from on-the-job experiences (working on tasks and problems), about 20% from feedback and 10% from courses and reading.”

What makes the 70 20 10 learning model effective?

There are numerous reasons stating the excellence of the 70 20 10 learning model, resulting in organizational growth. A few of them are stated below:

Diverse learning

The 70 20 10 learning model offers a concoction of different learning approaches, catering to the varying scope of work. It celebrates that learning is not a straight line but a curve shaped through experiences. It also allows the employees to develop and learn in whichever way works for them.

Productive workplace

The 70 20 10 learning model leads to enhanced employee engagement and performance as it empowers employees to participate in decision-making and take initiatives actively. As a result, the workplace becomes more productive and boosts revenue crests.


The learning model and opportunities are related to on-the-job experiences and cross-functional coordination. Hence, it becomes easier to scale the employees’ performance and growth and compare them.

Ways to implement 70 20 10 learning model

Here are some ways to get started with the 70 20 10 learning model and implement it successfully across the organization-wide ecosystem.

For the Experiential Learning

To foster learning through experiments and self-direction, the management must prioritize policies and processes to deliver a holistic and comprehensive learning experience to the employees. Additionally, the challenges must advance with the growth of the employees. A few of them can be:

  • Passing on the responsibility of the projects to the employees
  • Encouraging employees to make the decisions
  • Including the employees in meetings with the stakeholders
  • Establishing a funnel of people management opportunities
  • Rendering constant support and guidance throughout the process

For the Social Learning

The 20% of the chunk focuses on learning through cross-functional movement and developing positive business relationships. The key here is interaction with others – managers, peers, stakeholders, etc. it can be achieved through:

  • Teaming up the peers in a group for a project
  • Initiating mentorship sessions by the senior leaders
  • Building a knowledge-sharing culture
  • Opportunities to receive and provide feedback

For the Formal Training

Formal learning, although constituting a slight (10%) but significant percentage, is achieved through professional sessions and workshops. However, the scope can be expanded beyond the traditional methods with more modern and accessible ways. They can be:

  • Providing visual content such as videos and storyboards
  • Delivering reliable and knowledge providing resources backed up by the industry veterans
  • Hosting seminars and panel discussions (online or offline)
  • Conducting career development training and providing certificates


The 70 20 10 learning model is a vital part of the employees’ development and the organization’s growth. It comprises structured and unstructured learning methods through on-the-job experiences and social interaction, catering to the workforce’s diverse needs. However, it would help to keep in mind that the ratios are not fixed but a mere guideline.


70 20 10 Learning Model

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the 70 20 10 learning approach?

The 70 20 10 learning model states that 70% of the learning of professionals in a corporate setting comes from hands-on experiences and tackling challenges, 20% from social interaction or relationship development, and the rest 10% from structured training.

What is L & D framework?

L&D refers to the learning and development which is built around the framework known as the ’70 20 10 learning model’.

Who created the 70 20 10 learning model?

The 70 20 10 learning model is a result of the study conducted by McCall, Lombardo, and Eichinger in the 1980s.

What are learning models?

A learning model refers to acquiring new skills by leveraging mental and physical mechanisms. It aims at encouraging and facilitating learning.

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