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The 70:20:10 model and Knowledge Management

1 February 2015
Sharon Cohen-Arazi

You've probably heard of learning everywhere: in a work environment, in a classroom, with your cell phone, in a course or lecture, virtually and personally, using many formal and informal learning methods. You've also probably asked yourself: what is the best way to learn? Is it alone or in a group? In a classroom or perhaps in front of your PC? Perhaps the best way to learn is to explore while we work, asking questions and learning lessons? If so, when do we stop to ask and when we do stop asking? We all want to succeed in our learning process. We therefore wish to discover our optimal learning method. In order to simplify matters, this article will introduce the '70:20:10' model.

What is the '70:20:10' model?

The 70:20:10 model describes the worker's learning process as well his/her learning methods and their affect on his/her learning:

10: Learning in an instructive environment such as a course or class (approximately 10% of the learning process).

20: Learning in a work environment with colleagues, sharing ideas and searching for information etc. (approximately 20% of the learning process).

70: Learning through experience of solving problems and implementing solutions (approximately 70% of the learning process).

The percentages do not signify the importance of each stage. All stages are equally vital in order to complete the process. If the learner does not complete the first 10%, he won't have the initial tools to even begin with the following stages. If the learner doesn't get the 20% process, he will feel abandoned, and due to his anxiety/fear/lack of knowledge sources and the need to guide this worker through the work process, the whole learning process will be pended. The worker will possibly fail in performing his tasks. Finally, if the worker/manager won't continue learning throughout his career, he will not improve his performances, will not be updated and therefore will never advance (and obviously never contribute to the advancement of the organization).

The learning process is as natural as a baby learning to walk or an adult in Driver's Ed

  • Approximately 10% of the learning experience is completed during Driver's Ed. During this stage, the learner becomes familiar with the vehicle and road, learns the rules (procedures) from which he learns the skills required in order to successfully drive (fulfill the task) which he practices.

  • Approximately 20% of the learning experience is completed during the period in which the driver is accompanied by a supervising adult. This is a real driving situation, only there is a guide constantly here to criticize and assure, as well as answer questions and provide missing information.

  • Approximately 70% of the learning process is completed during the actual driving on the road without any supervision. We practice what we learned and perform our own private lessons learning process, usually when something goes especially right or especially wrong. In other words, we continue developing and strengthening our skills required for independently performing our tasks.

Learning is constantly performed in a working environment, both by new workers and veterans, by improving skills, professional updates, upgrading systems, updating procedures in the organization/unit, involvement in new dilemmas etc.

Some refer to learning in an instructional environment as formal learning and learning in the working environment as informal learning.


How does the organizational Knowledge Management support the worker's learning process?

In my opinion as a training expert and Knowledge Management counselor, the fields of KM and training integrate during all stages of the process:

During the formal learning process (10%) it is vital that the material is "easy to digest". It is possible and preferable to use the course's site, make the relevant accessible, enhance the communication between participants etc. Knowledge Management offers methodologies and tools for managing all these and more that will actually ease the learning. It is common knowledge that after a long instruction process, there is great percentage of forgotten material (most of us forget what we learned at the beginning of the semester, week, or even the beginning of the class). KM can be supportive in these cases and is essentially an accompanying toll available following the formal learning.

The 20% learned in the work environment: Knowledge Management is a central tool in the process of making Knowledge easily accessed, organized and updated. In an organization in which knowledge is managed and easily accessed by the workers, they can efficiently search and find answers for many of their questions. If information is missing they can easily locate the personnel to which they should turn to for an answer. At this stage it is recommended to direct the worker to relevant material through which he can continue learning, practicing and developing skills required for his next task.

70%: We practically learn all the time, the newcomers and the veterans, minors and managers. If we stop learning, we soon enough become irrelevant. Even after the worker becomes a top expert in his field, sometimes some missing information is needed, whether it is new information or information concerning remote branches of the organization this expert has never come in contact with. Correct Knowledge Management will prevent the worker from rummaging through archives in search of answers and will efficiently provide the answers, quickly and easily.

To conclude, In order to make the learning process more efficient it is recommended to integrate KM tools that will accompany the worker both in the instructional environment and the work environment. 

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