70/20/10 Model

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There are two 70/20/10 models in business: education and managing innovation.

Learning & development[edit]

The 70/20/10 Model for Learning and Development (also written as 70-20-10 and more commonly as 70:20:10) is a learning and development model based on research and observation carried out from the 1960s until present.

Morgan McCall and his colleagues working at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) are usually credited with originating the 70:20:10 ratio. Two of McCall's colleagues, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger, published data from one CCL study in their 1996 book The Career Architect Development Planner.[1]

McCall, Lombardo and Eichinger's survey of high-performing managers revealed that:

“Lessons learned by successful and effective managers are roughly:

  • 70% from tough jobs
  • 20% from people (mostly the boss)
  • 10% from courses and reading”

Lombardo and Eichinger expressed the rationale behind the 70:20:10 model this way in The Career Architect Development Planner.:[2]

“Development generally begins with a realization of current or future need and the motivation to do something about it. This might come from feedback, a mistake, watching other people’s reactions, failing or not being up to a task – in other words, from experience. The odds are that development will be about 70% from on-the-job experiences, working on tasks and problems; about 20% from feedback and working around good and bad examples of the need, and 10% from courses and reading.”

The 70:20:10 model for learning and development is based not only on this CCL study, but also on other surveys and empirical studies[3][4] that indicate most learning occurs as part of the workflow and not in away-from-work training situations.

Early work on adult learning projects by Professor Allen Tough in the 1960s and 1970s found that the majority of learning occurred as self-directed and in the workplace. In researching adult learning and intentional change, Tough identified that ‘about 70% of all learning projects are planned by the learner himself’.[5] Although at the time Tough did not refer to a 70:20:10 split he later acknowledged that is what he found.[6]

Many organizations have embraced the 70:20:10 model. To date these include global brands such as Medtronic, Essilor, SAP, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PwC, Nike, Nokia, Microsoft,Dell, BAT, Oracle, HP, Sony Ericsson, Morgan Stanley,Standard Chartered, NAB, Philips, Avery, Westinghouse, Holcim, Coca Cola Amatil, American Express, Bank of America, Rabobank, Goldman Sachs, ANZ Bank, GAP, Irish Life, Caterpillar, Wrigley, Mars, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Best Buy, L’Oréal, BT, Boston Scientific, Maersk, Creganna-Tactx Medical, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline,Herbert Smith Freehills, Cranfield University, Princeton University, George Washington University, Nestle, and the Australian Federal Government.[7]

Reference model[edit]

70:20:10 is a reference model and not a recipe.[8] The numbers are often considered simply to be historical artifacts. The importance and value of the model is that it extends learning beyond the classroom and course paradigm and utilizes workplace and social learning.

70:20:10 provides a framework for improving and extending traditional training and learning into the workplace. The '70' refers to learning within the workflow - workplace learning and performance support[9] - and the '20' refers to social learning,[10] including informal coaching and mentoring as well as building and exploiting strong and effective social networks.


In 2002 Charles Jennings, a global expert and innovator of enterprise learning solutions and the 70:20:10 model, developed 70:20:10 as a strategic model for practical implementation at Reuters. Jennings subsequently published a structured 10-point approach for extending 70:20:10 into a set of strategic tools for HR and Learning professionals to use. His 70:20:10 Framework Explained[11] publication describes the background, principles, benefits and practical examples of 70:20:10 in use, as well as the 10-point approach.

Managing innovation[edit]

The 70/20/10 Model is a business resource management model pioneered by Eric Schmidt and articulated about Google in 2005.[12]

This model dictates that, to cultivate innovation, employees should utilize their time in the following ratio:

  • 70% of time should be dedicated to core business tasks.
  • 20% of time should be dedicated to projects related to the core business.
  • 10% of time should be dedicated to projects unrelated to the core business.


  1. ^ Lombardo, Michael M; Eichinger, Robert W (1996). The Career Architect Development Planner (1st ed.). Minneapolis: Lominger. p. iv. ISBN 0-9655712-1-1. 
  2. ^ Lombardo, Michael M; Eichinger, Robert W (1996). The Career Architect Development Planner (1st ed.). Minneapolis: Lominger. p. iv. ISBN 0-9655712-1-1. 
  3. ^ Tough, Allen. The Adult's Learning Projects: A fresh approach to theory and practice in adult learning (Research in education series) ISBN 9780774400596
  4. ^ The Teaching Firm: Where Productive Work & Learning Converge. Education Development Center (EDC) Newton, MA 1998
  5. ^ Tough, Allen. The Adult's Learning Projects: A fresh approach to theory and practice in adult learning (Research in education series) ISBN 9780774400596
  6. ^ Personal correspondence between Tough and Charles Jennings (2011-2012)
  7. ^ Jennings, Charles. This is a partial list from the 70:20:10 Forum. 2013.
  8. ^ Jennings, Charles 70:20:10 Framework Explained 2013. ISBN 978-0-9875210-0-2
  9. ^ Gery, G. (1991) Electronic Performance Support Systems.ISBN 978-0-9617968-1-5.
  10. ^ Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  11. ^ Jennings, Charles 70:20:10 Framework Explained. (c) 2013. ISBN 978-0-9875210-0-2
  12. ^ John Battelle (December 1, 2005). "The 70 Percent Solution: Google CEO Eric Schmidt gives us his golden rules for managing innovation". CNN Money magazine. Retrieved August 12, 2011.