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 or 70/20/10) is a learning and development model.

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]

Based on a survey asking nearly 200 executives to self-report how they believed they learned, McCall, Lombardo and Eichinger's surmised 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 their rationale behind the 70:20:10 model this way in The Career Architect Development Planner:[1]

“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.”


In recent years, many academics have been coming out against the purported effectiveness of the 70-20-10 hypothesis.

Criticisms include:

  • A lack of empirical supporting data [2]
  • The use of perfectly even numbers [3]
  • The nature of the survey (i.e. Asking already successful managers to reflect on their experiences.) [4]

While, the model may serve to inspire some to consider non-formal learning as a part of their learning programs, it's important to remember that 70:20:10 was never intended to be a prescriptive model. Learning professionals are encouraged to remember that 70:20:10 "is neither a scientific fact nor a recipe for how best to develop people." [4]

Managing innovation[edit]

The 70:20:10 Model for Business Innovation is a business resource management model pioneered by Eric Schmidt and articulated at Google in 2005.[5]

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. ^ a b Lombardo, Michael M; Eichinger, Robert W (1996). The Career Architect Development Planner (1st ed.). Minneapolis: Lominger. p. iv. ISBN 0-9655712-1-1. 
  2. ^ Kajewski, Kellu; Valerie, Madsen. "Demystifying 70:20:10" (PDF). Deakin Prime. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  3. ^ Thalheimer, Will. "People remember 10%, 20%...Oh Really?". Will At Work Learning. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Jefferson, Andrew; Roy, Pollock. "70:20:10: Where Is the Evidence?". Association for Talen Development. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  5. ^ 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.