Does the 70/20/10 model still have relevance in today’s learning organizations?

• 5 min read

Does the 70:20:10 model still have relevance in today’s learning organizations? Heck yeah it does, and we have tools to help implement it!

70/20/10 is a model first conceived in the 1980’s by a research team out of North Carolina. The model breaks down the corporate learning environment as follows:

  • 70% of all learning experiences takes place through active, on the job learning (that is, figuring it out as you go along)
  • 20% of all learning experiences takes place as a result of mentorship with co-workers, peers, and direct instruction by your management
  • 10% of all learning experience happens as a result of formal training (McCall, 1988)

Times have changed since 1988 and we have grown up in a lot of ways as L&D and/or HR organizations. There is a lot of debate as to whether or not this model still makes sense and is even relevant at all. From my perspective models, while interesting, are not the ‘100% rule book’ that your organization should live or die by. They are frameworks that are there to guide your thinking as you grow your organization’s best practices guide. 70:20:10 may work 100% for some organizations or may look more like 33/33/33 for other. The bottom line is that the concept behind it matters most – i.e. that learners are flexible and learn from many different experiences.

The model breaks down into: 70 – Informal/ Self directed/ Action learning, 20 – Social Learning/ Cooperative learning/ Cognitive apprenticeship, and 10 – Direct instruction (Orey, 2003). Each element comes with its own academic theoretical approaches that can be followed to successfully implement, and have been validated. The main point to take away is that the 70:20:10 (or however you break it up) really does a good and simple job of allowing learners to tackle the various tasks of learning, and gives the learning industry a model in which to track and assess the success of learners.Want to learn more? Watch webinar, The New 70:20:10? The Changing Face of Learning, presented by Aberdeen Group and Docebo.

How do we put this into practice?

How do we formalize the 70 – or Informal – and 20 – or Social – portions of this model? The Informal and Social elements require lots of effort and we aren’t even sure how or why to implement it. What are the use cases that would be relevant to this? Are there tools out there that allow tracking of these kinds of learning experiences?

My favorite use case for the 70 and the 20 sections involve retirement. As the Baby Boomer generation gets closer and closer to the retirement mark we are missing out on a generation of knowledge and skill that will be irretrievably lost once these people leave the workforce – costing corporations a massive amount of time and money in lost expertise. With Generation X (and soon enough Gen Y as well) replacing the Boomers in key management and leadership positions, there is the ever present knowledge and experience gap that could easily be captured by current leadership using the correct tools. These tools, if used correctly, can work with this transitioning generation and capture its wealth of knowledge. You could then embed much of this information (real life knowledge and experience) into the corporate knowledge base and, based upon organizational need, formalize it into learning structures or curricula.

The real trick as always is to get the team to actively participate in the creation of these knowledge structures. Why would senior team members be motivated to share their knowledge with the community?

Docebo is embarking on a path to help organizations with challenges like this. We have been researching and prototyping for several months, and now we’re ready to share how we will help organizations overcome many of the key technology challenges associated with the 70:20:10 model. One of the core features of our upcoming platform is to provide an environment in which the contributions by senior team members (the ‘experts’) are facilitated, encouraged, and powered by an environment that rewards top performers with measurable recognition.

70 – Docebo Share

With the Informal Learning or Experiential element of our new platform (known as Docebo Share) we will allow the ability to share user-generated knowledge that has a peer review workflow. This would allow the team (with the expertise and tangible experience) to provide real learning experiences to the corporate knowledge base – as well as the ability to validate other contributions through commenting and rating. Combine this with reporting and tracking and we can target key contributors for promotion and recognition as contributors to the company IP.

20 – Docebo Coach

The Social Learning or Coaching module (we call Docebo Coach) also adds tremendous value as this allows the user and experts to actively engage each other in both questions and responses that are always rated and up/down-voted, and also can help drive the coaching of knowledge with one on one scheduling and direct interventions where there are knowledge gaps. This takes place in an informal environment and can be paired with both formal (10) content and informal (70) content, allowing the experts to really engage the knowledge seekers.

10 – Docebo Learn

The 10, or direct instruction module (we call Docebo Learn) remains the core of our system, the LMS. It is the system that formalizes the other components into direct instruction events. Combined with a coaching system, and through pulling top user-contributed knowledge, we can turn potential knowledge gap areas into improvement areas with formal training and intervention.

While we will always have senior team members transitioning to new opportunities, the ability to capture their contributions and save them for new and rising team members is a great way to capitalize on their knowledge and experience prior to their exit from the organization. Formalizing the process to engage with this wealth of knowledge could easily transform your organization into a leader in the learning industry and to save potentially millions in lost revenue due to easily preventable knowledge gaps.

Stay tuned in mid-October for some exciting Beta releases of our product. Docebo Share and Docebo Coach will first be made available to all existing Enterprise customers. If you would like to know more, contact us directly!Want to learn more? Watch webinar, The New 70:20:10? The Changing Face of Learning, presented by Aberdeen Group and Docebo.


  • McCall, M., Lombardo, M. and Morrison, M. (1988), The Lessons of Experience: How Successful Executives Develop on the Job, Lexington Books, Lexington, MA.
  • Orey, M.(Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved 09/2015, from

Author: Josh Squires

Josh Squires is currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Docebo EMEA.  Josh has spent the past 15 years researching and implementing creative learning solutions within corporate and higher education environments. With clients ranging from Motorola to Disney, he has been on the designing and implementing stage of a wide range of learning scenarios with customers spanning the globe. Josh has also taught Instructional Technology theory and tools as a consultant and faculty member for over 8 years in both Corporate and Higher Education environments.

You can contact him directly or connect with him via LinkedIn