OTJ, Coaching, Classroom

  Lowell House Dining Hall, Harvard University A classic 70-20-10 model is ‘Professional Development’. This model was used heavily at Microsoft and is applied widely in business. It describes the breakdown of ‘how people learn’ in the professional environment…

  • 70% of learning is ‘On The Job’ (delivering on job commitments and special projects)
  • 20% of learning is ‘Through Others’ (mentoring and coaching from others)
  • 10% of learning is ‘Classroon’ (formal training and conferences)

As I investigated this application, I came upon a contrarian view debunking this delineation – http://www.nickjhowe.com/2010/05/lets-kill-a-few-learning-holy-cows/. But I think that Nick misses the point of 70-20-10 in general. It is not intended as some scientific measurement, assessment or recipe. Instead, it is merely an order of magnitude articulation of prioritisation. When Microsoft or other companies state that ‘learning comes in these proportions’, it is not necessarily claiming that the percentages derive from some scientific rule or formula. Rather, it is asserting the balance of investment and focus as it applies it as an organisation. As stated in previous posts, one can quibble over the exact number, but that is not the point. The point is the relative scale and position of the priorities. The core message to this ‘Professional Development’ is ‘don’t just look to a bunch of training classes in order to learn.’ I think that is a very valuable message. The development 70-20-10 is implicit in coursework in many higher education institutions and most certainly my alma mater, Harvard. I took the standard 4 course load. Each class met for lecture or tutorial about 2-3 hours per week for a total of 10 hours of classroom time. I certainly spent 7 times that in the ‘OJT’ stuff of reading, researching, and doing assignments. What is key here is the ‘20%’ that is the clear #2 and curiously twice as important as the classes themselves. In fact, the focus and investment on the ‘Through Others’ educational dimension is one of the hallmarks of a Harvard education. It all started with the namesake of my own college house (see photo), President Abbott Lawrence Lowell. He reformed the structure of Harvard’s housing system into residential houses where students could live together and build community and interaction outside of the classroom. The centrepiece of each ‘House’ was the dining hall which has since served as the focus of social life, but also intellectual exchange. To this day, I remember as many insights, discoveries and ‘feedback’ over a dish of moussaka as my many classes and lectures.


3 Responses to “OTJ, Coaching, Classroom”

  1. Harold Jarche framed the 70-20-10 Learning breakdown in more abstract terms – 70% ‘Interdependent’ (Interactive and Collaborative), 20% Independent (Supported by Tools and Information), 10% Dependent (Instruction). It paints the model more of an intersecting Venn diagram. http://www.jarche.com/2011/03/finding-the-time-for-networked-learning.

  2. […] Clark’s examination of the classic 70-20-10 Learning principle re-dubs the 20% ‘Coaching’ element to ‘Social’ which he describes […]

  3. […] say 90% of learning takes place outside the classroom. But who’s to know just how much of what you have learned? How does it map to the key […]

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