Training Press Releases Heads of Learning and Development at global organisations have expressed concern about how the 70/20/10 model - which has been highly influential in spreading awareness of the importance of informal learning - may be interpreted and used within some organisations.

In certain instances it may be taken on board as a strategy, rather than an observation of how people learn, and in extreme cases, it was suggested, could even been used as an excuse for cutting training budgets.

These worries came to light at a recent forum event in London hosted by LINE Communications, one of Europe's leading providers of learning and communications, attended by organisations including BBC, Deloitte, Castrol, Aviva, Comartis and the National Centre for Applied Learning Technologies.

The 70/20/10 model, developed in the early 90s by Robert Eichinger, Michael Lombardo and Morgan McCall, asserts that 70 percent of learning and development takes place from real-life and on-the-job experiences, tasks, and problem solving;20 percent of the time development comes from other people through informal or formal feedback, mentoring, or coaching;while 10 percent of learning and development comes from formal training. One worry is that formal learning initiatives are devalued and that if 90 percent of learning is informal it therefore requires no attention. Another is that this observational research is used as a hard and fast strategy for designing learning models.

In a presentation given at the event, LINE's Design Director, Andrew Joly, suggested that 70/20/10 should be an influence on strategy rather than a strategy in itself, and that the most useful application of this powerful model for understanding learners and their learning world should be to:

. Strongly support the 70% learning

. Develop and exploit the power of the 20%

. Design the 10% within the clear context of the other 90%

The BBC's Nick Shackleton-Jones added to this picture of the balance between formal and informal learning in his own presentation. He suggested that people will learn informally around the subject areas that most interest them, while the most uninspiring, mandated areas of training are the most important areas in which to supply exciting, highly engaging formal learning interventions: 'It's not about getting a body of information across, necessarily: it's more about making people care enough to engage and change their behaviour'.

Andrew Joly commented, "The importance of informal learning, networks and relationships are critical to the design of learning that works - but how we design these into real and effective learning architectures is the challenge. This was a great opportunity to discuss what may lie at the heart of future strategies"

A more detailed report of the Forum presentations and discussion can be found on the HeadLINE blog

Further reading on the 70/20/10 model can be found in The Career Architect Development Planner, Lombardo and Eichinger, 1996, Lominger Ltd, Inc.