learning and development

How to Implement 70:20:10 Framework: Practical Tips and Real-World Examples

Skip outdated training! Explore the 70:20:10 framework for employee development. Get practical tips and real-world examples to unlock your workforce's full potential!

Nathan Goldstein

Co-founder of Together

Published on 

March 31, 2024

Updated on 

Time to Read

mins read time

More than half of employees feel their current skills are insufficient for future success, despite organizations investing an average of $1,300 per employee annually on training and development.

This begs the question: are traditional learning programs missing the mark?

Let's face it, sitting in a classroom all day can only get you so far. Information overload is real, and applying that knowledge in the real world can be a whole different story. That's where the 70:20:10 framework comes in.

In this article, we'll dive deep into the power of this approach, explore practical tips to implement the 70:20:10 model within your organization, and showcase real-world case studies that demonstrate its effectiveness.

Understanding the power of experiential learning

Ever wonder why that childhood bike ride you mastered feels more ingrained in your memory than countless lectures on physics? It's the power of experiential learning at play. 

Experiential learning, or learning by doing, is where we actively apply knowledge and gain skills through real-world experiences. Research by the National Training Laboratories found that learners retain 90% of what they learn by doing, compared to just 20% through lectures.

This is because when you actively engage in tasks, your brain forms stronger neural connections. It's like learning to ride a bike by actually pedaling, rather than just reading about it. 

Experiential learning transforms theory into practice, bridging the gap between concept and application. Whether it's through simulations, role-plays, or on-the-job experiences, this approach immerses learners in situations where they must apply what they've learned.

The 70:20:10 framework capitalizes on this powerful learning style by dedicating a significant portion (70%) to on-the-job experiences. Here's how this translates into real benefits for your team:

  • Sharpened problem-solving - Imagine a software developer encountering a complex coding bug. By troubleshooting and experimenting with different solutions (part of the 70% experience), they develop critical thinking skills and the ability to find creative fixes. This applies across departments. A customer service rep facing a frustrated client can learn valuable de-escalation techniques through real interactions, improving their ability to handle future challenges.
  • Confidence boost - There's no substitute for the confidence gained from conquering real-world situations. As your team tackles projects and overcomes hurdles within the 70% experience zone, they gain a sense of mastery. This translates to increased self-assurance and a greater willingness to take on new challenges, ultimately leading to a more innovative and dynamic workforce.
  • Productivity on autopilot - Experiential learning allows for immediate application of knowledge.  Think of a marketing team member practicing their presentation skills for a client pitch (part of the 20% through coaching and collaboration).  They're more likely to deliver a clear and impactful presentation during the actual meeting (the real-world application), leading to faster results and improved productivity.

By incorporating experiential learning opportunities throughout the development process, the 70:20:10 framework goes beyond rote memorization. It empowers your team to not just learn information, but to truly internalize it, apply it effectively, and thrive in their roles.

Practical tips for implementing 70:20:10

We've explored the power of experiential learning and how the 70:20:10 model capitalizes on it. Now, let's dive into the practical steps you can take to bring this framework to life within your organization. Remember, a well-designed implementation strategy is key to unlocking the full potential of 70:20:10 and maximizing the learning and development experience for your team.

1. Shifting mindsets

The 70:20:10 framework thrives on a cultural shift. Here's how to foster a growth mindset within your organization:

  • Reframe learning as a journey - Ditch the "one-time training" mentality. Emphasize that learning is a continuous process, and encourage employees to embrace challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth.
  • Value on-the-job experiences - Recognize the immense learning potential within everyday work tasks. Encourage managers to delegate tasks that stretch employees' skills and provide opportunities for practical application of knowledge.
  • Collaboration is key - Foster a collaborative environment where knowledge sharing thrives. This could involve peer-to-peer coaching, team brainstorming sessions, or cross-departmental project work.

2. Demonstrating value to organizational leaders

Getting buy-in from senior leadership is crucial for the successful implementation of the 70:20:10 framework. Here's how to shift the conversation from "training courses" to a collaborative approach focused on developing their most valuable asset: their team.

  • Think partnership - Leaders often question the ROI of training programs.  Ditch the "one-size-fits-all" solutions and instead, co-create a learning strategy with senior leaders. Identify their key challenges and opportunities, and demonstrate how the 70:20:10 framework addresses those specific needs. You'll be doing the heavy lifting on program development, but by involving them in the process, you ensure their commitment and understanding.
  • Speak their language - Focus on the tangible benefits that resonate most with leaders: the bottom line.  Showcase how the 70:20:10 framework translates into improved productivity, enhanced innovation, and reduced employee turnover. By aligning learning initiatives with strategic objectives and demonstrating a measurable return on investment, you'll gain the support of leadership and create a learning environment that propels your organization forward.

3. Enhancing the learning environment

The 70:20:10 framework isn't just about throwing employees into the deep end. Let's explore ways to create a supportive learning environment:

  • Learning on the job - Create opportunities for on-the-job learning through stretch assignments that push employees outside their comfort zones. Implement mentoring programs where seasoned professionals can guide and support less experienced colleagues. Encourage job shadowing to allow employees to observe and learn from successful colleagues in other departments.
  • Knowledge sharing - Facilitate knowledge sharing through communities of practice, where employees with similar interests can connect and learn from each other. Utilize online forums and internal knowledge repositories to capture and share valuable insights across the organization.
  • Microlearning - Integrate microlearning opportunities into the workflow. Think bite-sized e-learning modules, short video tutorials, or quick reference guides that employees can access easily throughout the day to reinforce key concepts.
Employee Engagement: A Practical Guide 

4. Optimizing formal learning

Formal training still has its place within the 70:20:10 framework, but it should be targeted and effective. Here's how to ensure your training programs deliver:

  • Needs-based training - Focus on training that addresses specific skill gaps identified through performance needs assessments. Prioritize real-world application over generic knowledge dumps.
  • Engaging experiences - Design training programs that are interactive, engaging, and directly applicable to real-world work scenarios.  Utilize case studies, simulations, and role-playing exercises to make learning active and memorable.
  • Blended learning - Embrace blended learning approaches that combine instructor-led sessions with online resources and practical exercises. This allows for a well-rounded learning experience that caters to different learning styles.

5. Evaluating effectiveness

The key to continuous improvement is tracking progress. Here's how to measure the success of your 70:20:10 implementation:

  • Metrics matter - Identify relevant metrics to track progress and assess the effectiveness of your learning initiatives. This could include employee engagement surveys, productivity measures, or customer satisfaction ratings.
  • Impact on KPIs - Track the impact of 70:20:10 on key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter to your organization.  Demonstrate how improved learning translates into tangible business results.
  • Feedback loop - Gather feedback from employees through surveys or focus groups to continuously improve the learning and development experience. This feedback helps ensure your programs remain relevant and meet the evolving needs of your workforce.

With a solid understanding of the 70:20:10 framework and its implementation, you are well-equipped to embark on your learning and development journey. But how does it translate in real-world scenarios?  Let's explore inspiring case studies from organizations that have successfully leveraged this approach to achieve remarkable results.

Case study 1: Citi’s decision to step away from formal learning

In a bold move, Citigroup, a leading financial institution, made headlines with their decision to move away from traditional, instructor-led training programs.  

This wasn't a knee-jerk reaction, but rather a strategic shift towards a more holistic approach to learning and development (L&D).  Their reasoning?  Formal training often fails to translate effectively to real-world scenarios, leaving employees  ill-equipped to tackle the challenges of the dynamic financial services industry.

Implementing the #BeMore campaign and embracing holistic learning practices

Citi replaced traditional training with the 70:20:10 framework, championing experiential learning and on-the-job experiences. Their  #BeMore campaign encouraged a growth mindset and empowered employees to take ownership of their development. This involved:

  • Stretch assignments - Assigning employees projects that pushed them outside their comfort zones, allowing them to learn new skills through practical application.
  • Mentorship programs - Pairing experienced professionals with new hires to facilitate knowledge transfer and provide ongoing guidance.
  • Collaborative learning communities - Creating online forums where employees could share best practices, troubleshoot challenges, and learn from each other's experiences.

These initiatives fostered a culture of continuous learning at Citi, transforming the way employees acquired and applied knowledge.

Case study 2: Hilti improved time-to-productivity of its sales reps with 70:20:10

Hilti, a tools manufacturing company, faced a challenge: new sales reps were taking too long to become proficient, impacting their bottom line. Traditional product knowledge training wasn't enough to prepare them for the intricacies of real-world sales conversations.

Hilti implemented the 70:20:10 framework to address this issue:

  • Onboarding with a blend - New hires received a foundation in product knowledge through microlearning modules and online resources (10%). This was complemented by shadowing experienced reps (20%) and one-on-one coaching sessions with sales managers (70%).
  • Peer learning and collaboration - Hilti established a "Sales Champions" program where top performers mentored newer reps, fostering knowledge sharing and peer-to-peer learning.
  • Focus on real-world application - Role-playing exercises and simulations mirrored real-world sales scenarios, allowing reps to practice their skills in a safe environment before client interactions.

By integrating the 70:20:10 framework, Hilti Tools significantly reduced the time it took for new sales reps to become productive, boosting their overall sales performance.

Both Citi and Hilti demonstrate the power of the 70:20:10 framework in action.  These case studies highlight the importance of:

  • Moving away from theory-based training towards practical application.
  • Encouraging employees to take ownership of their development and fostering collaboration.
  • Blending formal training with on-the-job experiences and peer learning opportunities.

By embracing the 70:20:10 framework, organizations can unlock the full potential of their workforce and achieve remarkable results.

Unlock the potential within your workforce with Together

The future of learning lies in experience, and the 70:20:10 framework offers a powerful roadmap to get you there. It empowers your employees to take ownership of their development, fueled by real-world experiences, and collaborative learning. 

The beauty of the 70:20:10 framework lies in its adaptability.  It's a springboard for fostering a culture of continuous learning within your organization. Here's where Together comes in.

Together is more than just a mentoring software; it's a catalyst for collaboration and knowledge sharing –  two pillars of the 70:20:10 model.  Imagine a platform that seamlessly connects experienced professionals with eager learners, fostering a dynamic learning environment where everyone thrives.

Together empowers your team to:

  • Connect with mentors - Facilitate knowledge transfer through structured mentoring programs.
  • Spark collaboration - Break down silos and encourage peer-to-peer learning across departments.
  • Capture and share knowledge - Create a central hub for on-the-job experiences, best practices, and valuable insights.

By harnessing the power of experiential learning and fostering collaboration through tools like Together, you can unlock the full potential of your workforce and build a future-proof learning culture within your organization. 

Ready to see Together in action? Schedule a demo today and experience firsthand how it can revolutionize your learning and development strategy.

About the Author

close button

Hear how they started with Together