The 70:20:10 Framework

The 70:20:10 Framework

The 70:20:10 framework for Learning and Development is a commonly used formula within the training profession to describe the optimal sources of learning by successful managers. It holds that individuals obtain 70 percent of their knowledge from job-related experiences, 20 percent from interactions with others, and 10 percent from formal educational events.

The framework was created in the 1980s by Morgan McCall, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert A. Eichinger—three researchers and authors working with the Center for Creative Leadership.

The 70:20:10 framework isn’t just a numeric sequence. It is a fundamentally different view of work, performance and learning in the 21st century. Implementing the 70:20:10 model generates real business impact, by adjusting the… Click To Tweet

The purpose of the 70:20:10 framework is not to separate learning and working, but to strengthen the synergy between them, so the 70, 20 and 10 solutions are mutually reinforcing.

Businesses that use 70:20:10 model are four times more likely to report that their staff are able to respond faster to business change, and three times more likely to report improvements in staff motivation—demonstrating the positive impact the model can have in a business setting. 

Businesses employing the 70:20:10 model are five times more likely to attract top talent, and two times more likely to report an increase in customer satisfaction because of social and on-the-job experiential learning.

It would be a mistake to assume that 70-:20:10 is the only ratio that works or that it’s the best among many possible ratios. What the optimal balance of O, S and F looks like for any given company can and should be different.

For some companies, the numbers may be 48:23:29 or 56:27:17 or some other combination. There is no single ratio of learning sources that is best for everyone. That’s where the concept of the OSF Ratio comes into play.

The OSF ratio represents the relative amount of learning from on-the-job (O), social (S) and formal (F) sources. In this sense, 70-20-10 is simply the OSF ratio that has become popular among L&D professionals.  Click To Tweet

Why is 70:20:10 Framework useful for small businesses?

The 70:20:10 framework is useful for small businesses because it focuses on experiential and social learning, in which members of staff develop by carrying out day-to-day tasks and working closely with colleagues. Because the formula has less emphasis on formal training, it’s a cost-effective learning and development solution that also allows for lots of flexibility, helping employees to refine their job-related skills and make decisions on their ongoing learning and development.

Of course, the 70:20:10 framework requires a culture that enables individuals to learn via new experiences without fear of failure, the ability to self-report on their development and a continuous feedback loop with managers so they can assess performance and offer constructive feedback. Having access to a learning management system coupled with 70:20:10 allows staff to determine their own learning path, and access resources which are relevant to their specific job.

The 70:20:10 framework allows staff to put what they learn into practice quicker, and that businesses which integrate the formula into their learning and development noticed a positive change in staff behavior.

Of course the 70:20:10 framework doesn’t only apply to learning and development. It can also been applied to business growth, innovation, and digital marketing.

Using The 70:20:10 Framework for Innovation

Inspiration is core to innovation, and new things are scary. Strange as it might sound, you can actually plan to be innovative – and protect your marketing investment by applying this framework.

70% Now

Your largest investment should be in established marketing programs. Focus on refining activity you have run for several years with a record of success. Right now this is likely to include Google Search, Desktop and Mobile Display, and Facebook activity—although it depends where you are in your Digital marketing journey. It’s crucial to maintain a strong base to protect your success.

20% New

The next 20% of your budget should go on emerging areas that are starting to gain traction. This is about generating safe learning opportunities. Voice and Programmatic are hot right now for most marketers, but it should also be about trying new suppliers for activity you are already doing well at. Not every test will work out, but the ones that do will set up your future plans and keep you ahead of the competition.

10% Next

You can think of this final 10% as your marketing insurance. Set the stage for the future by investing in areas you have never tested before. Start small and scale fast. Remember these 10% tests will one day be your 70%. And without investing here you will very quickly fall behind your competition.

Wendy Clark, SVP, Marketing for Coca-Cola, gave this presentation at a McKinsey CMO event. She explained how, to be successful today, companies need to employ a test and learn approach. At Coke, 70% of spend funds current proven programs, 20% goes to new and promising trends, and 10% to test completely new ideas.

What’s important in all this is that innovation can have a process. With the 70/20/10 approach it’s easy to protect your success NOW, while finding the NEW and NEXT things you need to stay ahead. Click To Tweet

Doing It The Google Way

When Eric Schmidt was CEO at Google, he went beyond their initial “Don’t be evil” rule and instituted the 70:20:10 ratio for innovation. It works pretty simply:

  • Dedicate 70% of time to core business tasks.
  • Dedicate 20% of time to projects related to the core business.
  • Dedicate 10% of time to projects unrelated to the core business.

Of course, it’s easy for a huge company like Google to allocate resources in this way. But when you run your own venture, the idea of spending 30% of your time on non-core business tasks seems crazy.  That doesn’t mean it won’t work for small businesses—you just have to tweek it a bit. Here’s how to think about it…

Dedicate 70% of Time To Current Business & Administration

As a small business owner, you know you have to do the work to get paid. You absolutely should devote most of your time to doing the work that provides you with an income. This not only means working on the actual projects, but also managing the administrative duties such as accounting and invoicing and all those other not-so-fun tasks that must be done.

Dedicate 20% of Time Towards Growing Your Business

When you already have enough work to fill your days (and probably your nights), it can be challenging to remember you also need to pursue more work. Projects end, clients or customers move on and it can be all too easy to find you’ve gone from too much work to not enough to pay the bills. If you commit to spending 20% of your time finding new work, crafting proposals, and networking you’ll find you can avoid those down times more easily.

Dedicate 10% of Time To Passion Projects & Education

Burnout is a huge problem for small business owners. A perfect way to combat this is to commit to spending a few hours each week working only on things you love. This could be a side project, pro bono client work, or testing out a new trend in your industry. In addition, it’s a good idea to also include time to keep your skill set sharp, whether that means attending webinars or local events or even conferences.

The 70:20:10 Framework For Content Marketing

The 70:20:10 rule when applied to content marketing should be broken down by volume of different types of content as follows:

  • 70% of content should be proven content that supports building your brand or attracting visitors to your site
  • 20% of content should be premier content which may be more costly or risky but has a bigger potential new audience, for example ‘viral videos’ or infographics
  • 10% of content should be more experimental

This allows a marketer to build a solid, reputable knowledge base for customers, provide content that is interesting and unusual and, when needed, self-promote in fun and unorthodox ways.

The 70:20:10 Framework For Social Media Marketing

In terms of social media, the eternal question is what types of content should a brand post? The 70:20:10 rule allows you to structure your updates, allowing your company to appear reputable, whilst simultaneously engaging the reader.

This is the type of posting mix that we look to apply across different social networks:

  • 70% of posts should add value and build the brand
  • 20% should share ideas or content from other sources
  • 10% should be promotional, with offers and discounts offered to followers

As you can see that the 70:20:10 marketing framework is adaptable. That’s its beauty—it can be applied to different aspects of budgeting time and resource. In short, if marketers focus the majority of their efforts on building and maintaining their brand, then they can allocate the rest of their marketing efforts on ensuring they resonate with consumers in an emotional way. By focusing a large percentage of your marketing budget on proven success, you are able to risk some of the remainder on areas of potential, which may prove highly profitable in years to come.

This formula might seem overly simple, but it’s a great guideline for keeping you on track, ensure growth, and prevent burnout. If you want to grow and stay sane, give the 70:20:10 framework a try—and let us know how it goes!

What frameworks do you use for learning, development, business growth and innovation?

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