50 suggestions for implementing 70-20-10 (5)

50 suggestions for implementing 70-20-10

(Here are Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4)

 How to sell an executive on 70-20-10

Changing the role of managers is a wrenching organizational change. You will not be successful without the support of a senior management sponsor who can open doors to at all levels and help your make your case.

You will need to become a champion for the new approach to developing talent in the organization. You must convince your sponsor that managers and supervisors are the linchpin to developing new talent. Without them, the company could find itself with nobody on the bench to take on future challenges. For your career, this lead role is high risk/high reward.

Dan Pontefract, Head of Learning and Collaboration, TELUS, told us:

Leadership is for all, but front-line and middle managers hold the key to the actual development of individual contributors. The more we pay attention to this direct relationship, and the more senior leaders do everything they can to ensure the tools, resources and opportunities are at the fingertips of these managers to assist people who are at the heart of the customer experience, the
more likely we will be able to solve the rigidity of hierarchical management. Empower your people; let them help others learn how to learn. Let them be the sherpas of both employee and career development.

While every situation is different, we’ve found that it’s best to introduce 70-20-10 in a small department and use the successes and learnings from that department to spread the model to other areas

Your sponsor must help you convince managers of the importance of their role in growing people. Managers will need to make time to dedicate to developing their employees, but this doesn’t mean formal learning. You, the learning and development leader, must commit to helping managers get the know-how they need to take on a new, time-consuming — but ultimately fulfilling — responsibility.

Managers have to learn how to develop their people. It doesn’t always come naturally, and managers can get too busy to pay much attention to it.

Let them know you don’t expect them to train their people. Rather, they will set examples for their team; they will foster experiential learning by leading their team to tackle new challenges (the 70), by helping them reflect on the lessons of experience and by coaching them at every step (the 20), and by showing them how to get formal learning on the subject (the 10). This is how you make your learning program cohesive. This is a way for managers to delegate new assignments to strong team members and guide them to success, resulting in both a completed project and the development of the team. In the long run, the manager and the worker both perform more rewarding, higher-impact work and achieve more in less time.

The new management 

You have to study, pass tests and be certified to be a plumber or accounting clerk. Management has no such barriers to entry. Few managers know the process for developing talent. Your job is to show them how.

Instead of designing programs to teach workers skills, you’ll be convincing managers to apply their experience and knowledge to coax workers to learn for themselves. No more coddling. Think of the “teach a man to fish” saying.

The Learning and Development Roundtable of the Corporate Leadership Council pinpointed three management practices that significantly improve performance.

  1. Setting clear expectations and explaining how performance will be measured.
  2. Providing stretch experiences that help their team members learn and develop.
  3. Taking time to reflect and help team members learn from experience.

These three practices have more impact on performance than the L&D department’s traditional activity of teaching knowledge and skills!

Managers who set clear objectives and expectations and explain how they measure performance are much more likely to succeed. Their teams outperform their peers by 20%. That’s an extra day every week to get the job done (and engage in deep learning). Managers should make explicit why they’re assigning particular projects, what they expect people to learn and what sort of debrief will occur after the assignment.











If you’re going to make this happen, start developing and polishing a compelling elevator pitch. Give it a shot right now. Pick a few things from the following list and mash them up with your organization’s needs. Get it down to three minutes and commit it to memory.

  • Our company’s demand for capable, can-do talent is insatiable.
  • People learn to do complex jobs by doing them. Experience is the best teacher.
  • Our front-line managers are the only people in a position to select and assign the stretch assignments that will challenge our people to become true professionals. Unfortunately, we’ve provided them scant guidance in how to carry out these responsibilities.
  • We can put a new management practices in place that focus on working smarter, making people productive sooner, accelerating talent development and integrating learning and work.
  • Instead of maximizing efficiency and avoiding irregularities, managers must create organizations that are more agile and human.
  • The new role of management is to facilitate the discovery of solutions, not to dictate them.
  • Training used to focus on requests to fill gaps. Now we will focus on building the workforce capability to support future organizational strategy.

In a survey of thousands of people at 51 global organizations, only 14 percent of executives said they would recommend working with L&D to a colleague. More than 50 percent said they’d advise colleagues not to waste their time talking with L&D14. Training has a bad reputation — better to suggest entrusting development to respected managers until that reputation has been repaired. If you lead the effort and succeed, you can help change this reputation.


The 70-20-10 model depends on L&D teaming up with managers to improve learning across the company, but often managers do not appreciate how vitally important they are in growing their people. This is the absolute, must-do secret to success to improving learning and development. Frontline managers must take this as the very definition of manager: someone who develops others by challenging them with assignments that stretch them to the point of flow17. This takes a can-do manager who knows how coaching creates mental models and habits, how motivation activates a chain of high-performance activities and what success habits their team members need to adopt.

Charles Jennings says that the role that managers play is far more important than that of Learning and Development or HR. Your role is to help managers learn that:

  • People learn from experience.
  • Managers shape the experience of the people on their team.
  • Experience coupled with reflection sticks lessons in memory.
  • Daily mid-course correction is much more powerful than after-the-fact reviews.
  • Every project they assign is a potential learning experience for their team members.

Business managers ask if they should invest 70 percent in experiential learning, 20 percent in coaching and 10 percent in the classroom. The answer is no. 70-20-10 is a framework to kick-start thinking about where to focus your efforts. Depending on where you’re starting from, your needs will vary.

Understanding the 70-20-10 framework helps managers reflect on their own experience and provides a starting point for discussion with other managers.



This paper draws heavily on the work of Charles Jennings, a leading thinker and practitioner in human development, change management, performance improvement and learning. Charles is senior director of the Internet Time Alliance. He has deep experience in both the business and learning practitioner sides of learning and performance. He knows what works in the world of strategic talent and effective performance and productivity approaches.

Charles is the Founder of The 70:20:10 Forum, a global membership portal helping professionals implement the 70:20:10 framework to maximize performance and productivity. The Forum offers a vast repository of practical information and connects members with a vibrant global community of fellow practitioners.  As part of its social responsibility, the Forum supports projects at Sreepur Village, a refuge in rural Bangladesh for destitute women as well as trafficked or abandoned children.

Another source of inspiration is Heather Rutherford, founder of Blended, an organizational learning solutions company. With a philosophy centered on the 70-20-10 framework, Blended supports clients in implementing a simple and powerful architecture supported by best-practice tools and resources to increase engagement, improve productivity, efficiency and performance.


About the Internet Time Allianceita

The Internet Time Alliance helps clients understand and embrace complexity and adopt new ways of working and learning. We ask the tough questions and explore the underlying assumptions of how they do business. Then we work with them to develop strategies and plans for transformation and improvement. Email me for information on working with the Alliance.


About GoToTraining


Online Training Made Easy™

Citrix GoToTraining is an easy-to-use online training service that allows you to move your entire training program online for more efficient customer and employee training. To learn more, visit www.gototraining.com.

Citrix sponsored the research and writing of much of the material in this set of posts. Please visit CitrixOnline to see the original paper in its entirety.


About the authorjcc

Jay Cross is an author, advocate and raconteur who writes about workplace learning, leadership, organizational change, innovation, technology and the future. His educational white papers, articles and research reports persuade people to take action.

Jay has challenged conventional wisdom about how adults learn since designing the first business degree program offered by the University of Phoenix. A champion of informal learning and systems thinking, Jay’s calling is to create happier, more productive workplaces. He was the first person to use the term eLearning on the web. He literally wrote the book on Informal Learning. He is currently researching the correlation of psychological well-being and performance on the job.

Jay works from the Internet Time Lab in Berkeley, California, high in the hills a dozen miles east of the Golden Gate Bridge and a mile and a half from UC Berkeley. People visit the Lab to spark innovation and think fresh thoughts.He is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Business School.

Does your company need substantive white papers and webinars like this? Get in touch.


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