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ASK, NOT TELL

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Inspiration from the '70/20/10 Principle'

Updated: Mar 18



I was introduced the “70/20/10 Principle” a few months ago. It is being practiced by a lot of big corporations e.g. HP http://h41112.www4.hp.com/jobs/uk/en/offers.html , Bank of America http://www.clomedia.com/talent.php?pt=s&sid=2680&mode=preview , Marsek http://career.maersk.com/en/Development/Pages/LearningPhilosophy.aspx , Mars http://www.mars.com/global/Careers+at+Mars/Why+Mars/Grow+with+us.htm Mars describes the principle as follows:


“……..Research [Footnote] shows that the best combination for learning to be most effective is in the ratio 70/20/10:


70% of all learning comes from doing

20% of learning comes from observing others

10% of learning comes from the formal process of being taught. Included in this are books, training courses, or lectures that you may listen to……..”


When I really think about it, it is true. Take myself as an example. Think about the banking knowledge I have learnt in my life. Not the theoretical knowledge, but the working knowledge which I need to perform the banking tasks e.g. lending. Most comes from on-the-job experience e.g. lesson learnt. Or I would say only a little comes from the training courses I attended. I would say it is the case for most of my banking friends.


Then think about the training departments. Most if not all are supposed to add value by making people learn the necssary skills, knowledge or attitude. Interestingly, most focus just on formal learning i.e. the 10% piece!! I can imagine some focus on the 10% because they are mandated to be in the beginning. (They are called the training department… after all.) But would it be too risky to the department? Even if its training courses are extremely effective, it contributes to only 10% of the learning!!


It also makes me think about myself. I love conducting training classes. But am I doing something which is much less effective than ‘on-the-job learning’ and ‘learning from others’?


[Footnote] I have not yet found out the details on the supporting research. In particular, I want to understand what 70% exactly means. Literally, it seems to mean that 70% of what we know know comes from actually performing the tasks e.g. lesson learnt. Or does it mean that we should put 70% of our resources (e.g. time) to ‘doing’ in order to be qualified as ‘best combination’?

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