01.12.2017

70:20:10: It’s a performance model!

Charles Jennings, the person behind the impact of the 70:20:10 model in corporate training, does not want to go down in history as just another learning theorist: His focus is on performance.

According to him, organisational learning matters more to organisational performance than the learning of individuals. He will present his views in his keynote at the LEARNTEC congress on January 30.

“Organisational learning occurs when an organisation demonstrates the ability to adapt and respond quickly to changing conditions and where information and expertise flow frictionlessly to the points-of-need. We see it happen when learning from successes and failures is part of everyday practice and reflection is pervasive.”

The researcher and training practitioner is convinced that the effect of formal training is overstated: "If you ask yourself about your greatest learning experiences, you will probably not come up with a course you attended. But you may remember someone you worked with as being a great leader or exemplary performer. Or you will think of tough assignments or new challenges that stretched your experiences and made you act differently”. Likewise, he takes the significance of formal qualifications with somewhat a grain of salt: “They help you get a job interview. But I have never hired someone just based on academic certificates, because they are little evidence of your capabilities and potential.” Jennings also sees the focus on competencies as looking back, not forward: “Competencies may tell us what people should be able to do now. However, we need to focus on capabilities, which are all about potential. Organisations that focus on capabilities are the ones which will survive and thrive in our fast-changing world.”

For Jennings, a former Chief Learning Officer of Reuters, learning is about behavioural change. This does not mean that he does not care for formal training offers. “They are important for people to get started, be it after entering a new company or taking on a new role. But alone they do not lead to high performances. The closer to the point of use learning occurs, the greater its effect.” Jennings argues that learning needs to be seen as one of the outcomes of working as well as one of the inputs for work.

Many training professionals agree. But the activities of learning and development departments are still geared to delivering great programmes of courses and seminars. Jennings: “If today, you want to learn something about Excel or some other standard tool or process, you will simply check out the video clips on offer on YouTube. But companies still provide so many Excel and other standard courses for their employees. This is simply not sensible, nor is it a good use of time and money.”

But how do you manage informal learning, which is part of the 70 (learning from work) and 20 (learning from others in the workplace) in the 70:20:10 model? First of all: “Informal learning cannot be managed but should rather be fostered and supported”. “In fact,”, says Jennings, “one of my colleagues at the 70:20:10 Institute explains it very clearly - you should see learning as the intelligent by-product of the continuous improvement in your working processes”. Jennings suggests that, as a leader, your job is to provide a framework that supports learning and development, and, with the help of learning professionals, a performance-focused methodology for regular reflections on the work you do.

Jennings keynote addresses heavily on his recently published book 70:20:10 towards 100% performance which outlines a robust strategy and practical approach based on the 70:20:10 methodology, and contains a set of toolboxs for making learning at the workplace happen.

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