70:20:10 – Time to change how you learn


I had the distinct pleasure to work with Charles Jennings on several occasions.  During that time, he provided me with some great guidance on the 70:20:10 Model of Learning, and has since founded the 702010 Forum, to which I am a member.

The concept is pretty simple – and below is a video that explains the basics:

In our organization, we practice 70:20:10 in a multitude of ways – and as a Team, we try to use one area reinforce the others and to change behaviors so that we are always in a constant state of learning.

Here are some examples of how you can implement 70:20:10 in your organization too:

Learning by Doing – While this seems quite straightforward, ie – learning from our daily job, but by adding a few other pieces to the puzzle it is easy to see why the vast majority of learning takes place here.

  • Take the time to do a retrospective and not only to just learn from your mistakes  If you also document and pass to the rest of the team, you an enabling others to learn from them.
  • Do On the Job Training (OJT) with your team members.  Allow them to experience how other teams function and conduct business.  This will either give them a better understand of the functions of that team (and thus – they work better together) or possibly open them up to a new career path.
  • Break something.  Ok, maybe not literally – but, for many of us technical people this is the easiest way to learn something….as we put it all back together and get it working.  I will insert a caveat here though.  Make sure you do this in a Testing Environment and not Production.

Learning from Others

  • Interaction.  One word – and yet something that doesn’t happen enough.  Facilitate a weekly meeting where everyone brings either one problem they solved previous, or something they are stuck on.  During the discussion around the topic, everyone involved learns from the discussion.
  • Ask Questions.  Growing up, I am sure we all heard our teachers say – “There is no such thing as a dumb question”.  Take that to heart and live it.  Be inquisitive and interact.  Not only are getting clarity on a situation, but you are increasing your knowledge as well.
  • Social Networking.  By interacting with peers in the industry via social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs ect…) you can capitalize on their experiences to help you become better at your own job.  Remember though – don’t just be a wallflower….get involved too.

Formal Learning

  • Formal Classes outside of work.  Another obvious suggestion – but this is one that doesn’t have to break the budget either, nor does someone need to be out of the office for weeks to make it happen.  The website Lifehacker publishes a great periodical article on Free Online Education called Lifehacker U, meanwhile – I myself have blogged on Free Certifications (SolarWinds and the Backup Academy) and Online Training.
  • Weekly internal training sessions, where one person presents to the Team a 5-15 minute sessions on a new technology.  This can be key part of the Learning from Others Interaction meeting, but by formalizing at least one presentation – it gives something that is documented and can be referred to in the future (we record our sessions), and (through the desire to look good in front of one’s peers) it forces the presenter to really know his subject matter….thereby Learning by Doing.

These are just some quick examples, as the possibilities are true endless on how you can implement this model.  In fact, this very blog started out as a way for me to share my my perspectives and encourage me to step outside my own comfort zone.  Its that easy.


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