Research reveals that when 70% of our learning is experiential, this delivers more ROI on learning, translating into real behavior change and sustainable performance enhancements.

This is the core of the 70:20:10 Model, developed in the 1980s by 3 researchers and authors working with the Center for Creative Leadership.




Let’s explore this model in more detail:

70% Experiential

Experiential learning happens “in the real world”. This is about creating on-the-job learning experiences, applying new learning in real situations and solving real problems and challenges.

  • Special or stretch projects / assignments: A project or task given to employees, beyond their current knowledge or skills level, in order to “stretch” them developmentally. The stretch assignment challenges employees by placing them in uncomfortable situations in order for them to learn and grow.
  • Secondments or Role Rotations: Exposure to other departments and functions through rotating roles in a structured manner, for a limited time and with clearly contracted outcomes.

 20% Social

Social learning takes place through exposure. This involves using and leveraging relationships and other people to embed and gain new learning.

  • Coaching & Mentoring: A coach supports an employee in achieving a specific personal or professional goal. A mentor guides an employee through sharing their experiences, typically on technical / specialist content.
  • Peer or manager feedback: Using feedback tools or assessments to gain insights from others (direct reports, colleagues, customers) on performance or behavior.
  • Learning Communities: A group of people who share common goals and attitudes, meeting semi-regularly to collaborate on classwork. Could be internally or externally focused.
  • Collaborative Projects: Using small groups as project teams to solve business challenges.

10% Formal

Formal learning involves formal Programmes, Conferences & Seminars. Using formal learning institutions or specialist learning providers for learning – including classroom, on-line and blended options.

Implications for learners

The biggest implication for learners is that we need to start taking responsibility for our own learning. The days of waiting to be sent on training by a well-meaning manager are over. The time has come for each of us to be clear about what we want to learn, why we want to learn it, how we want to learn it, and with whom we want to learn it.

Implications for Learning & Development professionals

The implications for those working in traditional Learning and Development roles and teams is twofold:

First, we need to shift our focus off the formal classroom, and into the real world:

  • How do we create the 90% experiential and social learning opportunities for learners?
  • What do we need to do differently to ensure our offerings are relevant?

Second, there are many aspects of delivery and measurement to consider:

  • How do we incentivise this type of learning?
  • How do we measure it?
  • How do we determine ROI?
  • What happens to our skills spend reporting?

Critical Success Factors

Given that this is a seismic shift for most people, there is a need for focused change management activities on:

  • Building a learning culture
  • Embedding learning into the business
  • Getting people to adopt technology-enabled learning
  • Developing leaders who are on-the-job coaches and sources of learning
  • Learning & Development professionals doing a paradigm shift on their role from learning provider to learning content collator, and learning community facilitator


Where to from here?

There are numerous resources to tap into, including Debbie Craig & Kerryn Kohl’s book: “Accelerated Learning for Breakthrough Results”;

Catalyst Consulting has a wealth of experience in co-designing and delivering accelerated learning programmes using the 70:20:10 model as a basis. Contact us to learn more about our offerings: