So you’ve read the evidence, seen the impact in other organisations, and understand that 70:20:10 is the way to go. But while there’s a will, you’re not sure how to embrace social and experiential learning after decades of focusing on formal training.
Giving up old habits and shifting to what might seem to be a less defined or structured approach can be challenging for all involved. Here are five steps to help get the ball rolling.
1. Use formal learning like a scaffold to an experience
Formal learning is just the ‘10’ of 70:20:10 but, if used right, still has a crucial role to play. The trick is to avoid conceiving it as stand-alone workshops or eLearning modules, and to design formal elements that are integrated into a broader learning journey.
This might be as simple as producing a short ‘primer’ video to highlight key themes (e.g. collaboration and innovation) before a learner embarks on a project. Similarly, a workshop at the end of a work-based action learning project can support learners to share and reflect, thus deepening the gains of informal learning.
Formal learning works best when it acts as scaffolding: supporting, shaping and directing the growth of informal learning, with the view that once removed the informal learning will continue to thrive.
2. Support a learning mindset
You can’t make the change to 70:20:10 without acknowledging the fallout of our past obsession with formal learning. We previously told learners that they must attend events or consume eLearning modules to learn; we’ve told them they must be taught, or trained … as if learning is an external action that happens ‘to’ them.
70:20:10 relies on learners doing what comes naturally (until we got in the way), which is to be proactive continuous learners. We can talk about this upfront, demonstrating the benefits of what Stanford University’s Carol Dweck called a ‘growth mindset’. Concretely this might mean promoting ‘learn to learn’ skills or personal development journals that help empower learners and puts them back at the centre of their learning journey.
3. Focus on performance over knowledge
The temptation when identifying a learning requirement is to focus on ‘what learners need to know’. Stepping back from that and asking ‘what do learners need to do?’ is crucial to having a performance focus.
An action focus might lead you to shelve formal learning in favour of just-in-time performance tools (e.g. checklists); instituting a peer support network (e.g. buddy system); or investing in communication networks (e.g. Yammer) to better support the required capability. Knowledge requirements still exist, but they should be kept to a minimum, with the focus on supporting learners to get the job done in the most efficient, easiest way possible. Ultimately it’s about helping people to work smarter rather than just becoming more knowledgeable.
4. Use social networks … now!
Social learning is most effective when learners communicate in the context of shared projects, but for that to happen there needs to be a culture of using social networking tools in a work context.
Consider what important events, assets or messages your business can share exclusively via social media to support an uptake. Key leaders need to be reading, sharing and commenting on discussions; leading by example but also creating valuable content that will draw more users.
5. Win over and empower managers
According to the 2003 Learning and Development Roundtable, having an effective manager led to a 25 per cent performance improvement in an employee performance. The fact is that managers are at the coalface of 70:20:10 and without their buy-in and support such programs are already at risk.
Managers need to understand their role, be given time and space to do it, and have a toolkit to support them. Arming your managers with the ability to hold effective coaching conversations and providing immediate, strength-based feedback will have a massive multiplier effect throughout your organisation.
Enjoy the ride
Here at DeakinPrime we are constantly working with organisations wanting to make the change to 70:20:10. In some cases it involves implementing innovative blended learning solutions, in others it’s supporting some of the changes I’ve outlined above.
No matter where you are on your journey we encourage you to take the next step, and begin enjoying the lasting impacts of a 70:20:10 approach.