70:20:10 framework has seen its induction in several organizations. I got a chance to have a conversation with Dr. Charles Jennings, a learning thought leader and advocate of the 70:20:10 framework to investigate the potential this model hold to accelerate employee workplace learning and performance. He emphasizes that this framework if applied strategically, can enable organizations to compress time-to-competence. In this article, I will share 9 guidelines Dr. Charles shared that applied strategically can enable organizations to compress time-to-competence.
Charles Jennings is one of the world’s leading experts on building and implementing 70:20:10 learning strategies. 70:20:10 is based on observations that high-performing individuals and organizations build most of their capability by learning within the workflow. Also called the ‘3Es approach’ – Experience: Exposure: Education. He has consulted on, and led, learning and performance improvement projects for multinational corporations and government agencies for more than 30 years. Click here to read more about the 70:20:10 framework. http://charles-jennings.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/702010-framework-for-high-performance.html.
What’s wrong with today’s training?
“The traditional training model really emerged to meet industrial requirements – requirements of standardization; requirements of following the defined process; requirements very much to do with the industrial society rather than the post-industrial society. Today there is increasing complexity; there is an increasing number of jobs that require the ability to deal with ambiguity and require decision-making and higher cognitive skills. Many of the transactional jobs have been replaced by technology or have been reduced due to ‘de-layering’ in organizations. What we need to help people develop for now is decision-making work – work which is not going to be repetitive.”
“I also think there is this factor that I call ‘the inherent inertia of training’. There is an inertia in the training model. It takes time to develop a really good training program, it can be six months, it can be a year whereas often the requirements of senior people in organizations to implement a change and to make things happen don’t allow for that sort of time. When I was in a Chief Learning Officer role, I noticed that training and learning specialists would often spend three or four months carrying out a training needs analysis. Now there are two problems there. Firstly, you don’t have three to four months to carry out that sort of analysis. And secondly, the thinking behind training needs analysis was probably wrong from the start. ‘Training needs analysis’ implies that training is the solution – even before we start looking at the problems to be solved. That’s why I often talk about performance analysis, as we need to analyze the performance problem and not the ‘training needs’.”
“When I look at a company that is rolling out a new system – it might be a new finance system or a new CRM system or whatever – almost inevitably, the project team insists on training people (usually in classrooms or through eLearning) on this new system before the system goes live. So by the time the system does go live, the likelihood is that no one remembers anything about the training. What they do when they encounter a problem using the new system is they ask a friend or colleague nearby ‘Have you used this system yet? Can you tell me how I do this?’ or they call up the help desk. Their last option might be to pull out the training manual or their training notes and flick through them to see if they can find the answer to their problem. This is a major drawback of training – It often simply hampers time-to-competence.”
How can Organizations use the 70:20:10 framework to compress Time to Competence?
Dr. Charles shared 9 practical guidelines to leverage the 70:20:10 framework to accelerate time-to-competence.
1. Bring learning in the context and to the point of need
“One of the critical elements in terms of compressing time to competence is if you can bring the learning as close to the point of need as possible, that’s likely to accelerate the opportunity. According to Ebbinghaus’s forgetting curve, if you give people content without context, they will forget 50% of what they’ve learned within one hour. Ebbinghaus’ experiments were carried out more than 120 years ago, but others have replicated his results more recently. Basically, we know that learning without context is often no learning at all.”
“If for example, I give you some directions as to how to get from your office to somewhere else, you would be unlikely just to simply try and remember those unless you’re going to walk out the door now and travel a relatively short distance. If you’re going to get up and walk out the door right now, you may just say ‘okay’. If I said, for example, ‘you go first left then take the second right and go a hundred yards further’ – you might just try to remember that.If the directions were more complex you’d write them down. When things are complex, we don’t try and commit to memory. Also, we usually don’t commit things to memory that we’re not likely to use very often. With a journey, we will learn how to make it only after we’ve done it a couple of times. We learn through practice in context. Many learning professionals (and others) don’t understand that.”
“Certainly learning is generally like that. If we can get help and support when we need it, we can use it straight away. And then once we’ve done it two or three times, we commit it to memory. Once you attempt to use a training model where you take people away from the context of the workplace, you actually create a ‘glass ceiling.”