Rewriting the 70 20 10 model of learning – The OSF Ratio

The rising importance of focused learning & development amongst organisations

Imagine an upheaval that forces your employees to change the working norms overnight. Learning & Development teams are encountering a plethora of challenges to keep the learning initiatives engaging and impactful in this extremely complex and uncertain world. We are living in a digital era with changes following one after the other in a rather rapid succession, and we’re being forced to learn more and differently, all the time – even in the workplace. Organisations are realising that investing in their employees’ focused learning and development is a great way to up their game, now more than ever.

The 70 20 10 model, developed back in the 1980s, has been commonly used by organisations to categorise the sources through which individuals learn at the workplace. The model, as we are aware suggests, that 70% of our learning comes from on-the-job training and experience, 20% comes from social learning through various relationships at work and the remaining 10% comes from formal training.

Learning experts have always suggested that this model is not a prescription but more of a guideline. It is also argued that this model doesn’t focus enough on more structured learning methods which are vital for achieving the learning objectives as well as the expected performance levels.

Over the past few years, studies have shown that learners respond to different learning sources in different ratios. The 70 20 10 model can no longer be considered as set in stone. Moreover, when the 70 20 10 model was developed back in the 1980s, learning and development were still governed by a command-and-control style of leadership and was considered majorly for leaders and managers. The model may not fit well for developing skills in daily learning and workflows. With the advent of technology and the various options that it provides to modern-day learners, the ratio no longer sits well.

Today, L&D professionals across the world are shifting focus from not one approach fits all to a more customised and self-curated individual learning experience for their employees. Learning & development professionals need to arrive at an optimal balance between the 3 sources considering the different roles and industry types.

Deconstructing the 70 20 10 model

A better or more learner-oriented way of looking at the sources of learning is through the OSF model – On the job, Social and Formal training. But you will ask, how is this model any different? This model or this way of looking at the sources of learning helps you break the traditional ratio and makes you consider a ratio more appropriate for the type of industry, the role of the learner, country, size of the organisation, experience of the learner, etc. This makes the old ratio redundant and helps you consider a more flexible guideline rather than a strict rule. If you look at a custom OSF ratio for your learning initiatives, you will also realise that you are creating a more holistic learning experience optimising through the various sources.

Based on the OSF model, L&D professionals must optimise on-the-job learning for each employee. It is also important to note that each source of learning interacts with the other, and formal training is still an important way to develop employee knowledge and skills. However, today’s multi-generational workforce also provides employees higher opportunities to learn from each other. L&D professionals can maximise the learning experience for a learner by developing formal training that facilitates on-the-job and social learning so that the learner can optimise the learning opportunities from their day-to-day working experiences.

Redefining the OSF: Evolution comes with innovation.

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘adapt or die’ and for businesses to achieve success in today’s modern world, this is a universal truth. Today’s competitive landscape heavily relies on innovation and hence it is imperative for leaders to constantly look for new ways to innovate to thrive successfully in the future.

In the year 2022, new approaches to innovation in the L&D space have already been added with the integration of major technologies such as AI, VR and more. Whether it’s On the Job, Social or Formal learning, each of these has revolutionised in accordance to changing needs of learners and to adapt to their requirements and redefine their learning journey.

The learning approach shift to virtual started long before the global pandemic. Although the pandemic has accelerated the shift, organisations globally have now adopted a more active digital-first approach. A blended learning strategy that incorporates using more digitised tools and newer methods to improve learners’ engagement level as well as ensure training effectiveness will continue to serve in today’s ever-changing markets.

A learning organisation is what every organisation should strive to be: committed to constantly learning, growing, and improving. Becoming a learning organisation doesn’t happen overnight and it may take some time to figure out a strategy that best suits your organisation. Get in touch with us today to explore how we can help you develop the right roadmap for becoming a future-ready learning organisation.

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