New light shed on the 70:20:10 model

shed light

The report on DDI Global Leadership Forecast 2014/15 was recently brought to my attention by Corporate Culture expert and creator of UGRs (Unwritten Ground Rules) Steve Simpson. As Steve points out there is no way to capture all of value included in this report in one blog, so he highlighted one aspect of the study, while recommending you get a copy of it for yourself!

The report asks the question:

What do leaders need in order to improve?

Conventional wisdom from research undertaken decades ago has recommended a ratio of 70:20:10, being respectively:

  • On the job learning
  • Learning from others
  • Formal learning

The report analysed data from over 13,000 leaders to investigate how they were actually spending their learning time and a relatively consistent ratio emerged of 55:25:20 – substantially different from what had become an accepted ‘recommended’ breakdown.

Here’s where the research took an interesting and thought provoking turn:

Those organisations where leaders reported the highest quality leader development were isolated and analysed to explore the split in leader development activities.

The results?  The ratio emerged of 52:27:21 – a ratio that more closely aligned with how leaders currently spend their time.

In terms of the amount of time leaders currently spend on leadership development, respondents reported an average 5.4 hours per month, compared with a desired amount of 8.1 hours per month.

How should this extra time be spent? Respondents indicated they’d like to spend more time on formal learning and learning from others.

The report comes to the conclusion that the long-held wisdom of a 70:20:10 split ought to be seriously challenged. And more than that, any ratio risks promoting independent, not integrated learning – another key issue covered in the report.

What do you think?

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