The 70-20-10 Model: Why it’s the most well suited talent development strategy for the GCC
In late April, we were honored to take part in the launch on a new economic development initiative – Global DSM (please see link at the end of the article). Global DSM has been architected to support the development of the regional and state economy by focusing and targeting resources towards the global integration of the Iowa economy. This includes both trade and investment strategies, as well as global talent. As part of the core team that developed the plan, we wanted to share some thoughts around talent strategy during times of change and economic diversification, two trends that are top of mind of business and political leaders in the GCC, and beyond.
My last article focused on providing a framework fort thinking about the development and delivery of learning programs for global talent. For this article, I would like to take a step back, and focus on a broader model for how organizations should approach their overall talent development strategy.
The 70-20-10 model is a talent development strategy that we have found extremely valuable in helping frame our own thinking, and extremely impactful in helping guide the structuring of talent development programs that generate measurable ROI. As detailed below, the focus of the 70-20-10 model on integrated, experiential learning (vice just formal instruction) provides an ideal framework for retaining and developing talent in times of change. Whereas talent development models with a higher focus on formal learning can leave talent feeling isolated and disconnected from the company, the 70-20-10 model helps to situate the learning and talent development experience squarely in the context of the company. Given the current economic changes underway in the GCC, both at the national and at the firm specific level, a talent development strategy well suited to the current tumult could be essential to creating long-term success.
The 70-20-10 model is based on both academic and field based research, and is the prevalent talent development philosophy employed across much of the Fortune 500. While my previous article focused on the 10 of the 70-20-10, this one puts the spotlight on the 70 – 20 and on why this ratio works. The model proposes that 70 percent of learning and development occurs, not through formalized learning and training, but rather, through on the job experiences. 20 percent of learning occurs through peer-to-peer and network learning, and only 10 percent of learning actually occurs through formalized learning experiences, such as classroom experiences etc.
From a tactical perspective, how does an organization develop talent through deliberate focus on the 70 and 20? In terms of the 70, an initial step that organizations can take is to start to identify and leverage low risk or pro bono projects as a key input into their talent development strategy. These sorts of projects provide a low-risk environment to have junior staff take leadership roles, to have them get exposure to products and services of the firm that they may be unfamiliar with, or to assign them work that stretches their current capabilities. These are all critical talent development activities, but intentionally designed to be delivered through on the job experience (the 70) vice through formal training. These strategies not only generate talent development value, but can be cost savers as well, by replacing training expenditure with revenue and brand building projects that yield better talent development outcomes.
In terms of the 20 percent of learning that occurs through networking, a simple and effective way organizations support peer-to-peer learning outside of the company is by sponsoring key talent to become members and leaders or local business clubs and industry organizations. One of the key barriers here is that many organizations only cover costs for senior level staff engaging in external organizations. From a talent development perspective, having junior and high-potential staff engage in external and internal organizations is an important part to their development. Peer-to-peer networks and organizations can accelerate the development cadence for high potential talent, leading to more positive results at a substantially lower cost.
Let me be clear, the 10 percent of learning that occurs through formalized learning experiences such as courses, workshops, etc. are a critical component of the talent development process. The implications of the 70-20-10 model for talent development can be quite revolutionary in that its forces us to address how much we rely on formalized training in place of on-the-job and peer-to-peer talent development experiences. Based on our experience, most organizations rely overwhelmingly on formalized training for developing their talent, where the 10 percent is close to 50 percent or higher. Formalized training not only needs to become a smaller part of the talent development strategies of regional institutions, it also needs to be restructured. Specifically, formalized training needs to be revamped towards supporting both peer-to-peer learning opportunities (the 20 percent), as well as integrating into on the job experiences (the 70 percent).
Many corporate leaders may wish that sending talent to attend a class was sufficient in getting them to up to speed and maximizing their ROI for the organization. The reality is that sending talent to attend a course and then expecting that the new learning will translate into organizational ROI automatically is just that – a wish.
Regional leaders need to address how they can best develop and support regional talent to succeed and the 70-20-10 model is, in our experience, the best suited to the task at hand.
It will be my pleasure to elaborate more in person, at the two exclusive (invitation only) sessions we have planned during the first week of October in the UAE and KSA.