The 70/20/10 Theory
Adults Don't Learn by Doing
The original researchers highlighted the importance of hands-on experience as the foundation for dialogue with more experienced leaders and immediate feedback on performance.
As the pace of work accelerates and the rate of business system and organizational change amplifies, what often gets lost is the pause to reflect. Carving out time to step back and see an experience from a different perspective takes time and attention. Even group opportunities for reflection and learning (for example, After Action Reviews) are postponed because of the pressing demands of daily work.
- Find a cadence that works for you to pause and consider “how” you are leading—whether it is a project or a team or a business. Find a habit that reinforces reflection: a walk? Blocked time on your calendar? A walk with a “sounding board” peer?
- Be intentional about taking on new experiences and activities—but pay attention to what you want to learn and are gaining from the experience.
- Ask for feedback - and listen carefully. Don’t be too self-critical of your missteps: you’ll miss important insights.
Business simulations are an extraordinary laboratory for practicing these skills:
- The cycles of decision-making impose “pause points” for reflection.
- The immediate feedback of time-compressed business results helps leaders understand cause and effect.
- The experience offers a practice ground for paying attention to how we learn.
So, when the 10% of 70/20/10 includes a business simulation, it has a disproportionate benefit. A simulation is a unique accelerator for the 70% of learning that comes from experience. For many leaders, the single greatest key to accelerating performance is learning how to learn.