The 70/20/10 Rule: Google, Tweeter… Learning and Development…

The 70/20/10 rule for “innovation” was instituted at Google by Eric Schmidt, CEO. This means that 70 percent of the company’s money is invested in areas relating to its core business of advertising and search, 20 percent in related but secondary businesses, and 10 percent for comparatively wild, new ideas. Google employees have 20% time – almost one day a week – in which they are free to pursue projects that are passionate about and think will benefit Google.

When Eric Schmidt first joined Google ‘one rule’ was handed to him by Brin and Page when he walked in the door: Don’t be evil. The other one is a formula he uses to stay on track while innovating:  70 percent of your time on the core business, 20 percent on related projects, and 10 percent on unrelated new businesses. What do you do with your 20 percent time? Well, 20 percent time applies to the technical staff.  It does not apply to sales or management.

Here’s how it works for management: We spend 70 percent of our time on core search and ads. We spend 20 percent on adjacent businesses, ones related to the core businesses in some interesting way”. But, how do you enforce that 70/20/10 rule? “For a while we put the projects in different rooms. That way, if we were in one room too long, we knew we were not spending our time correctly. It was sort of a stupid device, but it worked quite well. Now we have people who actually manage this, so I know how I spend my time, and I do spend it 70/20/10”.

Recently, Google announced that CEO Eric Schmidt was stepping down and co-founder Larry Page was stepping in as CEO.  With Larry back as CEO, Google is looking to get back to their “Don’t Be Evil” days when employees pushed the limits of their core business while also making breakthroughs on the side into interesting and innovative side projects.  According to Larry Page the 70-20-10 rule will continue to be an important part of an employee’s life at Google. This 70/20/10  model dictates that, to cultivate innovation, employees of a company should utilize their time in the following ratio:

  • 70% of time should be dedicated to core business tasks.
  • 20% of time should be dedicated to projects related to the core business.
  • 10% of time should be dedicated to projects unrelated to the core business.

“I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday” ~Abraham Lincoln

The 70/20/10 rule for “learning” concept was developed by The Human Resources Learning & Development Team at Princeton University, Center for Creative Leadership, and it’s specifically mentioned in The Career Architect Development Planner 3rd edition by Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger. A self-directed learning process is a powerful model for facilitating and inspiring individual, group and organizational learning and development. This process is built upon three major principles:

  • Identification of gaps between one’s ideal self and real self. These gaps represent a primary motivator to learn and improve.
  • Creation and implementation of a challenging and realistic action plan for development that follows the 70/20/10 formula.
  • Ongoing development dialogue between learners and supervisors. Both have a responsibility to ensure that the entire learning process happens.

The 70/20/10 model is built upon how individuals internalize and apply what they learn based on how they acquire the knowledge, and includes:

  • 70% of learning & development takes place from real-life and on-the-job experiences, tasks, and problem solving.
  • 20% comes from feedback and from observing and working with role models.
  • 10% of learning and development comes from formal training.

Many leadership development programs apply the 70-20-10 rule for learning in reverse, with heavy emphasis on formal training, and little or no support or on-the-job experience.  As a result, development ends when the leader leaves the classroom. However, there are some industry formal training programs that integrate the 70-20-10 rule for sustained skill development and on-the-job knowledge transfer well beyond the program.

In the article “Newsman Learns by the 70:20:10 rule” by Graeme Philipson writes: Charles Jennings believes that most corporate learning initiatives are misplaced. “There is a ‘conspiracy of convenience’, which begins when a manager decides that some training might help his team perform better”.  Mr. Jennings says too many people assume that newly acquired knowledge and skills will automatically translate into performance improvement, which will then flow through into business benefit. “Too many learning professionals and managers are obsessed with transferring information into employees’ heads, even though they know that the amount of information is growing very quickly and that the nature of that information is changing. They also know that people’s work is constantly changing.

“These changes mean that knowledge workers actually need less knowledge to do their jobs than they did a generation ago. Mr. Jennings calls this the 70:20:10 rule. “About 70 per cent of organizational learning takes place on the job, through solving problems and through special assignments and other day-to-day activities. “Another 20 per cent occurs through drawing on the knowledge of others in the workplace, from informal learning, from coaching and mentoring, and from support and direction from managers and colleagues. Only 10 per cent occurs through formal learning, whether classroom, workshop or, more recently, e-learning. “But most organisations invest at least 80 per cent of their training budgets in formal learning…

In the blog “Urban Myth of the 70/20/10 Rule” by andrewl writes:  Just where did the 70/20/10 rule come from? Many management professionals are using it to accelerate the development of their top tier leaders. It is regarded as the best practice model for learning and developmentThe premise is that 10 percent of learning time should be devoted to formal learning, so that participants gain a solid base of knowledge and skills.  20 percent of development should come from others such as coaching from a boss, peers, subject matter experts and mentors. Finally, 70 percent of learning should occur on the job, so that participants can learn by doing and immediately apply lessons from formal learning and others.

Many organizations agree in theory, but getting it right is another matter altogether. Intuitively at first sight the 70/20/10 rule seems perfectly sensible. Spend most of your time learning in a real live work situation. Yet the true meaning of the rule when you dig into it is that 70 per cent should be experiential learning. This is not the same thing as doing it at work. For example “experiential” learning, where talk and chalk or classroom style delivery gives way to what is called “active learning”, is extremely effective at transforming behaviour, particularly in business organisations.

In contrast to talk and chalk, experiential learning makes greater demands on learners. Pioneer and expert on experiential learning Carl Roger’s argued it is essentially equivalent to personal change and growth. He claimed all human beings have a natural propensity to learn. To encourage this means: (1) setting a positive climate for learning, (2) clarifying the purposes of the learner(s), (3) organizing and making available learning resources, (4) balancing intellectual and emotional components of learning, and (5) sharing feelings and thoughts with learners but not dominating. The essence of Roger’s view is that the person must participate completely in the learning process and have control over its nature and direction.

Behind experiential learning lies the assumption that we seldom learn from experience unless we assess it, make sense of it through choosing our own goals, aims, ambitions and expectations. From these processes come insights, discoveries, and understanding. The pieces fall into place and the experience takes on added meaning in relation to other experiences.

Experiential learning is therefore concerned with discovering and meeting learner’s needs and wants, through giving them an experience and hence learner-centered, a “hands on approach” and one of the most widely used descriptions is Kolb’s four stages of experiential learning.

Critics like Philip Race, reject this kind of cyclical model as unrealistic, prescriptive and needlessly academic. Their simpler view is that learning stems from: practice, trial and error, having a go, repetition and experimenting. This can be entirely work-based, but equally one can create highly demanding situations outside of work that provide exactly Race’s requirements. Whatever the exact process, the point of experiential learning is that it designed to affect actual behaviors, whether in terms of attitude, skills or some other aspect of actual performance.

Even though experiential learning is such a powerful movement, talk and chalk continues to play a major role in much training and development in organizations. The question is why? The most obvious answer is that it easy and cheap to implement. Many organizations are reluctant to fully evaluate the effectiveness of their learning and development investment, so the actual evidence against talk and chalk often remains hidden.

Another, perhaps more compelling reason, is that evaluating experiential learning is complex: is it a program, a teaching method, an exercise, or a work-based methodology?  One thing seems certain though, the 70/20/10 rule for learning is more akin to an urban myth. It suits an era in which investing in proper experiential learning can be conveniently attacked on cost grounds, rather than its effectiveness.

In the article “Let’s Kill a few Learning Holy Cows – 70:20:10 is Dead (or at least seriously ill)” by njh  writes: Organizations don’t learn.  Teams don’t learn.  Networks don’t learn.  People learn.  People can learn to perform (better) in organizational, network or team contexts; they can even learn in teams, but organizations and teams don’t learn. Individual learning is it.  But context is crucial. The role of the corporate learning organization is to develop human capability to execute business strategy.  A key skill of the members of the training team is therefore to work with business leaders to translate company goals and strategies into objectives that can be achieved via learning.  The goal of a learning program should be to “enable [employees/partners/customers…] to achieve [company objective].  Learning objectives should support the program goal.

The implication that often follows references to 70:20:10 is that we are wasting resources on formal training, and that social collaboration/informal learning is some sort of nirvana….Just ask two simple questions: (a) is 70:20:10 true, and (b) if so, how do we know?  Everyone in the learning space seems to assume (a) is true, but we all get a bit vague about (b).  The answer to (b) is almost always “because I read it in ____ (insert your favorite training magazine title)”…. A simple challenge: find the source of the 70:20:10 concept… The best that could be found was that the 70:20:10 rule for learning was never researched; it was conceptualized by Allen Tough in 1968 and put forward as a hypothesis, and formalized by Morgan McCall, Robert W. Eichinger, and Michael M. Lombardo at the Center for Creative Leadership, Princeton University

A final thought on the 70/20/10 rule for learning: To ensure that real learning takes place and endures, emphasize and encourage a holistic approach by integrating both formal and informal elements. The most effective way to learn and develop a new skill or behavior is to apply and practice it in real life situations. Learning and development philosophy is built upon how individuals internalize and apply what they learn based on how they acquire the knowledge. Many believe that the key elements to a successful learning process include both the “70/20/10 formula” and how individuals internalize and apply what they’ve learned.

            ~~~~~~~ 70/20/10 Rule for Twitter ~~~~~~~~

In the blog “Do You Comply with the 70-20-10 Rule for Twitter?” by editor, blog-DFW Renaissance, writes: Recently, @AnnWylie wrote a short piece in her PR/Writing newsletter titled “How to Make Your Tweets More Useful.” And it included (along with the very interesting information that the biggest day for tweeting is Tuesday) an explanation of @AngelaMaier‘s 70-20-10 rule, which recommends that:

  • 70 percent of your tweets share resources — blog postings, articles, opinions and tools
  • 20 percent of your tweets engage in conversations and connections
  • 10 percent of your tweets “chirp,” or chat about yourself, your life and your thoughts.

My scores, which I just got by counting my last 20 posts on Tweet deck, are more like:

  • 15% share resources
  • 60% engage in conversation
  • 25% updates on what I am doing.

However, I don’t go to twitter looking for articles; I go looking for people, for personality. Also, I’m looking for freedom and the surprising. I’m not alone in this. Back in January @ChrisBrogan wrote the post “You’re doing it all wrong?” where he does a complete send-up of the idea that twitter can even have “rules.” I mean, yes, you can make a list of ideas on how to tweet and call them “rules.” But really they’re only suggestions, guidelines.

One of the big things about Twitter, I believe, is that there are no rules. There are a lot of different types on twitter and each has their own formula of tweet balance. There are some tweeds who are more than anything else like a morning DJ, blasting out news and notes from the scandalous to the profane. Others go on all day chatting with friends. Some really do give updates on what they are doing. Is this okay? With me, it’s okay. I feel you have to work out your twitter identity with fear and trembling.

The 70-20-10 rule is now being applied to Social Media in general, but most pointedly at Twitter. While references come up regularly across the Internet, the genesis of it seems to be Angela Maiers’ “Twitter Engagement Formula”…

  • Share Resources (70) –  Successful learning in the 21st Century is not what you know, but what you can share, so 70 % of my Twittertime is spent sharing others voices, opinions, and tools.
  • Collaborations (20) –  20% of my Tweets are directly responding, connecting, collaboration, and co-creating with like-minded Twitter colleagues. From these important tweets, lifelong professional and personal relationships have been forged.
  • Chit-Chat (10) – 10% of my Twittertalk is “chit-chat-how’s-your-hat” stuff. It is in these “trivial” details shared about working out, favorite movies, politics, and life in general that I connect with others as a human being.

This breakdown was further distilled by WebMarCom…

  • 70% of the time, listening and communicating
  • 20% of the time, adding information
  • 10% of the time, talk about you/your business

Or a slightly different twist by DFW Renaissance…

  • 70% of your tweets share resources — blog postings, articles, opinions and tools
  • 20% of your tweets engage in conversations and connections
  • 10% of your tweets “chirp,” or chat about yourself, your life and your thoughts.

When I started dissecting these breakdowns for myself to figure out what they had in common and what they were really driving at, it seemed like a very simple directive…

  • 70% – Give
  • 20% – Exchange
  • 10% – Take

In those brutally simple terms, the ‘Engagement Formula’ is not just good for Twitter or Social Media, but I would advocate it for life in general.