70:20:10 framework has seen its induction in several organizations. I got a chance to have conversation with Dr. Charles Jennings in regards to potential this model hold to accelerate employee workplace learning and performance. Click here to read more about 70:20:10 framework. http://charles-jennings.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/702010-framework-for-high-performance.html. In this 2 part blog, I will share 9 guidelines Dr. Charles shared which applied strategically can enable organizations to compress time-to-competence.
Charles Jennings is one of the world’s leading experts on building and implementing 70:20:10 learning strategies. 70:20:10 is based on observations that high performing individuals and organizations build most of their capability by learning within the workflow. Also called the ‘3Es approach’ – Experience: Exposure: Education. He has consulted on, and led, learning and performance improvement projects for multinational corporations and government agencies for more than 30 years.
What’s wrong with today’s training?
“The traditional training model really emerged to meet industrial requirements – requirements of standardization; requirements of following defined process; requirements very much to do with the industrial society rather than the post-industrial society. Today there is increasing complexity; there is an increasing number of jobs that require the ability to deal with ambiguity and requires decision-making and higher cognitive skills. Many of the transactional jobs have been replaced by technology or have been reduced due to ‘de-layering’ in organisations. What we need to help people develop for now is decision making work – work which is not going to be repetitive.”
“I also think there is this factor that I call ‘the inherent inertia of training’. There is an inertia in the training model. It takes time to develop a really good training program, it can be six months, it can be a year whereas often the requirements of senior people in organizations to implement a change and to make things happen doesn’t allow for that sort of time. When I was in a Chief Learning Officer role, I noticed that training and learning specialists would often spend three or four months carrying out training needs analysis. Now there are two problems there. Firstly, you don’t have three to four months to carry out that sort of analysis. And secondly, the thinking behind training needs analysis was probably wrong from the start. ‘Training needs analysis’ implies that training is the solution – even before we start looking at the problems to be solved. That’s why I often talk about performance analysis, as we need to analyze the performance problem and not the ‘training needs’.”
“When I look at a company that is rolling out a new system – it might be a new finance system or a new CRM system or whatever – almost inevitably, the project team insists on training people (usually in classrooms or through eLearning) on this new system before the system goes live. So by the time the system does go live, the likelihood is that no-one remembers anything about the training. What they do when they encounter a problem using the new system is they ask a friend or colleague nearby ‘Have you used this system yet? Can you tell me how I do this?’ or they call up the help desk. Their last option might be to pull out the training manual or their training notes and flick through them to see if they can find the answer to their problem. This is a major drawback of training – It often simply hampers time-to-competence.”
How can Organizations use the 70:20:10 framework to compress Time-to-Competence?
Dr. Charles shared 9 practical guidelines to leverage 70:20:10 framework to accelerate time-to-competence. Here is the Part-1 of the guidelines. Stay tuned for Part-2 for remaining guidelines.
1. Bring learning in the context and to the point of need
“One of the critical elements in terms of compressing time to competence is if you can bring the learning as close to the point of need as possible, that’s likely to accelerate the opportunity. According to Ebbinghaus forgetting curve, if you give people content without context, they will forget 50% of what they’ve learnt within one hour. Ebbinghaus’ experiments were carried out more than 120 years ago, but others have replicated his results more recently. Basically, we know that learning without context is often no learning at all.”
“If for example, I give you some directions as to how to get from your office to somewhere else, you would be unlikely just to simply try and remember those unless you’re going to walk out the door now and travel a relatively short distance. If you’re going to get up and walk out the door right now, you may just say ‘okay’. If I said, for example, ‘you go first left then take a second right and go hundred yards further’ – you might just try to remember that.If the directions were more complex you’d write it down. When things complex, we don’t try and commit to memory. Also, we usually don’t commit things to memory that we’re not likely to use very often. With a journey, we will learn how to make it only after we’ve done it a couple of times. We learn through practice in context. Many learning professionals (and others) don’t understand that.”
“Certainly learning is generally like that. If we can get the help and support when we need it, we can use it straight away. And then once we’ve done it two or three times, we commit it to memory. Once you attempt to use a training model where you take people away from the context of the workplace, you actually create a ‘glass ceiling.”
2. Take information content out of formal training
“Usually, in a typical training program there is a large amount of content that I would call ‘informational and knowledge content’. Now, a classroom is probably the most inefficient and ineffective way to deliver that information. I wouldn’t suggest that people don’t need that information. Of course, they may need that information, but I think one of the simple ways to reduce time-to-competence is to change the channel of delivery of that informational and knowledge content. One key element to accelerating time-to-competence is that we should change formal training from being content-rich and experience-poor to being experience-rich and content-light. So we should take much of the informational content out and make it available beforehand (may be PDF, online, eLearning module etc.) so that people have access to it before they come to a course. They can read it in their own time as part of their own workflow. That’s just an efficiency measure, which I think will certainly help us just to reduce the time that is spent in terms of training and compress that time. “
“Now, does that compress the time to competence? I think it helps because it goes towards building a mindset of continuous learning. People with this mindset tend to create and use opportunities for learning beyond structured or ‘formal learning environments. They are more efficient at self-directed learning. If content is informational and if it’s about a new process or if they need to know certain things, let people become the masters of their own learning of that and let them learn that and study that and read that in their own time.”
3. Get best out of time when people are together in formal training
“How we are learning? We’re learning through conversations like this. We’re learning through talking to people. We’re learning through reading blogs or reading things in our own time – all the time – or trying things out and making errors. I think the one way we can look at shortening the time spent in training is by encouraging these things. Therefore we can use formal classroom training to get people come together to learn when collaborative learning is best. We should do what we all do best together – ‘learn through experience and practice, share and reflect’. Let’s redesign our instructional development to make sure that it’s deeply experiential that it’s a safe place for people to make mistakes, a safe place for people to share with each other and to learn from each other, a safe place for people to practice.”
4. Build core critical thinking in the training
“When we get down to learning at ‘task level’, we know that many tasks – the way we approach them, the way we complete them in our more complex world – are now often unique, these are not the things that we’ve seen before; we can’t replicate them; they’re not identical. That’s when we need and support those core capabilities of critical analysis. We need to develop those core capabilities, and I would argue quite strongly that training should be focused on helping people build these core skills – critical analytical skills and critical thinking skills. Those are the skills needed. If we bring those together with performance support; we know the right questions to ask to get the right performance support to achieve our performance.”
Stay tuned for Part-2 of the post.
Acknowledgements and Credits: Dr. Charles Jennings. The article can be cited with proper references. All thoughts expressed by Dr. Charles Jennings verbatim. All rights reserved by the author. Image credit Charles Jennings Blog.