70-20-10 Development Plan: How to create one (Free Templates + Examples)

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Last updated:
January 10, 2022
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5 minutes

Who would’ve thought a study from the 1980s would inspire one of the most popular L&D models we know today? The 70-20-10 framework is a collective brainchild of authors and researchers McCall, Lombardo, and Morrison, they asked about 200 executives to recall pivotal career events and their learnings. 

The results culminated in what we now know as the 70-20-10 development plan. 

What does the 70-20-10 rule mean?

The rule suggests that individuals learn via 3 main ways - on the job, via constructive feedback, and formal learning - each method carrying a different weightage.

  • On the job learning: 70% of their knowledge comes from job-related experiences
  • Learning through feedback: 20% absorbed from interactions with peers and mentors
  • Formal learning: 10% from formal courses and events
A table explaining the 70-20-10 development plan with its different dimensions.

There is a strong connection between an employee’s career growth and their experiential learnings (70%). There are many potential reasons for this. For one, it enables them to gain pivotal skills like communication, and self-reliance—that open doors for new opportunities. 

While, courses and events have minimal significance (10%) on an employee’s development.

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What is a 70-20-10 development plan?

Think of the 70-20-10 rule as a general guideline to use the right resources to facilitate on-the-job learning, formal learning, and learning through feedback.

It is an L&D model commonly used by organizations to maximize their employees’ effectiveness of their learning, and development programs through external inputs.

This model appeals to so many L&D pros because it’s easy to understand and get buy-in from internal stakeholders. 

And a 70-20-10 development plan does work. It’s been widely tested and backed by research. Center for Creative Leadership’s Lessons of Experience research explored how executives learn, grow and change over 30 years. 

Creating a 70-20-10 plan for your employees

All successful L&D initiatives have one thing in common—an actionable plan that can be implemented easily. 

Here’s how you can create your plan - 

Assess current learning sources

Use the following questions to assess current learning sources:

  • How does learning happen at your organization right now? 
  • If you already have formal learning sources in place, how much time and budget is put into that? 
  • Do you have leaders and managers eager to spend time developing their team?
  • What roadblocks do employees currently face?

When you have all the answers, map learning outcomes to your organization’s goals and get started on the draft.

Create an actionable strategy

Once you know what employees need to accelerate their career growth, tie this to your company’s goals as well. This actionable strategy should reflect how you will implement the 70-20-10 rule.

For example, if a goal for people on the marketing team is to get better at Project Management, then it might (highly simplified) look something like this:

  • Goal: Improve project management skills
  • Timeline: 6-months
Type Split Sources Budget













Creating an employee development template can be of great help here—one that is easily replicated for individual needs. Because some employees may need to put in more time per week or prefer on-demand learning over instructor-led training.

Choose the right tech stack

You need to choose tech that works for you, not against you. Unfortunately, LMS (learning management systems) are often under-utilized because they aren’t conducive to engaging learning experiences and aren’t integrated into existing workflows.

Remember, more tools do not equal more productivity. Switching between platforms causes cognitive drain and context switching—a far cry from meaningful work. 

That said, here are the most common tools L&D pros use:

Learning Management System 

Your LMS allows you to deliver, track and manage learning experiences. Choose one like Zavvy that integrates with Slack or Teams, sends reminders over email, and allows you to automate repetitive tasks. 

Project Management Tool

Notion, Trello, Asana, or Monday—whichever project management tool you end up using should be easy to use and offer transparency for everyone involved in the learning experience. 

Messaging/Comms tool

Informal learning has a growing demand in the workplace. Messaging or communication apps that facilitate real-time conversations allow those organic moments to occur spontaneously.

Content creation tool

Niche subjects may require internal leaders to create engaging courses. Invest in a tool that allows you to create courses at scale.

Templates: What does a sample 70-20-10 plan look like?

PDF version of the sample 70-20-10 plan

Here’s a quick pdf format of the sample plan that you can modify for your organization, and individual needs.

pdf development plan 70-20-10

>> Download it here <<

Excel version of the sample 70-20-10 plan

If you prefer using an excel format, you can easily download and edit the file here! We’ve also included a progress tracker in the sample plan. 

70-20-10 development plan including progress tracker in excel

>> Download it here <<

Is the 70-20-10 plan outdated? 

The 70-20-10 model isn’t a crowd favorite. Some L&D professionals don’t find it credible. 

It underplays the importance of formal training and doesn’t account for new-age learning mechanisms. On-demand learning through formal courses is on the rise. Take LinkedIn Learning, for example. Gen Zers watched 50% more hours of content in 2020 vs. 2019.

Critics are also skeptical of the data and how it was gathered in the original study. It only looked at executives, and it was a small sample size at that. So does the 70-20-10 rule still have a place in the modern workplace? Does the changing landscape of work demand we revisit the plan?

Training Industry seems to think so. They suggest that instead of taking the rule at face value, organizations should alter the ratio to make it work for them. For instance, instead of a 70-20-10 rule, a 60-30-10 or 50-30-20 might work better.

This has led to a new concept—the OSF ratio. The OSF ratio represents the ratio of learning from different sources - on the job, social, formal. This is a far more flexible way to use the 70-20-10 plan. 

As with any other L&D plan, rapid iteration and feedback is crucial to making these initiatives stick. 
Want to know what’s the right mix for your company? Call our in-house expert to discuss your L&D program for 2022.


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