The magic formula 90:10


The magic formula 90:10

Working in the learning industry we all know the 70:20:10 formula. It was developed in the 1980’s and reveals that individuals tend to learn 70% of their knowledge from experiences and challenging assignments, 20% from developmental relationships, and 10% from training.

From 70:20:10…

The arrival of the internet, and the current growth of online and mobile learning technologies, has altered the training industry’s views of the 70:20:10 model. At the minimum, a growing chorus of training professionals contends that the aged model does not reflect the market’s fast-growing emphasis on informal learning.

… to 90:10

With the change of the market, also the formula changed into 90:10: 90% informal learning and 10% formal learning. It isn’t a “rule”; it simply describes learning as it naturally happens.


Formal or planned learning

Formal learning might only be 10%, but that doesn't mean it's not worth investing in or isn't as impactful as the 90%. Formal training provides baseline knowledge that supports experiential and social learning. And it is the only way of learning that happens in a structured way. A traditional example is classroom training. E-learning is a form of formal learning as well with the benefit that employees can learn whenever they want, wherever they are. It comes in different shapes and sizes, enabling employees to pick training and courses that best suit their needs.

Informal or spontaneous learning on-the-job

  • Social learning: employees sharing knowledge
  • On-demand learning: employees decide what, when, and how they want to learn. It can be from colleagues,
  • Career learning: Learning through on-the-job experiences. It is all about completing tasks, resolving issues, learning from mistakes, and practicing. It is completely integrated into the flow of employees’ work.
Ariane van Rossem

Ariane van Rossem

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Ariane van Rossem

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Arjan Toet

Learning Architect, Director