Reshaping 70-20-10 in the Collaborative Economy

As a learning strategist, I was recently struck by the parallels between the Collaborative Economy and a phrase we hear regularly in the L&D world called “70-20-10”, in particular the “20” piece – how we go about learning from others.  Sounds simple right? Yet in many organisations learning from others is a critically underleveraged learning method.  

However, if we look at the key features of the Collaborative Economy, there are many valuable insights we can apply to our models of learning.  Let’s look at each in turn:

  • Moving from passive to active role as consumers – in the collaborative economy, consumers want services on-demand.  If people want to know something, they look it up on Wikipedia, if they need to do something new, they seek a demonstration from YouTube.  Organisations should expect learning to run at the same speed of their business, and shifting the way we meet “wants” and “needs” in the workplace will enable employees to take greater ownership of their learning by “pulling” learning content that is short, targeted and easily accessible at the time of need, rather than volumes of content being “pushed” to them via structured programs.  This will require organisations to strongly align learning content to meeting their strategic direction and the return on investment can be measured not in happy sheets but in how the strategy or goal is executed.
     
  • Distributed power, trust and access – on-demand learning which is “pulled”, changes the target audience.  Rather than the selected few, who are often chosen according to role and hierarchy, access to learning in this new environment is not as constrained.  This potentially opens up development opportunities to all, and for organisations this offers much greater value of investment per participant. The “others” from whom participants share learning becomes a much broader and diverse base.
     
  • Technology enables us to unlock underutilised resources – a number of businesses around the world have emerged that tap into the power of technology to enable people to connect with each other and share all kinds of assets from spaces to skills to well, stuff.  Technology is creating a marketplace for things that have never had a marketplace before.  Taskrabbit for example, enables consumers to outsource errands and skilled tasks to trusted people in their community.  70 per cent of these “trusted people” were unemployed or underemployed before joining.  For businesses, outsourcing tasks using technology can tap into a population with different skills and knowledge, in different time zones allowing work to be done 24-7, and who can offer the variety and flexibility of working this way.  As our demographics shift, take into consideration the wealth of knowledge and experience that is leaving organisations as Baby Boomers are retiring.   Many may wish to remain somewhat connected to the workplace and technology enabled tasking can enable tapping into such rich resources.
     
  • Transform how we match peoples “haves” with peoples “wants” – the foundation of the collaborative economy is peer to peer platforms.  With the right platform and conditions to support it, the learning system will naturally flourish rather than having to be managed by HR.  Matching what skills people have with what learners want or need will help workers get things done and build their reputation capital, turning learning into an embedded social system.

My hope is that if the world of learning and development truly embraces the principles of the collaborative economy, we might stop talking about 70-20-10 and realise that that 20, actually needs to be more like 50, or that the 70 and 20 should really just be combined to be 90.  In years to come we will look back on the 70-20-10 concept, in the way that we now think about the choice we used to make between VHS or Beta tapes, or the Melways or the UBD street directory and realise that the real game was not about choosing between those alternatives but rather creating an entirely different paradigm which provides infinite, moment by moment choices, which we navigate intuitively.

And, at the end of all of this, learning from others will become inextricably interwoven into our success as individuals in our roles, and our organisations success as a business, not in just the 70, 20 or the 10, but 100% of the time.

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