Coached Informal Learning

The 70:20:10 model of learning and development states that 70% of learning comes from on-the-job experiences; 20% comes from getting feedback, observing others and developmental relationships; while only 10% comes from formal learning events. Giving managers, supervisors and peers a coaching framework that continuously nurtures individual development will help your organization meet the 20% need.

70/20/10 Model of Learning

Morgan McCall and his colleagues working at the Center for Creative Leadership are usually credited with originating the 70:20:10 ratio ( If we take that ratio and express it in today’s learning and development terms we have:

Formal Learning

Most L&D professionals are familiar with the types of formal learning; it is what they do most of the time.

  • Traditional and virtual classrooms, OJT
  • Self-directed e-learning programs
  • Conferences and conventions
  • Professional certification
  • College or University degrees

Informal Learning

While L&D is familiar with the different forms of formal learning most consider informal learning* outside of their responsibility and yet that is where 90% of learning is occurring.

*Informal learning spans both Experiential and Social Learning.

Experiential Learning happens via:

  • Daily completion of tasks
  • Stretch assignments
  • Special projects
  • Trial and error
  • Self instruction
  • Helpdesk, FAQs
  • Professional journals and blogs

Social Learning happens via:

  • Team assignments and meetings
  • Networking
  • Performance reviews
  • Coaching, mentoring
  • Observation, peer help
  • Professional Associations
  • Online communities of practice

Improved Coaching Skills Can Impact Informal Learning

Coaching is an ongoing process designed to help the performer gain competence and overcome barriers to improving workplace performance. As part of informal learning, effective coaches can help performers achieve results during their normal day-to-day work at their specific moments of learning need.

To improve the success of coaching opportunities, a small investment in developing the five coaching skills, shown on the left, will pay significant dividends.

The vast majority of learning (90%) happens in informal settings and using effective coaching to support informal learning is a best practice. Coaching responsibilities can—and should be—part of everybody’s job.


Jim Sweezie
VP Research and Product Development