The 70:20:10 framework is rooted in research carried out through the 1980s at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in North Carolina, and is generally acknowledged as the origin of the 70:20:10 numbers. 70:20:10 emerged as a meme following the publication of research by Morgan McCall and his colleagues at CCL in the 1990s. Two of McCall’s co-researchers, Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger published the data from one study in their 1996 book ‘Career Architect Development Planner’ which revealed that:
“Lessons learned by successful and effective managers are roughly:
70% from tough jobs
20% from people (mostly the boss)
10% from courses and reading”
Professor Allen Tough’s work on adult learning projects in the 1960s and 1970s found that the majority of learning occurred as self-directed and in the workplace. In researching adult learning and intentional change, Tough identified that ‘about 70% of all learning projects are planned by the learner himself’. Although Tough at the time didn’t refer to a 70:20:10 split, he later acknowledged that is what he found.
A further study published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (1998) referencing research from 1993 and 1994 suggested that people learn about 70% of their jobs informally. Studies supporting evidence that most learning occurs in the workplace include that published by the Education Development Center in Massachusetts in 1997. Following a two-year study involving Boeing, Ford Electronics, Siemens and Motorola, the EDC reported that
“70% of what people know about their jobs, they learn informally from the people they work with”.