In the 80s, the so-called “70-20-10 Model for learning and development” created by M. McCall, M. M. Lombardo and R. A. Eichinger, described what they evaluated as the optimal sources of learning by successful managers. It holds that people get:

  • 70 % of their knowledge from on-the-job experiences (knowledge sharing and top down feedback)
  • 20 % from social interactions with others (mentoring, coaching, collaborative learning and interaction with peers)
  • 10 % from formal educational events (traditional courseware instruction and training course)

Nowadays, the approachable offer of online learning platforms and the labour market evolution – where new and hybrid roles are proliferating – have definitely altered the training industry’s views of the 70-20-10 model.

A recent research identified a new concept of learning called the OSF (on-the-job, social, formal) ratio. It represents the relative amount of learning from on-the-job (O), social (S) and formal (F) sources and it depends on the industry, the organization and each learner as well.

In this sense, 70-20-10 is simply the OSF ratio that has become popular among Learning & Development professionals in the 80s. It would be a mistake assuming it as the only working   ratio or the best among many possible ratios.

Under these circumstances, an organization should ask itself: “What is the best OSF ratio for that specific employees’ category?”.

Actually, there isn’t any magic formula. As I said above, the “right” OSF ratio can vary among departments and even among job roles within the same department. However, what the company can do (and should do) is to go deeper in this analysis, investing time and money, tailor making OSF ratios and learning paths for each employees’ categories.

… And, a part from what the company can develop and offer, what an ambitious employee can do by himself/herself?

I strongly believe that every person who aims to develop a successful career should have in mind his/her own OSF ratio. Regardless of what the organization can (or cannot) offer for the specific category.

In my opinion, the optimal sources of learning by successful managers and the consequent right OSF ratio should be basically based on two pillars: determining a clear “from/to” and creating a concrete professional map.

Every professional should deeply know what his/her own best learning approach is. What is the most suitable methodology and what that person needs to enhance a further development. Above all, it’s strategic to identify which experiences will build your career and, more importantly, the few, most meaningful job and learning experiences that can close your “from/to” gap.

Furthermore, a defined professional map can show the experiences you need in the next two to five years to grow your career. Actually, it’s a practical planning dossier describing how you will develop the highest-performing you.

Let’s decide for yourself your OSF ratio based on your own needs, the way you effectively and efficiently learn, your ambitious “from/to” and your meaningful professional map.

The optimal sources of learning by successful managers always start from the first right steps and decisions!


Enza Artino

Key Resources Development Senior Manager at Wyser
Global Search & Selection Practice