T&D: All Learning Is Informal Until Someone Resources Formalizing It

The Reason That Most Learning Is Informal Is That It’s Not Worth Formalizing It

From an ROI perspective – compared to other opportunities to invest for a payback.

But if you can convince many that all Informal should be augmented in some form or fashion – say with Performance Support – then you can expand your marketplace beyond the so-called 10% of the 70-20-10 Reference Model.

You can see that the 70 now includes Performance Support – which is clearly Formal Instruction – engineered to reduce trial and error – and confuses what once was “Learning through Challenging Assignments.”

My guess is that there were few, if any, Job Aids available to those two hundred managers who were surveyed about how they learned to do their jobs that led to the 70-20-10 Reference Model. Besides – that was some Current State – not to be confused IMO with the Ideal, Future State.


Flip It

Provide Most 10 Before Most 20 Before Most 70.

Help Learners avoid inadvertently learn Poor Practices. Help them build scaffolding to further learn from a foundation of solid facts and practices.

Have some Empathy.


Address High Stakes Performance with Formal Instruction

Including Performance Support.

I’m fine with the so-called 70 – learning Informally – via trial and error – via Challenging or Routine Assignments – as the ROI would be nil or negative if addressed via Formal Instruction.

It sometimes (not always) seems that it is suggested that L&D/T&D has gotten itself involved in EVERYTHING that is needed to be learned – and L&D/T&D needs to back off and leave some of it to Informal Learning means.


Since I’ve been in the field – since 1979 – 40 years now – I never heard anyone claim that T&D should address it all. Never.

Not that some misguided T&D organizations didn’t inappropriately address the Low Stakes Performance of mass audiences – for nil or negative ROI. Many in fact did. And still do.

Targeting our efforts is a critical issue in the biz IMO.

Good stewards of Shareholder Equity do not squander it. They invest for significant returns in alignment with the Enterprise’s Critical Business Issues.

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