Spending on 70:20:10

Posted on: January 01, 2018

Categories: Consultancy

Picking up on #1 of our hopes for 2018:

“Organisations will spend 70% on systems, resources and people to motivate & support on-the-job learning, 20% on mentoring and coaching, and 10% on training and self-study programmes.”

Many people have written about the 70:20:10 reference model for learning & development. I won’t try to replicate their thinking here. If you want to understand the model more, take a look at: https://www.702010forum.com/about-702010-framework

What I will say is that I see a lot of organisation who state that 70:20:10 is the model they are working to. Yet often they are still to match their stated intentions with financial resources in the same proportion.

To match spending with aspiration would require a level of change within many L&D departments that is more than just tweaking around the edges. It would be truly transformative.

Let’s take a quick look at the implications…


Imagine an organisation where 70% of the L&D budget is spent on working with the rest of the business to improve performance. That would be the entire focus. It would require L&D to act as performance consultants - asking hard questions, where the answer is unlikely to be a course… More often than not, it may be a change to processes and how those processes are supported.

We tend to promote the Lean approach for performance improvement, but there are others. A lean L&D team would be taking the lead in coaching the business to:

  • understanding the value stream
  • identifying where “waste” is occurring
  • reducing waste (including by developing easily accessible job aids if necessary)
  • improving the flow along the value stream
  • putting in place continuous improvement systems


In our imaginary organisation, let’s spend 20% of the L&D budget on developing managers (at all levels) by helping them to improve their capabilities in:

  • one-to-ones
  • feedback
  • coaching
  • delegation

(This is the Manager Tools Trinity - a resource that I’ve not yet seen bettered for management development - and it’s free!)


The rest of the budget, just 10%, goes towards designing, building, delivering or procuring courses - whether self-study or led, face-to-face or online - to help individuals progress beyond their current jobs.