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The Other 70-20-10 Rule

Charles Jennings’ famous 70-20-10 rule explains how we learn new information in the workplace. When learning new skills, up to 70 percent of what we really learn comes from our own personal experience and discovery, up to 20 percent comes from asking others for help, and just up to 10 percent comes from formal training. 

Did you know a similar 70-20-10 rule applies to creating user-generated learning content? Ask the learning managers currently using Easygenerator at some of the world’s leading companies and they’ll tell you: the vast majority of employees (up to 70 percent) prefer to passively consume knowledge without actively contributing to the shared knowledge base. Others (about 20 percent) just need a little push and then they’re happy to contribute. Then there are those precious few individuals (about 10 percent) who thrive when they’re actively contributing their knowledge to benefit others. 

It’s up to learning managers to facilitate knowledge sharing so that as many employees as possible contribute to the user-generated knowledge base. Here’s a closer look at the different groups: 

70% of employees are passive consumers of knowledge.

A key challenge learning managers face is getting this group to actively contribute knowledge. People often tell me they see contributing learning content as a distraction from their regular tasks. Learning managers can help overcome this hurdle by communicating openly about it at performance review moments. It’s so important to show everyone you value their contribution and consider it an important part of their daily work. 

20% of employees are willing to contribute knowledge, if asked.

This group is fairly easy to get going. Just give them a little nudge and an explanation of “the why” and soon they’re motivated to actively curate and contribute to your team’s knowledge base. 

10% of employees enjoy contributing knowledge and do it proactively.

This group is such a vital asset to you as a learning manager. Your organization’s middle management should reward and focus on retaining this highly motivated segment of the team. The quality of learning content they contribute is also exceptionally high. 

Finding the balance with the other 70-20-10 Rule

In a perfect world, your team would be filled with proactive knowledge-sharers, always eager to contribute and improve your knowledge base. In reality, the numbers tell a different story. The key is to get the most out of what you’ve got. 

When it comes to designing your user-generated learning operation, create an environment within your teams and throughout the organization that makes every employee want to get actively involved. 

You know that 70 percent of your employees will be less likely to actively contribute to your learning content. The key is to provide them with useful and well-designed tools that make them want to contribute again and again. Sometimes a little incentive goes a long way too. 

Be sure to give plenty of attention and appreciation to your star players. They might not need as much encouragement to spread their knowledge, but they’ll still love to be recognized for a job well done. Remember, those employees in the 10 and 20 percent groups can be a major help in getting the other 70 percent to take a more active role.