70, 20, 10

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I’ve been talking about 70, 20, 10 models for a good time, and it seems that it’s applicable in a wide number of different contexts. Generally, it relates to the idea that the majority of time, focus, attention or resources should be focused on established practices or core methods, but room should be left for both extending those core approaches and taking them in new directions, but also for completely new ideas and input.

So in learning and development, the idea is that powerful learning comes from a combination of on-the-job experience and problem solving (70%), feedback and examples (20%), and training courses and material (10%). Eric Schmidt famously described how Google stimulates innovation by expecting employees to dedicate 70% of their time to core business tasks, 20% to related projects and 10% to unrelated activities.

It’s also (as Coca Cola have demonstrated) a useful way to begin thinking about more agile budgeting and content strategies with 70% focused on low risk, bread and butter activity, 20% innovating off what works, and 10% being high risk ideas that could be tomorrow’s 20% and 70%. And I think you can take that concept and apply it to create a useful model for content planning.  

I’ve been wondering why this idea seems to be cropping up more and more, and is relevant for so many different aspects of what we do, I think it’s because the structure of the model is so apt for the times we live in:

70%… because video didn’t kill the radio star, and the start of something new rarely means that previous approaches are completely redundant, replaced or dead.

20%… since, with the availability of expeditious feedback, test and learn processes and the ability to more quickly and easily optimise and amplify should now be common prcoesses

10%… because the rapidity of market change means that every organisation has to build in space for continuous and embedded experimentation if they are not to be outcompeted

I think we often get stuck, and find it difficult to think outside of the confines of established practices, or to change habits that become ingrained. So this is a useful way of developing a framework that is more befitting of the environment in which we all find ourselves, whilst not abandoning tried, tested and perfectly appropriate knowledge, understanding and techniques.

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