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Author's profile photo Thomas Jenewein

Learning SAP: The 70/20/10 Model

SAP Education recently began offering new types of conferences in Germany, and the SAP Skills is one such event. I had the pleasure of presenting the keynote this year, where I focused how learning SAP skills happens successfully and how this might look like in the future. The 10/20/70 model is a very good framework to illustrate effective learning. In this post I will briefly explain this approach, and highlight how you can use it for learning SAP.


The 70/20/10 Model explained

The 70/20/10 Model is a learning and development model based on research by Morgan McCall, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger from the Center for Creative Leadership in 1996. Lombardo and Eichinger published data from one study in their 1996 book “The Career Architect Development Planner.”  Their survey showed that lessons learned by successful and effective managers are roughly:

  • 70% from tough jobs
  • 20% from people (mostly the boss)
  • 10% from courses and reading

Over the last few years it was further developed, for example within the area of innovation management. Google aims to cultivate innovation by suggesting employees use their time in the following ratio: 70% of time should be dedicated to core business tasks; 20% of time should be dedicated to projects related to the core business; 10% of time should be dedicated to projects unrelated to the core business.


As a framework it can be used in different areas of learning and development. At SAP, the model has been used for many years internally in different ways, for example, to design learning programs. So it is part of the design to have on-the job learning and learning from other people. The model is also part of  key processes like annual development plans for employees. In the development activities section, employees can define those activities according these three


I adapted the model to SAP Education based on experience we had at SAP, and also inspired by the work of Nick van Damm, Chief Learning Officer at Deloitte. In the below graphic, you can see different examples of the methods and media which can be applied along the model.



10/20/70 applied to learning SAP: 10 – Formal learning

Formal learning in the classroom forms the very foundation of SAP Education, but opportunities have been expanded considerably in recent years. There are various e-learning formats available, like virtual classrooms, web based trainings, and entire bundles of e-learning content such as E-academies, as well as certification as a proof-point of expertise along an industry standard. There are many interactive workshops available to discuss and interact face-to face about real cases. These include topics which are not purely technical, like Design Thinking or agile project methods. Other new formal formats are e.g. skills conferences in Germany like Security Days or SAP Skills, where attendees can select from various tracks covering SAP Expert sessions on important areas like SAP HANA or operations-critical topics like SAP Solution Manager. Moocs like openSAP are another way of formal learning, however  in most cases blended with social  learning.

20% social and on-demand

In this section the lines blur.  Social learning via coaching and mentoring is very powerful, but it does not really scale. With social media like SAP Jam there are many different scenarios, like communities of practice, blending formal learning with social media or others. This is where learners can learn from each other, and where new roles come into play, like “gardeners” and “facilitators” fostering collaboration and discussions to keep the communities alive. Simulations like SAP’s ERP SIM Game are another form of social learning. A nice new way to combine social learning and mobile learning is the SAP
Learn Now app
which is basically e-learning for the iPad and Android, including discussion forums.

In the SAP Community Network customers and partners can also learn from each other and keep up to date with more than 2,5 million active participants. There are other social channels managed by SAP Education on well-known platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter , Facebook or SAP experts you can follow on Twitter. Some socail channels are even available by country, like the German-speaking SCN Community, so that more personalized updates in local languages are possible. Following, discussing and engaging with SAP experts on various social channels is a great source for continuous learning. For examples of other tools which you can check for further inspiration, see this this list put together by Jane Hard, an expert in social learning: Top Tools for learning.


To have learning integrated into the overall process of work and to have it available for on-demand learning is not a new thing.  However, new technologies now make it easier than ever to accomplish. You can learn when you need to do it, so you don’t have the issue of forgetting or transferring knowledge to the job. Of course, this needs appropriate tools and content which make it possible, like SAP Workforce Performance Builder. Opportunities for on demand learning, also called electronic performance support (EPSS) go beyond knowledge work with use cases like context sensitive application help. For example, in mining and energy, substation machines have embedded barcodes, QR codes or RFID chips for service and operations reasons. They also can be used to provide documentation or simulations to support service technicians, or to get the qualification to authorize the machine usage. Information like 3-D simulations can be accessed via mobile devices or smart-glasses as EPSS already now. This follows the “internet of things” approach and is a key trend which will be interesting to watch.

70% on the job learning

If you remember learning to drive a car, your first SAP project, or other complex endeavors, you will agree that most of the learning came from really doing it and then reflecting on it. That is why it is important to always try new things or change jobs (function, geography or level) at certain times to further develop your skills and career. This can also be supported by HR like at SAP, where some employees receive challenging projects meant to stretch their skills or abilities, or they can do half-year fellowships which also serve as project-based job rotations.


The 10/20/70 approach is a general framework, of course, and it’s not meant to be interpreted as meaning that all learning needs to be performed in this exact distribution. It always depends on the complexity of the topic and the knowledge level of the learner. If you are new to a complex topic it can be much more effective to to do initially 70% formal learning and then switch to more social, on demand and on the job learning.

I hope this blog post was useful and informative. Please feel free to share your comments, experiences, thoughts with me right here in the community.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hello Thomas,

      I liked the analogy drawn to 10:20:70 principle from L&D.

      There are many takeaways for me from this article.

      I agree that when you are new to a complex topic the principle gets reversed to 70:20:10.

      Very nice read and sincere thanks to you for this article.



      Author's profile photo Wouter Peeters
      Wouter Peeters

      Great read. I absolutely agree that you learn a lot from social media and online communities such as SCN. Together with reading the foundations of the technologies from courses/books this is an ideal combination for getting up to speed besides your normal day-to-day work!

      This is something they should advise to starters to do ( technical consultants ) because the SCN blogs are not well known to these people as far as I know.



      Author's profile photo Thomas Jenewein
      Thomas Jenewein
      Blog Post Author

      Hello Wouters & Prasenjit, thanks for the comments - i am glad that you find the post useful. Just a further note: from SAP-Education we currently work on different new offerings where social learning is part. One is already live: the SAPLearnNow App where SCN discussions are integrated as social learning element. Others will be available in the near future - will keep you posted here on SCN.... Regards, Thomas

      Author's profile photo CHANDRAMOHAN MUDLIGOWDA

      Only when we are on the Job ... we tend to execute our skills, as a consequenceour learning curve gets elevated... also one should be passionate enough to learn about upcoming technologies and this blend is what makes one reach his/her destiny... 70:20:10... is the rule to elevate your learning curve...

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      A very interesting article, Thomas. Thank you. However, I think there are some misconceptions contained in it.

      Although the 70:20:10 framework can be used to improve structured learning (the '10') through extending classroom training into the workplace and by breaking the constraints of time and place by using eLearning, these activities are still within the '10' of the 70:20:10 framework. They are activities that are designed by L&D professionals. They constitute 'directed learning' rather than learning from experience (the '70').

      It is probably best explained as 'adding' or 'injecting' learning into the workplace rather than 'embedding' or 'extracting' learning from work. Extended classrooms and eLearning 'add'. Performance support systems 'embed'. Narration of work, reflective practice, storytelling and many other approaches 'extract' learning from work.

      It is great to see instructional designers extending their designs to include social and workplace aspects, but that's what I would call 'evolutionary' development into a 70:20:10 approach.  It is still managed by someone other than the person who is learning and developing their skills - therefore still part of the '10'.

      'Real' '70' and '20' learning is self-directed, or agreed between the worker and their manager. It sometimes may be serendipitous. It is not planned by learning professionals.

      My '70:20:10 Framework Explained' book clarifies the differences and lists the types of activities that fall into each category - although it is important also not to think of 70:20:10 as consisting of discrete categories. Like all things to do with learning it is more often a continuum. Learning is all about behaviour change and performance improvement as a continuous process over time. It is not about a series of discrete 'learning' events. They may help, but they do not present the full story.

      It is great that so many organisations are using the 70:20:10 model. However the components can't be 'managed' in their entirety. Learning and Development professionals need to develop an understanding of this fact.


      Charles Jennings

      Director, 70:20:10 Forum

      Author's profile photo Thomas Jenewein
      Thomas Jenewein
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Charles,

      txs for the comments. Absolutely agree to your points - esp. that 70/20 needs to be self directed. And it defenitely can not be "controlled" like setting up formal classes. (Where we also could argue that - just if someone sits physically in a class or passes a test does not mean he changes behavior or attitutes --- so formal also can not be really controlled - just loooks more like controllable).

      What L & D - and other functions like KM, Education units from Business areas and other can do is to make 20% a bit easier & effective.

      For example without some facilitation in set-up and operations a community is not that effective - or if yes then by accident. If we can call it managing - think that is perhaps a matter of wording.  Or would you see the supporting of CoPs under the 10%?

      Also with 70% I am a believer with rotation & job-stretch and similar offerings which support on-the-job learning.

      Another important point i see is reminding managers & employees that learning is not only formal training (Yes, some still believe that - although we at SAP preach the 10/20/70 since more that 10 years already). Or offering EPSS options, enableing new roles like gardeners, knowledge brokers, facilitators, curators. In my book People Development 2.0 we collected various case studies from companies and approaches from analysts & academia (unfortunately in German 🙂 )

      BTW: Do you have a word you favour against "managing" when talking re the 20 % 70?

      best regards Thomas

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member


      I think we're actually in agreement.

      You make a very good point about the illusion of 'controlling' learning in formal situations. To some extent L&D professionals and trainers can control of the environment - setting learning objectives, managing activities etc., but control of 'learning' is only carried out by the learner themselves. Along the same lines, Dr Marc Rosenberg says that learning management systems (LMSs) should be called 'course vending machines' as they really only automate management processes and don't 'manage learning' at all.

      I certainly see the role of facilitating and curating CoPs, for instance, as being critical. That's a role that L&D can take on in some cases. I would see the self-directed learning taking place in a CoP as being in the '20' - learning 'with and through others in a self-directed way'.

      I also agree with your point that there's a need for constant reminders to managers and employees that learning is a continuous process - and that the manager and the worker herself hold most of the keys to building capability and performance.

      We'll certainly see new roles emerge - 'knowledge brokers, curators etc.   I had some  people from different organisations attend a series of 70:20:10 MasterClasses I ran in Australia a few months ago with titles such as 'content curator', 'performance enablement manager' and 'leadership development activation executive' 🙂

      Terminology: I prefer a number of words to describe the role that HR and L&D professionals can have in the '20' and '70' areas:

      - supporting

      - enabling

      - facilitating

      There's a diagram developed by Jane Hart, Harold Jarche and me in this article that, I think, clarifies

      I'm sorry I don't read German, otherwise I would get hold of a copy of 'People Development 2.0'

      Author's profile photo Thomas Jenewein
      Thomas Jenewein
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Charles,

      i like e.g. also the role: community evangelist - also an important one as some people need to spread the words and act as "creators" (next to the many lurkers). We have that role e.g. in the SAP ecosystem as "SAP Mentors"

      Where we were a bit different is on the terminology - for me its always "management" if you define a goal like set up a community, then do what needs to be done, monitor and improve what has been done. However like you said we are on the same page because in the end its supporting learning processes - not controlling them....

      Wish you happy 702010 events and projects !

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Thomas,

      great Post!

      One question: "most of the learning came from really doing it and then reflecting on it" - what about doing more because it´s fun doing things? The aspect of Gamification will extremly rise in the near future even to attract people to involve themselve in doing &sharing - and not have the "usual 3-5%" active user (Forum, Social Media,...)

      "Sharing is Caring" so the more matured employees share the less others have to explore by themself and invent the wheel from scratch again.



      Author's profile photo Thomas Jenewein
      Thomas Jenewein
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Volker,

      sure Gamification - and related concepts like flow or immersion support the learning process. Think also gamification will be more around in the future - also as a reward or motivation. Next to the Gamification - which is often implemented as technical features - i think also learning culture and reward systems need to be changed if organizaitons want to have more real sharing of knowledge & experience. Otherwise people just do something technical to get points or badges without focusing on the fact that it also needs to add value. cheers Thomas

      Author's profile photo Chris Dwyer
      Chris Dwyer

      Nice post Thomas! I have presented on the same content a few times, and it tends to resonate well. If content is king, context is queen! The key is that learning is most effective in context, and no matter how good a context we create in a classroom it is not a real context. Whereas learning in every day life is in context. So learning providers (commercial or even internal L&D type resources) need to look at high learning can be delivered in context to maximise it's effectiveness.