The 70:20:10 (Experience, Exposure, Education) Framework is focused on learning at work, not in a classroom, and not in a lab. Charles Jennings has described workplace learning as based on four key activities:
- Exposure to new and rich experiences.
- The opportunity to practice.
- Engaging in conversation and exchanges with each other.
- Making time to reflect on new observations, information, experiences, etc.
Studies show that informal learning accounts for between 70 and 95% of workplace learning [USBLS: 70%; Raybould: 95%; EDC: 70%; CapitalWorks: 75%; OISE: 70%; eLG: 70%; Allen Tough: 80%]. Gary Wise extrapolated Josh Bersin’s data from 2009 and found that as much as 95% of workplace learning is informal. Offering only sanctioned courses as professional development is completely inadequate in a complex work environment. It is arrogant to think that we can know in advance what people need to learn on the job today. Everyone needs to experiment, learn from experience, and share with colleagues, as part of their work.
PKM is a framework to make sense of the 70%. It helps connect our experiences. It is also a very inexpensive way to promote learning and development. Perhaps that is why PKM and similar practices are not the norm in many workplaces. Nobody will get a big budget to manage them. PKM is personally managed. People just need time, space, some coaching, and organizational support. Tools help, but there are a lot of inexpensive ones available. But quite often the only tools available at work are at cross-purposes with PKM. They are not personal and they do not help people to seek > sense > share.
Smaller companies and young companies appear to be quite open to PKM-like practices. It may just be a matter of time before they become the norm. Most free-agents understand the importance of taking control of their professional development. For the employed, the realization often comes on news of unemployment. People quickly see that their professional network is primarily business contacts from their previous company. Cast aside, they have no support network. Building one takes time.
The foundation of PKM (seek) is participating in professional knowledge networks. From these social networks, one can find the right crew for more focused journeys of sense-making. This is 21st century networking, not the stuff of cocktail parties and passing out business cards of the previous half-century. Creating a diverse network of loose and strong ties takes time. Nurturing these connections takes more time. Part of the 70% of workplace learning should be focused on connecting with others, inside and outside the organization. How much time do you spend? How much time would your organization let you spend? If you are in a position of authority, how much time do you let others spend on participating in professional knowledge networks?
Getting started with PKM is probably the cheapest professional development program that any company can initiate. It requires no special technology or proprietary system. My own objective in promoting PKM is not to sell it, or even teach others how to do it. My objective is to enable people to learn and teach it for themselves. If I can guide people to take the first step, then that is usually all it takes. PKM in 40 Days is one way I try to provide a starting point. I will work on other ways in the coming year.
Jay Cross likened informal learning to riding a bicycle. Maybe that’s a good way to look at PKM. It’s a bike to get out and explore all those paths and places you do not find on the main motorways.