The Role of Informal Learning in Leadership Development and Competency Building. Beyond Blended Learning and the 70-20-10 Rule in the Context of Competency-Based Assessments and Evaluations

©2016 Textbook 26 Pages


This paper analyzes the concept of Blended Learning and the 70-20-10 rule, and relates it to the subject matter of competency-based assessment and evaluation within the field of training and development. Having an in-depth understanding on Blended Learning is crucial as a foundation for developing and implementing appropriate assessment methodologies that effectively measures corresponding cognitive outcomes, skill-based outcomes, affective outcomes, results and return on investments, of which evidence collection can be pegged to the appropriate methods/techniques within the Blended Learning Framework adopted by the organization.


Table Of Contents

informal learning methods/techniques. Personal and group projects is an
informal learning technique within this framework, and in applying the
70-20-10 rule, this technique alone accounts for 70% of the learning that
takes place in competency building and leadership development. Thus the
author coined a new maxim - "To foster learning, emphasize doing" - in
the context of leadership development in the leadership pipeline. This
maxim essentially suggests that organizations should place an emphasis
on the "doing" in their leadership development should they want to
encourage greater learning to take place and produce more holistically
developed leaders. This paper thus attempts to encourage and aid
organizations in implementing "learning by doing", which would
complement their current formal competency development curriculum
and assessment programmes, for a more effective leadership development
To do so, the report seeks firstly to identify, explain and compare the two
main ways of learning (i.e. formal and informal learning) in relative depth,
so as to argue for the business case of the maxim. Subsequently, some
reasons for organizations to resist emphasizing on the "doing" will be
uncovered, while promptly offering solutions to dissolve such resistance.
Following which, guidelines and recommendations would be provided to
assist organizations in practically implementing informal learning for a
more effective leadership development program.

Learning is the fundamental driver of leadership development and is
conventionally defined as "the combination of knowledge, skills and
values that allows individuals to have the insight and motivation to
transcend their current understanding of themselves in relation to the
wider world"
. There are typically two main ways through which one
may learn: formal learning (i.e. classroom-based learning) and informal
learning (i.e. learning by "doing").
One way in which people learn is through formal learning. This method
of learning tends to be structured in curriculum and typically follows a
classroom-style of teaching by an expert within a set time frame
. An
example would be leadership-training workshops. On the other hand,
informal learning, which is the form of learning that the maxim is arguing
for, is an unstructured and natural process of absorbing skills, seeking
knowledge, and understanding from our environment and the things
around us
. It is commonly termed as "learning by doing" as it allows
employees to learn through experiences driven by their learning and
development needs
. Employees engaged in informal learning experience
the action first hand and are immersed in situations that demand their
engagement. An example would be the secondment of a manager to
another department.
Informal learning has received increasing acceptance in organizations and
many adopt different standpoints for and against informal learning as the
effective way of fostering learning. Some argue that formal learning is
better because of its clear and explicit objective regarding the knowledge,
skills and competencies that are to be gained through the programs
. The

structured curriculum of formal learning also allows for lessons to be
taught time-effectively, which is especially beneficial for those who need
urgent equipping. For example, leaders who need a crash course about the
basic principles of visioneering during a sudden handover.
Having said that, there are others who highlight the many limitations of
such formal methods of learning, purporting that formal learning stifles
the curiosity of the leaders-in-training, turning them into "blank sheets"
for the experts conducting the leadership training to write on. Because
everyone grew up learning the "harder things of life" ­ such as learning
to walk - outside of the classroom setting and through exploring and
doing, it is inferred that when it comes to leadership skills, the approach
to learning should not differ much as well
. In addition, real life
challenges of leadership are often more complex than the lessons taught
in formal classes. On top of that, these lessons may not be completely
aligned to the culture and conditions of their workplace. For example,
leaders learning about taking calculated risks are unable to apply what
they learnt if there is a strong culture of conservatism at the workplace.
Furthermore, formal learning is reported to account for only 20% of
learning that takes place
and for only 25% of what is applied in jobs
This implies that the bulk of learning is derived from another means,
which the maxim proposes to be informal learning.
This paper argues that informal learning is especially effective with
regard to leadership development. Reason being, leadership competencies
goes beyond style and techniques of management that are conventionally
taught in formal leadership workshops. Instead, leadership development
extends to cover core competencies such as vision, empathy, insight and

consistency, all of which are only fully grasped in the leadership class
conducted in the world
. Sadly, although these competencies are crucial
to both personal and organizational success, it is, paradoxically, the least
controllable and understood element in the fields of competency
development and assessment.

The Maxim ­ "To Foster Learning, Emphasize Doing"
Therefore, the maxim - "To foster learning, emphasize doing" ­
confidently purports that the way to generate learning is through an
immersion into job-relevant experiences and be in environments that
allow for one to be engaged. This implies that informal learning generates
more learning than a classroom-based formal learning method could
Though the limitations of formal learning are clear, this standpoint
proposed by the maxim is still very much counter-intuitive because it
contradicts conventional perceptions of learning and assessment, where
learning is deemed synonymous to formal methods of teaching such as
. This conventional perception argues that for learning to be
done, it must be through formal institutions like schools, where one
receives knowledge from experts.
However, the maxim argues against it and suggests that the bulk of
learning takes place outside the confines of a structured curriculum, one
where knowledge is not received but generated through one's first hand
experience at "doing". This therefore makes it hard to grasp because it
may seem ineffective to do something without learning. Furthermore,
much of these informal learning takes place unnoticed (and therefore un-
assessed) because these "lessons" often appear as merely a part of life,
which makes it difficult for many to perceive these to be authentic
learning and assessment methods. These reasons make the informal
learning even more counter-intuitive.

Business Case for the Maxim, "To Foster Learning, Emphasize Doing"
Apart from being counter-intuitive in principle, the maxim does have
much value to the organization that subscribes to it. The emphasis on
informal learning is in itself a long-term strategy of organizational
sustainability in a rapidly changing business environment
. Reason being,
informal learning has the capacity to narrow leaders' existing learning
gap between what they know and the demands of the workplace by
immersing leaders in situations relevant to what they face at work and
expecting them to solve problems and maneuver their way through it.
This does many things to the leader-in-training. First, it equips and
empowers leaders to be more confident as they are better equipped with
relevant information, skills and competencies
to perform their best. The
confidence is heightened when the experience and situations are similar
to the environment of their workplace, thereby ensuring a greater transfer
of their learning. Consequently, this would lead to an improvement in
their work satisfaction, and motivation for job performance, all of which
would facilitate an increase in productivity; and that could lead to
maximized profits.
Secondly, leaders-in-training have their perspective broadened because
the lessons learnt through experience give them a better perspective of
themselves and the world around. These leaders tend to retain a curious
mind and are more inclined to adopt an active approach when problem
solving because they have been accustomed to being in action and are not
waiting to be spoon-fed with solutions. These strengthen the core of an
organization by making its leaders inquisitive thinkers who are unafraid
of challenges. And where the leadership is strong, so will the entire

company. Thus, there is an overall benefit to the company by simply
emphasizing on informal learning when developing leaders.


Type of Edition
File size
1.8 MB
Institution / College
Aventis School of Management
Publication date
2016 (July)
Human Resource Competency Assessments Evaluations Competency-Based Assessments and Evaluations Training Learning Development Training and Development Learning and Development Organizational Development Blended Learning Formal Learning Informal Learning 70-20-10 Rule Business Corporate Training Leadership Development Competency Building

Title: The Role of Informal Learning in Leadership Development and Competency Building. Beyond Blended Learning and the 70-20-10 Rule in the Context of Competency-Based Assessments and Evaluations
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
26 pages