Achieving 100% Percent of the 70-20-10 Leadership Development Model using Business Simulations

Post by Capsim
June 1, 2016

The 70 20 10 Leadership Development Model is commonly used within the training profession to describe the optimal sources of learning. It holds that individuals obtain 70 percent of their knowledge from job-related experiences, 20 percent from interactions with others, and 10 percent from formal educational events.

Working at an organization that develops business simulation based training experiences, I have my own take on the 70 20 10 Leadership Development Model. In fact, I would argue that a simulation based experience can provide the full 100%, if done properly.

Let’s start by taking a look at the 70 percent.

The 70 20 10 Leadership Development Model holds that hands-on experience, or the 70 percent, is the most beneficial because it enables people to refine their job-related skills, make decisions, and address challenges. They also learn from their mistakes and receive immediate feedback on their performance. While I understand the word simulation itself means not a real environment, it is as close to on the job learning as one can get. Think about if you would want managers or leaders running your business with nothing but some book knowledge. Using a business simulation allows the opportunity to make all the real decisions that managers of all levels make, but in a safe environment. A realistic simulation that can mock how all decisions have an impact on other departments and on the company’s bottom line, as well as one that takes into account outside factors like competition that affect business results is a great place to learn by doing, just like one would in on the job learning, without the risk of mistakes being costly to the organization. Using a simulation allows for mistakes to be made so participants can learn from theirs and others mistakes, it can be quite an eye opening experience.

Taking this one step further, if the simulation is based on a realistic business environment and discussion is encouraged as to how this relates to the everyday world-it holds relevancy to the adult learner. Which we know from Knowles theory of adult learning is a key driver to learning transfer and engagement.

Now let’s look at the 20 percent.

Learning from others through a variety of activities that include social learning, coaching, mentoring, collaborative learning and other methods of interaction with peers. If a simulation experience is to be most effective, it should be done in teams or groups. Mixed backgrounds for the groups is most beneficial as I have observed time and time again how participants naturally mentor one another, learn from one another, and coach one another to succeed as a group.

Finally, let’s look at the 10 percent.

The 70 20 10 Leadership Development Model states that 10 percent of professional development optimally comes from formal traditional course-ware instruction and other educational events. When conducting a simulation experience, it is best done in a classroom setting. During the session it is key to stop between decisions points and discuss results and why the results happen. Going further this classroom discussion time allows once again for points of relevancy to be brought up as well as time for reflection near the need of the session to discuss how learners might transfer this experience to their everyday role.

70 20 10 Leadership Development Model using business simulations

There are those that don’t fully agree with the 70 20 10 Leadership Development Model. One argument I have heard is that the model’s specific ratios do not reflect current learning opportunities. It does however remain generally consistent with the developmental experiences of many individuals. Thus, the model continues to serve as a valuable guideline on how to employ various developmental experiences. I strongly believe in the model and am fully convinced that the model can be used in not such a literal way as stated above by replacing on the job-with simulation events.  I believe this model because I have seen it work time and time again, all the way through to the gold standard of learning evaluations…level four.

Joe LiVigni is the Director of Training & Development at Capsim Management Simulations. I work daily to design and deliver engaging simulation and assessment based experiences for organizations. These experiences meet a variety of objectives and change the way participants look at their role, thereby affecting business outcomes at their organization.

Capsim's 2016 Leadership Excellence Award for Best Use of Simulations

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