The 70:30 target

In his acclaimed book “The Accelerated Learning Handbook”, Dave Meier introduced the concept of “creation not consumption”. In order to adopt this philosophy it is clear that the role of the trainer was going to have to change from a front led, chalk and talk style to a more facilitative style.

As Kim Hare of Kaizen Training once said to me:

It is a fundamental shift from ‘Sage on the stage’ to ‘Guide on the side’

I think this sums it up rather well. It’s not so easy though when you have spent a good many years delivering training in the traditional style.

70-30-in-actionWhen Ally and I run train the trainer programmes some of our best discussions with participants are around how much time the ball is in the trainer’s court and how much time it is in the learner’s court.

The accepted wisdom seems to be around 70% in the learner’s court and about 30% in the trainer’s.

This will of course vary depending on a number of factors but as an average it seems about right.

This then leads to one of the biggest issues our learners seem to struggle with:

What to do with all that time?

Now that they have let go of being “the expert” and are allowing the learners to get on with their learning their way they are at a loss.

  • We see trainers getting involved with the work they have set sub-groups
  • We see trainers huddled together in little groups having a chat
  • We see trainers hovering just off to one side listening intently to a group’s conversation “just in case they aren’t getting the answers right.” (This does tend to freak the groups out a bit as they don’t know what the trainers are up to)

It’s not just newbies either.  I recently spotted a couple of very experienced facilitators using this golden time to prep for their next session.

So, what is this time for?  (Go on – shout the answer at your computer.  I’ll hear you ;-) )

This is state management and flow time!

Once we are clear that the learners understand what they are supposed to be doing, this is our opportunity to take a step back and gauge group state. Are they where they need to be for this section? Anyone not engaged? What options do you have if their state isn’t as it should be?

If everything is cool move onto to flow.

How can you stretch them even further? Asking individuals questions will help them to push themselves even further and increase their learning even more.

So, for those of you new to brain friendly learning, check out our posts The Ballet of State Management , Beyond Unconsciously Competent Pt.1 and Pt.2 – Keep In The Flow for some hints and tips on how to use these great techniques.

And for those more experienced facilitators out there – don’t forget what the 70 – 30 target is all about. (Clue – it’s not prep time for the next session!)

seed image by --Tico--
workshop image by Ally

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  1. Posted October 1, 2009 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    I like the tennis analogy, it’s a good reminder that even sage on the stage training can be about a good old conversation.

    In the old days, we used to obsess on TTT (or Trainer Talking Time) and play little games with ourselves to get it down to as close to zero as possible. I’ve even flirted with the ‘Silent Way’.

    The 70% time – in my view – should be about the imp and the honeybee. The imp whispers devilish little suggestions in people’s ears (what if…?). And the honeybee carries pieces of juicy pollen they’ve picked up from other flowers.

    Not read the above posts, so I’ll do that now and see if I got the answers right…

    • Posted October 1, 2009 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

      Love the imp and honeybee – a lot :)

      Reminded me about the “law of two feet” employed in ‘open space’ events, where the instruction is given at the start that if:

      if you are not learning or contributing, it is your duty to use your two feet and find somewhere that you will learn and contribute

      The idea is that you will become either a butterfly or a bee. The bee, buzzes from group to group cross pollinating ideas, whilst the butterfly hangs about being beautiful, attracting other people into quieter, more detailed conversations.


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