March 31, 2008

Anything is an improvable skill

An interesting article by Geoffrey Colvin translates the concept of deliberate practice to the situation of business. Briefly, the term deliberate practice refers to the work by Anders Ericsson and his colleagues on how to achieve greatness in a field. These researchers have found that the best performers in any field are those who devote the most hours to deliberate practice. Deliberate practice means that you not mindlessly keep on repeating the activity you want to master, but instead, that you 1) Setting specific goals each time you perform the activity, 2) Actively obtain immediate feedback on your performance, and 3) Concentrate as much on technique as on outcome. Examples that are usually mentioned in articles are from fields like piano playing, chess, golf, etc. The interesting thing about the article by Colvin is that he explains how the principle of deliberate practice is relevant for business. This is what he has to say:
Many elements of business, in fact, are directly practicable. Presenting, negotiating, delivering evaluations, deciphering financial statements - you can practice them all. Still, they aren't the essence of great managerial performance. That requires making judgments and decisions with imperfect information in an uncertain environment, interacting with people, seeking information - can you practice those things too? You can, though not in the way you would practice a Chopin etude. Instead, it's all about how you do what you're already doing - you create the practice in your work, which requires a few critical changes. the first is going at any task with a new goal: instead of merely trying to get it done, you aim to get better at it. [..] Anything that anyone does at work, from the most basic task to the most exalted, is an improvable skill. [..] Armed with that mindset, people go at a job in a new way. Research shows they process information more deeply and retain it longer. They want more information on what they're doing and seek other perspectives. They adopt a longer-term point of view. [...] You aren't just doing the job, you're explicitly trying to get better at it the larger sense.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner