Monday, September 3, 2012

ReTHINK : theory of 10000 hours

In the quest of finding some material for my training, i stumbled into July-August 2007 issue of Harvard Business Review which contains an interesting article The Making of an Expert by Ericsson, Prietula and Cokely.
The article argues (on the basis of scholarly research since 1985) that outstanding or elite performance in any field is predominantly “the product of years of deliberate practice and coaching, not of any innate talent or skill.”
Experts (and elite performers) are made, not born: that elite performers in fields ranging from music to arts to mathematics to neurology could not be correlated with significant early indicators that could have predicted success – research has indicated that “there is no correlation between IQ and expert performance in chess, music, sports, and medicine.”
The key characteristics behind the development of “experts” (defined as outstanding leaders in their chosen fields of endeavour”) are
  1. deliberate practice
  2. outstanding coaching, feedback and mentorship
  3. A significant investment of effort over time (typically ten years or more)
Deliberate practice includes, focused, concentrated training, techniques of visualisation and scenario planning. It involves systematic efforts to practice and improve performance in any area of activity.
The key point with training and practice is not the length of time spent practising: it is the amount of quality focused practice and training undertaken on a regular basis. For example, the authors cite violinist Nathan Milstein. Milstein noticed other students around him practising all day, and asked his mentor how many hours a day he should be practising – to which the mentor replied “it doesn’t really matter how long. If you practice with your fingers, no amount is enough. If you practice with your head, two hours is plenty.” Milstein advises to “practice as much as you can with concentration.”
Practice also involves focused efforts to improve on weaknesses as well as to build on strengths.
The authors argue that “it takes time to become an expert” – typically “a minimum of ten years (or 10,000 hours) before they win international competitions.” The authors claim that in some fields it is longer: for classical musical performance, it can be 15 to 25 years.
This result is by research studying successes from the Beatles to Nobel Prize winners, identifying that typically even “overnight sensations” have a solid ten years behind them during which they acquired skills, developed familiarity and relationships in their professional domain, and generally built the capabilities and relationship infrastructure to position themselves for success.

Harvard Business Review on Making an Expert