Interlude: The "10,000-hours-to-be-an-expert" rule ~ Sounds + Food 'n' Retail

Malcolm Gladwell.jpgHBR writes about this rule, and Malcolm Gladwell (picture) speaks about it. Essentially, it means that being an expert at anything does not require any special talent (though liking what you do, helps), but instead it requires 10,000 hours of dedicated practice. This applies just as much to musicians, as to technologists, as to retail-entrepreneurs.

Take Candy Dufler, whom I wrote about the other day. She's been playing saxophone since I don't know when, but the hit "Lily was here" is approximately 20 years old. And if you calculate that 10 hours per week of practice, multiplied by 20 years, equals 10,000 hours, and combine that with Dave Stewart's compliment on her "encyclopaedic knowledge of riffs," you understand that she's an expert in her craft.

The point about all this is that anything can be mastered with sufficient practice. Malcolm Gladwell adds to this that this practice is not a solitary activity either, nor is it a matter of simple repetition. Rather it is imperative that it is guided by other experts and mentors, much like Dave Stewart is to Candy Dufler. And it has to push the boundaries, entering areas where the comfort-zone is low.

I think about this 10,000 hour principle a lot. It is very relevant to blogging, for instance. We, the people, are surrounded by experts, be it writers for the Financial Times or Harvard Business Review, or bloggers like Nick Carr, Seth Godin, and countless others. And we reproduce their writing to form a synthesis of it, eventually building a collaborate bucket of knowledge. This is why blogging is great, because it is open, it is curious, and, on the aggregate, self-correcting. But to individuals, it is only beneficial if part of a long-term strategy of dedicated learning and application.

The "Rule" also offers insights into hiring people and finding jobs. If your future employee is not happy (or able) to share his or her know-how, then how can your other employees (or yourself) increase their expertise? And if your job consists of spending countless hours behind an excel-sheet, locked away in a room, then may I suggest that that is what they call dead-end? Alternatively, if you can find someone who can actually present proof that they have 10,000 hours of applied practice behind them (or even half that!), you can feel pretty good about hiring them, and vice versa, they can feel pretty confident that they can add value to the area which they have practised for.

Ultimately, this kind of thinking suggests that we can only improve, and indeed innovate, as people, businesses, or products, by opening up to a ton of information, for a long-long-long time, perhaps forever. In other words, long live the open economy, the tools that connect us, and the computer that is our brain.


Copyright 2006| Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly modified and converted to Blogger Beta by Blogcrowds.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.