Archive | December, 2009

The 10,000 hour rule

22 Dec

A recent book by Malcolm Gladwell entitled Outliers has one fine idea that has been around for some time and most of the reviewers missed.  The 10,000-Hour Rule states that to be really excellent at any endeavor you need to spend 10,000 hours practicing to develop true competence.  10,000 hours is about “five person years” devoted to learning and refining.  Consider how long it takes to acquire 10,000 hours of practicing management.  Observation: successful people spend the time  – and work smart.  There is a very good discussion of this in wikipedia.

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The action – reflection cycle #2

8 Dec

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action”

– Peter Drucker

People are terrific learning machines. We process information from our environment and rapidly re-adjust our behavior.  The ability to do this is called intelligence.   Some call it adaptation.  Either way, it’s better to have rather more than rather fewer IQ points.

If you want to be an effective manager and grow toward being a leader you need to understand how to improve yourself and your best tool is your brain.

Much of our learning is by trial and error – a wonderfully telegraphic term. This process works well with less complex behaviors.  However more complex behaviors require more thought.  The key elements here are: some basic principles (in the case of managing), some tools (things you can do), a feedback system that is more complex than just the immediate environment and the ability to process the feedback in a larger context and develop a new strategy.  This last step is reflection and it requires that you look at yourself critically.  Interestingly, everyone I know who is very effective seems to be highly and privately self-analytic.

Socrates, a man who had a bad experience with hemlock said:  “Know Thyself.”

Peter Drucker has an outstanding article that can help lead you through this process.

He begins by posing several key questions:

  1. What are your strengths?
  2. How do you perform?
  3. Are you a reader or listener?
  4. How do you learn?
  5. And more…….

Each time I re-read the article I find yet another diamond to contemplate.

Check out the idea of “deep reading.”