25 February 2013

South Africa: Malcolm Gladwell Says I'm As Good As Tiger Woods


In his book 'Outliers', Malcolm Gladwell states that you need to have completed 10,000 hours of your chosen profession to reach a level of mastery; to be better than everyone else; to be an outlier. If you've been in your job more than 10 years, you're probably one too. So don't sell yourself short - whether client service, creative or planner, if you've done 10,000 hours you're a pro.

What's 10,000 hours? Well, assuming you work 8 hours a day (5 of them you actually work), that gives you 80 hours per month. That's 960 hours a year. Let's round that off to 1,000, and if you've practiced your craft for 10 years, you're an outlier.

However, the hours are only part of it. Tiger Woods put in practice that continually improved his game. Doing the same thing over and over again breeds consistency, not necessarily improvement. Bill Gates programmed, and learned more and more as he went along. Same with violin prodigies - they practise to improve. As each strategic brief is different, I'd like to think I'm continuously improving too.

A piece of advice

So, rather than waffle on and on about how you should focus on 'continual improvement' (an actual buzzword in management science), here's one piece of advice that will help you on your way: "Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement". So when you look back down the road, it's normal to see a wreck or two. But, not to sell you short, here's three things that might result in less accidents:

1. The Toyota Production System is known for Kaizen (roughly translated means 'good change'). All line personnel are expected to stop their moving production line in case of any abnormality. The desired result is a Kaizen - good change. So, when you see (or even feel) something's wrong - stop. Just for a minute. See what's wrong. Apply the fix. Resume. Kaizen.

2. Spend most of your time identifying and then articulating the problem. It's amazing the clarity of solutions that emerge when the clarity of the problem is exposed. There are 100 ways to solve the same problem. There are no ways to solve the wrong problem.

3. Unfortunately we can't live life backwards; only forwards. That means everything is a risk. Michael Jordan says, "I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying".

There are many things I wish I had not done, but without them, I would not have done the things I should.

I'm not sure I could beat Tiger Woods at golf, but then I'm not sure he'd do a strategy on par with mine.

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