How many of you read Malcolm Gladwell‘s book “Outliers”? Me — too! What wasn’t clear when I read the book was that Gladwell himself doesn’t think you can become a top performer in any skill just by putting in ten-thousand hours.
In a recent interview from Freakonomics Radio, Gladwell goes more into depth on what he meant by the ten-thousand-hour rule when challenged by Frans Johansson, a professor at PrincetonUniversity and author of “The Click Moment”. His theory on deliberate practice challenges Gladwell on just putting in the time vs. forcing your body/brain to do something that doesn’t come naturally to you but by conducting deliberate practice, you will put your body into stressful situations that require focus and feedback.
I have seen this first-hand when deploying simulation based training. When you provide people with an opportunity to conduct deliberate practice when learning a new skill, it has to provide a focused and challenging learning environment for them. But you also need to provide ongoing feedback in order to give the employee a barometer as to whether they are learning this new skill in a way that will enhance their performance. Simply allowing them to blindly go through simulation after simulation without giving any form of feedback is a waste of time. So yes Practice can Make Perfect if done in a way that provide realistic scenarios, challenging and sometimes uncomfortable activities and ongoing feedback.