Alastair Majury on Expertise Vs Experience
Most people will have heard about the 10,000 hour rule, which assuming a professional work week of 35 hours, and a 48 week working year (to take holidays, sickness, etc. into account), would mean that someone would become an “expert” after around 6 years in their chosen profession.
But does this hold true?
Not necessarily, research has shown that whilst the amount of practice is important, the type of practice is important. That is where possible if you want to improve yourself then you should partake in deliberate practice.
“Deliberate practice takes place outside one’s comfort zone and requires a student to constantly try things that are just beyond his or her current abilities.”
“Further thus it demands near-maximal effort, which is generally not enjoyable.”
So if you’re not actually stretching yourself outside of what you already can do, you’re probably not engaging in deliberate practice.
How does this apply to workplace? And determining who has expertise in their chosen career?
Well in my experience I have found that permanent members of staff tend to placed on projects that do not stretch them, and for challenging projects / pieces of works, companies tend to call in contractors. I appreciate that in other fields of work / industries that the opposite is true and permanent members of staff tend to be given more challenging pieces of work.
So if you require an expert to do a piece of work then take into consideration the potential resources background. Have they spent 6 years or more on challenging pieces of work or have they spent 6 or more years on doing steady work?
Have they been working in a challenging environment? Does their company have a good reputation for allowing staff to work in an environment that encourages a feeling of Psychological Safety or in an environment with a culture of discrimination?
Regardless of whether you are given challenging work to do or are kept in a “safe zone” you can still engage in deliberate practice in your chosen field by pursuing Continuous Professional Development, if possible use an accredited scheme to track and record your Continuous Professional Development / deliberate practice achievements.
I am lucky in that I have spent more than 6 years working on challenging work pieces of work, as well as pursuing Continuous Professional Development, so I believe that I could be called an expert in my chosen field of work.
However does that mean I am no longer engaging in deliberate practice or CPD?
No I am continuing to stretch myself and I am working towards an individual charter.
Across the world, and across industries, a personal Charter is recognised as a symbol of the peak of professionalism. Holding a Charter tells clients, colleagues and regulators that you have already demonstrated an outstanding commitment to achieving the highest levels of knowledge, skills and behaviour and that you are dedicated to maintaining this.
Attaining a Charter from the CISI, the UK’s leading securities and investment professional body, highlights that you are at the pinnacle of professionalism in financial services.
What are your thoughts on gaining expertise in a subject or engaging in Continuous Professional Development?
Please read my other recent articles.
Thanks for reading,
Alastair Majury resides locally in Dunblane, and is an IT Consultant working across the country. Alastair is also a volunteer officer at the local Boys’ Brigade company, a charity which focuses on enriching the lives of children and young people, and building a stronger community.