Tag Archives: deliberate practice

Deliberate Practice for Managers.

deliberate practice for managers
Today I am revisiting my very first post here on The Management Maven: Deliberate Practice for Managers.  I circle back to this topic often because I feel it is so important: 

Management, like any skill, needs to be practiced in order to achieve mastery

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Ever wonder what separates Tiger Woods from the average golfer?  Or Jimi Hendrix from the guy in your neighbor’s garage band?  Behold, the power of deliberate practice.  The basic idea is that star performers in music, sports or other fields are not born great; they rarely have some innate mental or physical advantage that average performers do not.  Their achievements are actually the result of hours upon hours of very targeted effort.  Skills are broken down into discrete blocks and those blocks are practiced regularly and with increasing intensity.  The performer seeks feedback and results are diligently recorded, tracked and analyzed for improvement.

How do we use this idea to improve our performance as managers?

Identify a single competency and focus on improving in that area until we achieve mastery.  Unlike perfecting a golf swing or a guitar riff, management may seem too complex to lend itself to task repetition.  But there are core skills, such as presenting information or facilitating a meeting, that can be honed until they become second nature.

Be careful observers of ourselves and others.  As we encounter management challenges, we can reflect on them in an analytical way.  “How did that interaction go?  What did I do well?  What could I have handled differently?”  We can record these observations and use them to gauge our progress over time.

Similarly, is there a peer or superior who is strong in a key management area?  Watch and record what makes them successful.  Reflect on it, analyze it, and try to bring those skills to your own work.  Perhaps that person can be enlisted as a personal mentor or coach.

Utilize “what-if” scenarios to analyze how we would handle challenging management situations.  Business schools often use case studies to help students solve real-world problems.  Using this approach in our management practice allows us to hone best-practices and refine our management philosophy.

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How about you?  How would you apply deliberate practice to management?

 

You might also like:

Notes To Self: Tracking Your Deliberate Practice

 

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Read This Book: The Back of the Napkin

“There is no more powerful way to prove that we know something well than to draw a simple picture of it.  And there is no more powerful way to see hidden solutions than to pick up a pen and draw out the pieces of our problem.”                           – Dan Roam

 

 

Approaching complex problems in new ways is an important element of deliberate practice for managers.   In The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures, Dan Roam explores how we can work through complex business ideas with visual tools.  This entertaining manual explains visual thinking, ways of seeing and how to focus our ideas.

 

This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.

 

Daydreaming: Find your superheroes.

What if…one person in your organization has a new product idea that will revolutionize your industry?  But you don’t know who they are.  And they don’t know what they have.  How do you find this person and capitalize on their idea?

What if” scenarios encourage you to think creatively about management challenges. Change your perspective. Use your imagination. See what happens.

 

Daydreaming: Size matters.

What if…your organization doubled its current square footage?  (office space, manufacturing floor, whatever)  What do you do with the space?

Now cut your current space in half.  How do you adapt?

What if” scenarios encourage you to think creatively about management challenges.  Change your perspective.  Use your imagination.  See what happens.

Notes To Self: Tracking Your Deliberate Practice

tracking your deliberate practice

A deliberate approach to improving your management skills requires analysis and reflection. It’s important to record what and how you practice, the results of new tools or techniques, and your daily management observations.

In Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg describes how William Carlos Williams, a pediatrician and poet, often wrote on prescription pads between patient visits. As a result, his works contain many prescription-pad-sized poems. I’m reminded of this story whenever I start a fresh notebook. “Our tools affect the way we form our thoughts.”

How you record your practice is a personal choice but I recommend experimenting with different formats. If your day is spent in front of a keyboard, using pen and paper for your management observations may offer fresh inspiration. If your workspace is covered in post-it notes, transferring those thoughts to a Word document or electronic journal may help you see themes and patterns. Blogging your practice can also be productive, as it forces you to organize your thoughts for others to read.

If you struggle with remembering to record your practice, iDoneThis offers a free service that I’ve found useful. They send you a reminder email at the end of each day and you simply reply with what you’ve accomplished. Your responses are automatically saved to your personal calendar for later review. To make this tool most effective, combine it with a scheduled block of time to reflect on your daily “dones” and draft a plan for integrating what worked into your management toolkit.

 

(Hat tip to Dan Pink for recommending iDoneThis.)

 

This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.

 

Deliberate Practice for Managers

practiceEver wonder what separates Tiger Woods from the average golfer?  Or Jimi Hendrix from the guy in your neighbor’s garage band?  Behold, the power of deliberate practice.

The basic idea is that star performers in music, sports or other fields are not born great; they rarely have some innate mental or physical advantage that average performers do not.  Their achievements are actually the result of hours upon hours of very targeted effort.  Skills are broken down into discrete blocks and those blocks are practiced regularly and with increasing intensity.  The performer seeks feedback and results are diligently recorded, tracked and analyzed for improvement.

So how do we use this idea to improve our performance as managers?

First, we can identify a single competency and focus on improving in that area until we achieve mastery.  Unlike perfecting a golf swing or a guitar riff, management may seem too complex to lend itself to task repetition.  But there are core skills, such as presenting information or facilitating a meeting, that can be honed until they become second nature.

In addition, we can be careful observers of ourselves and others.  As we encounter management challenges, we can reflect on them in an analytical way.  “How did that interaction go?  What did I do well?  What could I have handled differently?”  We can record these observations and use them to gauge our progress over time.

Similarly, we can observe others.  Is there a peer or superior who is strong in a key management area?  Watch and record what makes them successful.  Reflect on it, analyze it, and try to bring those skills to your own work.  Perhaps that person can be enlisted as a personal mentor or coach.

Finally, we can utilize “what-if” scenarios to analyze how we would handle challenging management situations.  Business schools often use case studies to help students solve real-world problems.  Using this approach in our management practice allows us to hone best-practices and refine our management philosophy.

Recommended Reading:

 

This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.