Herding Racehorses and Racing Sheep

Dave Thomas has a great presentation (that he somehow seems to enjoy giving despite doubtless hundreds of sessions) on the progression of people from novice to expert.

Great subtitle quote: “People improvement trumps process improvement”

Mostly, this was an application of the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition?. As Dave so eloquently explains, the model tracks a progression from rule-based to context-based decision making. Put another way, as we gain experience, we replace recipes with intuition.

At least, most of us do. Dave referenced a great quote from Kevlin Henley: “20 years experience might be one year repeated 20 times.” His core advice: to remain competitive we must take interest in our work, and take the plunge from being directed to becoming self-driven. This distinction between the 2nd and 3rd stages (Advanced Beginner and Competent) is a barrier for many people, as crossing it requires taking responsibility for your own actions. It’s the difference between doing what you’ve been told and making your own decisions.

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