Talent ID & Management: The 10,000 hour “rule” and talent

01 Feb 2016 Posted by

Welcome back to my ongoing video series on talent ID and management.

Today is Part 4, but you can get up to speed with the previous instalments at the following links:

  1.  The strategic and tactical fundamentals of Talent – the budgeting decision
  2. Acceptable inefficiencies
  3. Ineffective tools and the unbearable uncertainty of the “bet”

Today I shift focus and take on one of the more widely debated issues around Talent ID, the 10,000 hour rule.

Three books popularised this notion that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert, and that success can’t happen without it.  The initial work was done on violinists, but it’s been applied to all manner of expertise, even though the vast majority of the work says that it does NOT take this long to become world class.

In fact, if we work off my strategic and tactical definition of Talent ID (a budgeting function that directs the allocation of scarce resources towards those with the greatest likelihood of success), then the 10,000 hour concept is actually detrimental, because it forces inefficient thinking on decision makers.  I’d go so far as to say that an athlete who requires 10,000 hours to become world-class is a drain on the system.

In the video below, I introduce you to the false dichotomy that was created between talent and training, and how these books falsely scorched the notion of talent in the name of encouraging people and offering them hope.  That’s never a bad thing, of course, but it became counter-productive, for reasons that I’ll explain as we proceed.

I also critique the original violin study, and offer up examples who disprove the rule, and share my thoughts on where the message got distorted (deliberately or otherwise).

Next time, I’ll take the logical step and show some examples and research of how elite athletes actually do become elite, and why the 10,000 rule is actually detrimental.


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