Practice and Persistence

Developing mastery of new future of work practices is essential to individuals being able to leverage the networked economy and also organisations ability to adapt to become Responsive Organisations. However, new practices don’t develop overnight they take persistent repetition and gradual mastery.

Your way to Carnegie Hall

There is an old joke that an out-of-town violinist is walking through New York and stops a passerby to ask for directions to Carnegie Hall, the site of many famous concerts and recitals. The answer from a wiser old New Yorker is “Practice. Practice. Practice”

We have a current example of this insight in the hacker quest to demonstrate you can become an expert in a year through consistent practice.  For example, this man’s effort to reach the top table tennis players in the UK.

The key points here are that:

  • the practice is voluntary
  • the practice persists
  • the practice develops in mastery with a determined intent on improvement 
  • the challenge of the practice raises over time

Allow Time. Design for Flow.

In our rush to implement new practices in organisations, we can miss these characteristics of growing mastery. We choose target state behaviours. We impose them transactionally through short change management programs. We are often disappointed by the results.  Not surprisingly they rarely develop into consistent practice, let alone mastery. Alien behaviours can take time to make sense, to practice with confidence and to learn new capabilities required.

The ideal programs to the introduction of new behaviours leverage the concept of Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Individuals need to be presented with purposeful activities where the challenge raises over time as their practice grows in capability.  Keeping the developing practice in the zone of flow provides personal rewards to sustain the development of mastery.

The development of individual practice in this way may not fit within our traditional management timeframes.  This is not a 90 day challenge. Developing new mindsets and behaviours will occur on a human timescale.

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