I’ve been reviewing an old PowerPoint slide deck I have from Andy Hunt’s “Refactoring Your Wetware” talk. One of the slides covers the Dreyfus Model of Skill Aquisition, something that Andy and Dave Thomas also discuss in their “Herding Racehorses, Racing Sheep” talk (which you can see when the No Fluff, Just Stuff conference comes to your town, by the way).
The whole concept is just fascinating to me. The model is made up of several “layers” or levels of proficiency in a given skill:
- Advanced Beginner
Each level represents a different pattern of behavior, a different way of thinking. A learner will perceive the world differently at each level. For example, at the “Beginner” level, the learner is preoccupied not necessarily with learning something, but with simply accomplishing a task. Compare that to an “Expect” learner, who relies on intuition, not reason, to accomplish his goals.
Forcing an expert to fit into a rules-based structure designed for a beginner ultimately makes the expert less productive and even downright miserable. On the flip side, placing a beginner in the intuitive environment that an expert thrives in can render the beginner incapable of doing anything. Yet both of these actions occur continually in the corporate world. Why is that?