Accelerating Executive Expertise

Accelerating Executive Expertise >>

Are you an entrepreneur, executive, investor or other professional always striving to be the very best at what you do? This Series deep-dives into the metagame of mental models and mastery. How can you accelerate the rate at which you develop in business, leadership and life? How can you get better, faster?

I kick off by going deep on:

  • Why mental models are the building blocks of human cognition, and how accelerating the rate at which you continually update, synthesise and advance your existing models and develop new ones is the key to workplace mastery in a complex world.
  • How simplification works well in our earlier stages of learning, but at later stages marinating in the true complexity of a situation is what develops the ‘adaptive capacity’ required to master it.
  • The 9 common factors that any individual needs to be working on in order to achieve mastery. If you are not working on all of these, you are delaying your journey towards mastery, including: Motivation, Time on the job, Continuous Learning, Reflective Practice, Deliberate Practice, Feedback, Coaching, Mentoring, and Inner Work.

I draw on three main influences that fascinate me:

  1. Mastery – whatever your chosen pursuit, what does it mean to truly master it? What does it mean to be the very best?
  2. Business & Leadership – as an executive coach who works with some of the best in the game, how can we integrate the art and science of expertise and mastery into business and leadership?
  3. Complexity – How can we go beyond the hype of buzzwords like adaptability and agility to understand what it means to truly achieve executive mastery in an increasingly complex world? How can the study of Complex Adaptive Systems help us understand the journey towards mastery?

The Series isn’t a ‘learn-it-all’ about the knowledge and skills required of an effective executive, which the existing literature has well covered. Whilst we can and should always learn more, it assumes a certain level of core knowledge and experience. It also isn’t just about how to get better over time. Hard work, dedication and compounding habits can help you do that but not necessarily to the level of mastery.

Ready to accelerate your executive expertise? Dive in

The Mental Models Paradox >>

People have become obsessed with what mental models they can use to make them smarter. If we take these mental models and conceptual frameworks and run our reality through them, then we’ll become better thinkers and make better decisions. Or will we?

This precursor to the series explores the paradox: good mental models, and other conceptual frameworks, make us smarter but only up to a point, after which they can actually constrain our thinking.

Make sure your mental models are building blocks to higher wisdom, not brick walls constraining your thinking.

Mental Models & Mastery: Forging a Theory >>

Part 1 explores the foundations of learning and our construction of knowledge:

  • How mental models form the basis of cognition, and how we construct increasingly sophisticated mental models over time.
  • How we move from acquiring the explicit knowledge that characterises our earlier work careers – teachable, learnable, conceptual facts which form the basis of our mental models – to tacit knowledge, that which is hard to express, extract, formalise or codify (including personal wisdom, experience, insight, and intuition).
  • Learn about Cognitive Flexibility Theory and Cognitive Transformation Theory, which underpin your journey to mastery.

Mental Models & Mastery: 9 ways to Accelerate your Executive Expertise >>

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Good habits executed incrementally over time lead to compounded personal and professional growth. But what if time isn’t on your side. What if you want to get better, faster?

Part 2 will identify the common factors that you need to be actively working on if you want to develop adaptive capacity and speed up your journey to becoming a more effective executive, including: Motivation, Time on the job, Continuous learning, Deliberate Practice, Reflective Practice, Feedback, Coaching, Mentoring and Inner Work.

What else to expect from this Series

Im already researching questions like:

  • What does mastery looks like beyond just technical expertise? In the context of business, what is the difference between technical and adaptive leadership? How does that influence your journey to executive mastery?
  • Why it’s so important to understand your operating environment, because context changes everything. I’ll explore categorisations for different environments, be they well-structured or ill-structured, kind or wicked, complicated or complex (the Cynefin framework), Type 1 or Type 2.
  • How does mastery differ across these different environments and disciplines? For example, sport and business, and why comparing CEOs to elite athletes is an over-simplification.
  • Why deliberate practice falls short when it comes to mastering complex environments. What forms of deliberate practice might be better suited to mastering complexity? Might encouraging ‘heat moments’ be better instead?
  • Mastery can be defined the desire to get better at what we do – to achieve a high level of proficiency in a particular area. But what does holistic mastery look like? What does it mean to attain mastery in the context of living a Good Life?

Thank you to Cedric Chin, who inspired this work by introducing me to the book Accelerated Expertise: Training for High Proficiency in a Complex World which sent me even further down the rabbit hole of mastery. Cedric has done much more work on this subject than I, and I encourage you to read it all. I’ll link to it throughout.