Deliberate practice in software development

What is Deliberate Practice (DP)?

Deliberate practice is common phenomenon in sports, arts and other industries. Athletes have a dedicated time each and every single working day for deliberate practice. It is same with musicians, actors, painters, singers, dancers. Actors dedicate some time perfecting dialogue delivery by deliberately practicing it for hours and hours. Singers tries to perfect their pitch by intentionally focusing only on a particular pitch while practicing. Dancers and sportsman and sportswoman practices a single move over and over and over again until it becomes natural as part of their natural reflection. Deliberate practice is nothing but an intentional practice. A time slot dedicated to focus on only one core unit of your craft and perfecting it until you understand and have knowledge of all possible aspect of the component that you are trying learn and practice. Anders Ericsson, the psychology professor quoted above, coined the term deliberate practice (DP) to describe this special type of work. If you read Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers , you probably have an answer: the 10,000 hour rule. This concept, which was first introduced in academic circles in the early 1970s, was popularized by Gladwell in his 2008 book. To summarize in Anders Ericsson’s words

[A]ctivities designed, typically by a teacher, for the sole purpose of effectively improving specific aspects of an individual’s performance.

What is not Deliberate Practice?

Reading a book, watching tutorial videos, going through online courses or reading blogs are not part of “Deliberate Practice”. These are the resources for knowledge so as a knowledge worker, you definitely should be doing combination of things mentioned in a previous line to gain new knowledge, a new perspective or to clear your existing false assumptions, but, they do not account towards your 10,000 Hour rule. However, coding exercises, preparing notes by hand, trying to solve the same problem in many different ways, or, trying to solve many different problems from the same concept, all of this can account for deliberately practiced hours since all of these activities engages your brain in many ways and doing these over and over again will help you grasp the acquired knowledge in a long-term memory.


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