Practice does not make perfect

The issue with practice

There is a misunderstanding based on research conducted into effectiveness that you need 10,000 hours of practice, feedback and coaching to become really outstandingly good at something. This was popularised by Malcom Shadwell in his 2011 book Outliers- The story of success. The truth is that “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” This is a quote from Vince Lombardi, one of the best know and respected American Football coaches.

There is a lot to be said for this perspective. Those of us play sports to any reasonably good level know that frequent practice is important. But we have all had situations where little mistakes slip into our routines or techniques. Sooner or later these minor deviations become major problems. Sometimes they can even cause major physical damage. What this illustrates is that it is not just the quantity of practice that matters but also the quality of the practice.

I also want to add that I am a strong believer in “Perfect is the enemy of good”. References here to “perfect” should be read in the sense of “continuously improving, even at the highest levels of skill and competence”.

What is needed

To make sure that we practice the right things we need two essentials:

  1. A template or example of what is right or better, and
  2. Someone who can take a look at what we do and who has the necessary skills to identify what we do and to communicate suggestions in a constructive way.

In terms of fee negotiation and other fee enhancement activities there are many good templates and examples on how to price, negotiate or value manage well. High Impact Fee Negotiation and Management for Professionals is all about good practice in these areas.

Getting someone who knows what good pricing, fee negotiation or fee management looks like and who can demonstrate what you and how you can do it better is more challenging. You need to find someone who is both a good practitioner as well as a coach and/ or trainer. These coach/ trainers also have to understand the dynamics of professional service firms.

It is worth making the effort to find the right coach/ trainer in this area. There are not many of us who truly understand professional service firms. Those that do can make a significant contribution to a firm’s bottom line.


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