I recently came across two articles on the same day. One was about the history of Rescue Annie – the training mannequin used for teaching cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

The other was about how attorneys use mock and moot court to test legal theories. The practice of using simulations to prepare people for real working conditions is not new. Nor is it especially revolutionary.

For over 50 years the model UN has sponsored academic simulations for students all over the world. These simulations have people taking on the role of diplomats for the purpose of debate deliberation and discussions of critical issues based on actual international current events.

The army uses war games to prepare troops for the look and feel of live fire. Even seminary students ‘practice’ hearing confession.

What perplexes me is that Business has not yet embraced the power of practice in a systematic, rigorous way.

In 2008 Malcolm Gladwell published Outliers. In it there is chapter called: The 10,000 Hour Rule. Gladwell reports on the research of Daniel Levitin, a neurologist. Levitin says:

The emerging picture from study after study of musicians, fiction writers, composers, basketball players, chess players, master criminals and what have you is that 10,000 hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world class expert – in anything.

The practice of feedback and coaching must be an ongoing part of your business strategy if your business is to become world class.

10,000 hours of practice is an hour a day for 27.3 years. Or 2 hours a day for 13.6 years. Or 3 hours a day for 9.1 years.

Practice requires daily, focused concentration over a period of time. It is only effective if it is designed specifically to improve performance. The practice must be repeated. A lot. Feedback about the practice needs to be immediate and the whole business should be mentally demanding.

What if your company did just one hour of practice once a week for 3 consecutive quarters? Imagine how good your organization could get at selling. Or Coaching. Or Problem Resolution. Or Customer retention.

If we want to breathe life back into our economy – If we really want to BE world class – it will require an ongoing investment in skills development and practice.

Nothing else will do.