How to Build your “Deep Smarts”…


Isn’t it interesting that many professions have apprentice systems but in management and organisation this is not so?

Take the medical field – something I am quite familiar with. A long and fairly systematic path including a rigorous habit to study new developments will lead to becoming a medical specialist. If a PhD is included in this process it can take as long as ten to twelve years.

Not so with an aspiring manager… (although there are management trainee programs but these don’t get close to the path a medical specialist takes).

Dorothy Leonard writes about how managers can take responsibility and start to work systematically on building “deep smarts”. It is a fascinating read because it is so down-to-earth and practical that you can start right now!

Here’s what you do to start building your deep smarts:

  1. Decide whom you will acquire knowledge from and how (for example somebody in your company – this becomes your mentor);
  2. Observation (your 2-month goal) – whatever knowledge you want to acquire start with observing your mentor and write down what s/he notices;
  3. Practice (your 6-month goal) – start codifying knowledge and interview customers (for example) with your mentor – write down new insights;
  4. Partner & Problem Solve (your 12-month goal) – start to use your knowledge turning it into knowhow with your mentor – use knowledge to problem solve lowest performers for example.
  5. Take Responsibility – take the lead in a project using your new knowledge/knowhow and your mentor becomes your backup.

So, which Deep Smart are you going to build?


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