After finishing this book, the biggest takeaway is the Dreyfus model for evaluating skill learning stages:
- Novice: Needs a clear set of instructions. Rules get you started but won't take you far.
- Advanced Beginner: Breaks some rules and tries tasks on their own, but still needs guidance. Lacks holistic thinking.
- Competent: Can build conceptual models of problem domains and use them effectively. Solves problems independently and tackles new ones.
- Proficient: Requires holistic thinking, seeks and wants to understand larger conceptual frameworks. Possesses self-correcting skills.
- Expert: The primary source of knowledge and information in their field. Continuously seeks better methods and ways of doing things, adept at using rich experience to solve problems. Experts work on intuition without needing reasons. Understanding the context is key to becoming an expert.
This model can also correspond to a certain stage in a specific role, such as a product manager. Junior product managers only make minor fixes to functionalities and cannot see the overall picture of the business. As they progress, they start building product awareness, familiarize themselves with business processes, and can propose individual or even systematic solutions to problems. Further progression involves deep knowledge of the industry where the business operates, anticipating industry trends, and understanding certain development trends that can influence the industry.
The book warns that the most dangerous aspect of becoming an expert is the solidification of thinking. Once you believe in your expertise, you ignore other opinions and curiosity ceases. You may resist changes brought by your field and fear losing authority. At this point, your own judgment and views no longer support you but imprison you.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
- John Philpot Curran, 1790
Kaiji Itou from "The White Tower" possesses the vision and skills to be a professor. However, after becoming a professor, he becomes imprisoned by the position and cannot tolerate any challenges from others. Part of his tragic ending is also due to his arrogance.