Business Continuity Tip of the Month   -  August 2013

Practice makes permanent

Most people are familiar with the phrase "practice makes perfect".

Practice (which in a business continuity context largely means exercising, rehearsing or testing) embeds activities and eventually, through repeated practice, makes them second nature. With sufficient practice we can reach a point where, in response to the appropriate trigger, we’ll automatically carry out the activity, exactly as we learned it, without having to think too much about it. 

Imagine a golfer who spends hours on the driving range practising his tee shots, so that when he gets out on the course he can execute the shot consistently, without having to think about every aspect of it. So far so good. 

However, the phrase "practice makes perfect" is misleading. Because it isn’t strictly true. Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect – what it does make is permanent. Which means that if we practice the wrong things they can also become embedded. The result is the same in one respect – we become able to consistently carry out the activity without thinking about it. The trouble is that we consistently do it wrong! 

Back to our golfer. Now imagine that he isn’t actually very good and has a tendency to slice his drives (the bane of many a high handicapper). Unless he takes some professional advice to correct the problem, the only thing that all of that practice is likely to achieve is the ability to consistently slice the ball, time after time. Not exactly the desired result!

So make sure you practise regularly, but do make sure you practise the right things. Because if people are rehearsing the wrong responses or embedding incorrect assumptions, that practice might actually be doing more harm than good.

 


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