Accelerated Expertise by Robert R. Hoffman [Actionable Summary]

This is a comprehensive book summary of the book Accelerated Expertise: Training for High Proficiency in a Complex World by Robert R. Hoffman, Paul Ward, Paul J. Feltovich, Lia Dibello, Stephen M. Fiore, Dee H. Andrews. Covering the key ideas and proposing practical ways for achieving what’s mentioned in the text. Written by book fanatic and online librarian Ivaylo Durmonski. Supporting Members get full access and a downloadable/printable version of the summary.

The Book In Three Or More Sentences:

A foundational book for people who want to move from novice to expert in less time. The book, Accelerated Expertise, written by an army of professionals in the field of learning, summarizes most of the major publications on the theory with the same name: accelerated expertise and also accelerated learning. The content is based on workshops funded by the military to develop ways for the armed forces to learn new disciplines faster and at the same time retain the gained knowledge for longer. Accelerated Expertise is packed with resources on how to achieve high levels of proficiency in a field, quicker.

The Core Idea:

Speed in acquiring knowledge and skills to perform tasks is crucial. Not only for the military personnel, where there are often gaps between missions – and people need to re-learn important components before being deployed. But also in the current era. A place where jobs are becoming more complex and require the constant acquisition of new skills. Organizations, of all kinds, need experts to handle difficult tasks. However, it takes years for an individual to master a domain. To reach a level of high competency faster, people need – the authors argue – to be adaptive, resilient, and robust in the face of unexpected disruptions. 

Reason To Read:

Don’t simply taste the refreshing tonic of “being right” and “remembering something”, once. Grab and hold the bottle. The knowledge and the skills-set this book will teach you will open your eyes to a new world of learning. A world where you can greatly increase your learning speed and retention so that “lessons learned” do not become “lessons forgotten”.


  • When facts are suggesting that our performance is faulty. We do all sorts of mental maneuvers to rationalize our inadequate behavior.
  • To master a field faster, one must engage in the process of dealing with tough cases.
  • Motivation in relation to becoming an expert plays a crucial role. After all, a person needs to “keep going” to reach proficiency.

7 Key Lessons from Accelerated Expertise:

Lesson #1: The Need For Better Transfer of knowledge

The military had a problem: it takes years for an individual to become proficient in a field and get awarded with the badge of a master.

The reasons are plenty. Fields are complex. Requirements and information regarding the discipline are ever-evolving. There is always irregularity in relation to encountering hard-to-handle cases.

Unless people are continuously deliberately practicing and getting feedback while handling difficult tasks. The thing an individual will encounter in relation to his level of skills is one: degradation.

An example the authors share in a book is a person who owns skills in relation to maintaining an F-16. This person gets promoted to a supervisory position. With this move, the main daily tasks of this person are now new – he needs to supervise others. But that’s not the only challenge he is facing. Besides training for his new role. He also needs to ensure that his previous skills – in relation to maintaining the aircraft – remain intact and even evolving.

These challenges are quite common in all fields – not just the military.

We are constantly changing positions. Switching between tasks that require a different set of skills.

To progress – and avoid regression. Special care is needed not only in relation to the act of obtaining new skills. But also in keeping and further improving the ones we currently own.

That’s where the theory of accelerated learning enters. A concept that rapidize training and improves the time someone needs to reach high levels of proficiency.

“As workplaces and jobs become more cognition-intensive, organizations need to take traditional notions of training to new levels, and well into the territory of complex systems. Workers in sociotechnical systems must be trained to be adaptive, so that they can cope with the ever-changing world and ever-changing workplace.” Robert R. Hoffman

Lesson #2: Accelerated Learning – A Concept For Reaching Mastery

Experts argue that it takes around 10,000 hours of work to master a field. Another rule of thumb is that it takes around 10 years for a person to achieve expertise.

Sadly, that’s a lot of time to make people beyond proficient.

So, the “inventors” of accelerated learning methodology were trying to solve the following problem: “Can we turn an apprentice into an expert in less than ten years?”

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