Getting Smart About the Hierarchy of Smart



Don’t talk to all your employees, all your users, or all your prospects the same way, because they’re not the same.

The Dreyfus model of skill acquisition posits that there are five stages people go through:

1. Novice
–wants to be given a manual, told what to do, with no decisions possible.

2. Advanced beginner
–needs a bit of freedom, but is unable to quickly describe a hierarchy of which parts are more important than others.

3. Competent
–wants the ability to make plans, create routines and choose among activities.

4. Proficient
–the more freedom you offer, the more you expect, the more you’ll get.

5. Expert
–writes the manual, doesn’t follow it.

If you treat an expert like a novice, you’ll fail.

Reprinted from Seth’s Blog

Seth Godin has written twelve books that have been translated into more than thirty languages. Every one has been a bestseller. His latest book, LINCHPIN, hit the Amazon top 10 on the first day it was published and became a New York Times bestseller. His company,, is ranked among the top 125 sites in the U.S. (by traffic) by Quantcast. Follow him at or on Twitter @ThisIsSethsBlog.