10,000 Hours and The Skill Level of Local Politicians

10,000 Hours and The Skill Level of Local Politicians

Malcolm Gladwell's 10000 Hour Rule is one of those idioms which captures an idea we want to be true. It is a more catchy variation on the idea that practice makes perfect.

In actual practice, the 10000 hour rule is shown not to work in a variety of circumstances. There is a certain amount of innate talent needed for certain roles.

Politicians have to learn on the job, especially local ones. One can practice the various skills required to be a City Councillor, for sure, but no one can spend 10,000 hours on each and every skill needed in local government. One must learn to use the advice of experts.

I will interview every candidate during the upcoming 2022 Hamilton municipal election, and I hope to ask a question which gets to the idea behind the 10,000 hour rule - how will a candidate leverage the knowledge and abilities of others to overcome their own experience deficits?

Take a City Councillor for example, they get one staff person who must manage the administrative functions of running a ward office and keep constituents happy who call to complain about every imaginable problem under the sun.

City Councillors have no policy advisors, no budget to hire researchers, and while they may have their own "kitchen cabinet" of unofficial advisors, they will have to make decisions on a wide variety of matters in very brief time frames.

Councillors also deal with the unexpected, that goes without saying in any government. For newly elected Hamilton City Councillors starting in 2023, who knows what crises await them.

The Old Guard at Hamilton City Hall - both staff upper managers and councillors - covered up three major scandals during the 2018 election that we've learned of thus far.

The newbies this term at City Hall was sandbagged by these scandals. The next term of Council should prepare for a similar sandbagging, and worst yet, the City will be in fiscal crisis as discretionary reserves are being depleted.

Which brings us back to the challenge of experience and skill.

Who do they plan to learn from? How do they plan to gain the necessary skills of governance and knowledge necessary to manage a multi-billion dollar municipality? And what kind of people will they seek counsel from? And how will they do all of this in the limited time of 112 waking hours per week?

Thinking of limited time, how will I create a single meaningful question which get to the essence of this challenging while completing an interview within the time constraints of a podcast?

(BTW, the 10,000 hours concept is also the basis of a recent Country-Pop music crossover hit song by that name)