This statement comes from military and police parlance and usually indicates a focus on mobility and dexterity in operations.
Combat and conflict often center on mobility. If you move too fast, you can be outflanked. If you move too slow, you can be pinned down. The best course may be a cautious, thoughtful understanding of planned moves.
From a learning context, this statement provides insight into our focus on work process as opposed to product.
“Slow is smooth, smooth is fast” indicates a focus on technique, and speed in learning new things.
As we learn new skills, we need to focus on the small, discrete skills slowly. This allows us to focus on technique and building expertise in our subconscious and long term memory. There is also a need to ensure that we do not focus on improper strategies as we learn these new skills and content.
Focus on the process
To make this happen focus on the following stages:
CRAWL – Identify a new skill, practice, or area of content that you would like to study. Identify the theory and basic skills. What are the (3 – 5) major elements, or steps involved in this action or area? Be as granular as possible.
WALK – Practice these 3 to 5 elements or steps in the process while considering the larger picture. Continue to practice these steps while you continue to learn, and practice the granular steps.
RUN – Work toward mastery of the skill, practice, or area of content. Continue to practice while focusing on the small, discrete skills you identified in the CRAWL stage. Expand toward automaticity with a constant focus on awareness and confidence.
An awareness of these stages can be applied at any level and for any aspect of learning. This builds a strong awareness of strategies, tactics, tools, and motivation in the practice.
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Also published on Medium.