James Mulholland

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Top Gun Learning

Last updated: 2021-06-23

After excessive losses in air combat over Vietnam, the US Navy wanted to train pilots. However, they had a problem: no one knew what made the best pilots best.

To solve this, they skipped the 'why' and instead set up the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program (popularly known as TOPGUN) which instead aimed to replicate real-world dogfights as closely as possible.

Equally, in knowledge work, a relatively recent discipline, we ofte don't know what good looks like. However, it is often possible to set up practice situations which resemble the job as closely as possible and improve from there.

To do Top Gun Learning yourself:

  1. Replicate the real world situation you are trying to train for as closely as possible
  2. Minimise the cost of failure
  3. Don't worry too much about 'why', just practice.
  4. Provide lots of feedback

This approach can be a solution to The Tutorial Paradox.

Inspired by the book Peak.