Cedric Chin, (Chin 2020b)


This is a summary of summaries and will necessarily omit some interesting details. Use this to determine whether you want to read the whole series.

What’s the most effective way for one to become an expert in a subject?

Schooling typically emphasizes developing along a hierarchy of skills. However, that’s not an effective method for developing expertise.

Ideally you’d use Deliberate practice. However, that’s not possible most of the time because deliberate practice is only strictly possible for subjects with a “long history of well-established pedagogy” (Chin 2020a) (e.g. math, music, and chess). For other subjects (e.g. business, sales, singing): focus on Purposeful practice and acquiring Tacit knowledge.

Tacit knowledge is the “between-the-lines” know-how. It’s what separates proficient individuals from experts. Traditionally it’s acquired by doing the relevant thing for a long time. Can we accelerate the acquisition of tacit knowledge? Yes! Expertise, and tacit knowledge by extension, boils down to pattern matching, specifically Recognition-primed decision making. Improve by working through simulations. Prefer simulations that already exist. When necessary, use Applied cognitive task analysis to extract expertise from specific experts.


  1. Cedric Chin | Why Tacit Knowledge Is More Important Than Deliberate Practice
    • Tacit knowledge is more useful than deliberate practice when the subject you’re trying to learn isn’t “well defined”. “… deliberate practice is defined as possible only in domains with a long history of well-established pedagogy. In other words, deliberate practice can only exist in fields like music and math and chess.”
    • Tacit knowledge in action looks like a long list of caveats
  2. Cedric Chin | Copying Better: How To Acquire The Tacit Knowledge of Experts
  3. Cedric Chin | The Three Kinds of Tacit Knowledge
  4. Cedric Chin | How to Use YouTube to Learn Tacit Knowledge
    • YouTube, and video in general, is a wealth of tacit knowledge (e.g. Pottery). Seek out a combination of instructional and videos where an expert is doing the thing you’re learning.
  5. Cedric Chin | An Easier Method for Extracting Tacit Knowledge
  6. Cedric Chin | The Tricky Thing About Creating Training Programs
  7. Cedric Chin | An Extracted Tacit Mental Model of Business Expertise



  • The final entry in the series is also the first in another series. This is a clever way to lead readers along between sequences/series. The two series are distinct enough that they can stand alone but connected enough that someone who reads one is likely to also want to read the other.



Chin, Cedric. 2020a. “Why Tacit Knowledge Is More Important Than Deliberate Practice.” Commoncog. June 9, 2020. https://commoncog.com/tacit-knowledge-is-a-real-thing/.
———. 2020b. “The Tacit Knowledge Series.” Commoncog. June 23, 2020. https://commoncog.com/the-tacit-knowledge-series/.