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Does practice always make perfect? The surprising answer

If you’re a relentlessly upbeat thinker, you may be enamored of the 10,000-hour rule, which holds that if you simply practice something regularly for a long enough time, you’ll eventually achieve mastery.

For a marketing professional who’s striving to be more creative, for example, this might translate into sitting down with a notepad and pen every morning and spending a few minutes jotting down as many ideas for new product names as you can. You might come up with a few Edsels at first, but once you get the hang of it, pretty soon you’ll be wowing your colleagues with the next iMac, Frappuccino, or Uber, right?

Well, sorry to burst your thought bubble here, but no. According to recent research by Stanford Graduate School of Business alumna Melanie S. Brucks and associate professor of marketing Szu-chi Huang, regular brainstorming sessions are not likely to lead to an increase in unique ideas. In fact, the average novelty of your output—that is, the degree to which your inspirations depart from convention—actually might decrease over time.

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