Exploring New Skills for Continuous Improvement

Jinho D. Choi
4 min readJul 26, 2023


Image by 8photo on Freepik

In the previous section, I introduced Rocky, who consistently allocates 20% of his effort to skill development until he masters all the necessary skills for his job.

Before we discuss Amelia, allow me to introduce Joseph, a skilled carpenter who can craft various wooden products. Joseph’s diligent efforts have yielded fruitful results, and he now seeks to expand his business by hiring an additional carpenter. Joseph believes that this new addition will double the productivity of his workshop. Fortunately, Joseph comes across Simon, a young carpenter who may not possess the same level of expertise as Joseph but demonstrates the potential to become proficient. With this in mind, Joseph decides to employ Simon and begins imparting his skills to him.

A few months later, Joseph realizes that their productivity level is far from reaching the doubling effect he had envisioned. Simon’s learning progress is slower than expected, and Joseph also finds out his own weaknesses as a teacher. Simon frequently misinterprets Joseph’s instructions, resulting in further declines in productivity. Thus, Joseph makes the difficult decision to fire Simon and seeks a replacement. Enter James, a new carpenter whose skill level is comparable to Simon’s (finding someone on Joseph’s level proves challenging). Joseph hopes that James will learn faster than his predecessor. However, to Joseph’s disappointment, the experience with James turns out to be a repetition of the previous failure. After two unsuccessful attempts, Joseph resigns himself to working alone once again.

What could Joseph have done differently to ensure success in this endeavor? The failures he encountered had nothing to do with his proficiency in carpentry. Instead, Joseph’s shortcomings lay in his teaching and communication skills, areas he overlooked to develop.

Now, let’s return to our main story. Amelia, coincidentally, possesses the same level of talent and exerts the same amount of effort as Homer and Rocky. Following Rocky’s work routine, Amelia allocates 20% of her effort to skill development and dedicates the remaining portion to achievement. Consequently, she undergoes the same growth rate as Rocky and attains achievement of 80 in Year 8:

Similar to Rocky, Amelia also reaches the point where acquiring more skills specific to her current job becomes limited after Year 8. In Year 9, Amelia realizes that in order to achieve further progress in her role, she needs to involve other people, as she is already maximizing her output based on her own abilities. The timing cannot be more perfect, as Amelia’s company recognizes her accomplishments and promotes her to the position of team manager. Thus, Amelia starts allocating 20% of her effort towards developing leadership skills, an entirely new set of competencies (Skill(β)) compared to what she had cultivated in the previous eight years (Skill(α)). As a result, she attains an achievement of 88:

Spending effort to develop a new set of skills that may not appear directly related to your current job might seem inefficient, especially when compared to Rocky’s continuous achievement of 100, while Amelia only reaches 96 in Year 10:

However, Amelia, who is determined to improve herself constantly, perseveres in developing this new skill set for five years. Consequently, by Year 13, Amelia has reached a skill level 10 in the new skills (2 per year * 5 years = 10 skills). At this point, Amelia feels confident in her leadership abilities, so she transitions to putting all her effort into achievement from Year 14. As a result, she begins achieving a score of 150, which is 150% higher than Rocky’s achievement:

Figure 5 depicts the progression of achievements over 15 years for Homer, Rocky, and Amelia. Remember that there is no slacker among this group; all three have put in an equal amount of effort throughout these years. However, the distinction in their achievement levels by Year 14 is remarkable, with Amelia being the sole individual who consistently allocates 20% of her effort to skill development, emphasizing her commitment to self-improvement:

Figure 5: The progression of achievements over time for Homer, Rocky, and Amelia.

So far, we have analyzed three types of people: Homer, Rocky, and Amelia. They dedicate an equal amount of effort with the same talents, yet their achievements diverge significantly over time depending on how they utilize their efforts. In the following sections, we will explore how their achievements evolve when their skills are augmented by AI.



Jinho D. Choi

Associate Professor of Computer Science, Quantitative Theory and Methods, and Linguistics at Emory University